“Caleb! Quick, under t`tarp lad!” hissed the old man sharply.
A long-faced, solemn looking little boy with straggly dark curls quickly ducked underneath the rough tarp over the donkey cart. He wiggled himself beneath the pile of tanned skins and furs, his nose filling with the sharp musty smell. Overhead he heard the clip-clop, clip-clop of hooves riding up to his grand-uncle`s cart.
His heart sped up as he heard them approach. “Hark! Who goes there? What business have ye in Rome” asked a gruff masculine voice nearby. Caleb trembled as he lay there; covered in furs and sweating buckets. “I`m jist a hunter, I live over yonder, past the Knetting Hill. Here t`sell some skins at t`market, am I. I have me pass here.” his uncle explained.
“Very well, search the cart,” barked the voice, Caleb`s heart climed steadily into his throat as he felt the tarp shift over him. It was lifted briefly, and then dropped. He sagged in relief as his uncle`s cart moved on and soon passed the gate into the city of ROME.
Caleb soon extracted himself and helped his uncle set up shop in the market-place.
“Now, Caleb boy, we`ll set ye up with your master as soon as we sell these here skins.” Explained his uncle as Caleb set up the shop. The day went on and his uncle made a great many deals, getting all his goods squared away by the end. Caleb, the insignificant farm boy, was now to meet his master, a potter of great renown, he had promised to buy Caleb and teach him in exchange for three skins and 7 years labour from Caleb. It was good deal for him, as Caleb was the son of a slave, and his uncle had squirreled him away to get him an apprenticeship in the great city.
A great pot-bellied man with a foxtail for a moustache awaited them at a big shop. Caleb looked around in awe at the many pieces of pottery lining the shelves. “Ho, ho, welcome welcome,” the man greeted them jollily. “Is this the lad then, looks strong enough, I say, we`ll make fine potter of ye yet lad.” He looked over Caleb with a smile on his face.
Caleb felt pride swell in his hear, as well as anticipation, never knowing what was to come next… For three months Caleb worked diligently under his master and then suddenly, his master was invited to present a vase to the KING himself! They worked day and night, crafting a vase such as there never was, painting and limning and shaping till their hands shook, and finally, t`was ready.