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INT. THE PALACE LAUNDRY – DAY
An open room with high windows, sloshing tubs, boiling cauldrons, fluttering washlines.
Broad-shouldered LAUNDERERS wield wooden paddles or push rumbling carts. Two SORTERS divide laundry from a mountain of sacks, carting piles to the steaming tubs.
Galen crouches behind the mountain, peers over it.
The sorters cart off another pile and he pulls down a bag marked “LINENS.” He digs — Nothing.
Another bag disappears behind the pile.
EXT. / INT. THE DYERS FIELDS – DAY
EASTERN FIELDS – WOAD, WELD, AND MADDER
The east city walls sport pikes — with skulls on them, sockets staring out.
Brilliant in contrast, acres of yellow flowers carpet hilly meadows. HARVESTERS bundle flowers and load trays into carts bound for
AN OPEN WORKSHOP
Salts, dyes, and ammonia cauldrons are worked by CHEMISTS, soaking, dipping, stirring.
A tour’s in progress: Znakov leads and Pavel follows.
I was raised in the Fools’ tents, actually. Rebel that I was, I took my skills and ran away to join civilization.
Pavel laughs as Znakov flags down a man in rolled sleeves.
Gloves, Sven! Check the boys there!
The MAN (ND) in question nods, and tugs the shirt of an apprentice handling dirtied roots bare-handed.
(explaining to Pavel) There’s a reason madder has its name.
And danger’s in demand.
They stop at a cart of flowers:
The Old King loved red.
I see only yellow.
Earth’s best miracles are her secrets. Here — (indicating the roots) — and the weld will show its true blue colors as well, once my students get their hands on it.
You have students?
Znakov beckons him past the ammonia baths and they hold their breaths.
INT. A SITTING ROOM – CONTINUOUS (DAY)
Women at wheels sit spinning wool and cotton into thread. Children with drop spindles chat with them but watch closely. Some take to play instead.
My wife — gods rest her soul — believed in the strength of generations, and so do I. Anyone who comes to me, I train.
You don’t fear competition?
The war’s sent many widows. We’re all on the same side.
More WORKERS: sorting ingredients — shells, saffron, oak galls… A bell rings as Znakov and Pavel pass and Znakov changes direction.
Ah, I’m afraid that’s my delivery. I hate to abandon you, ambassador.
You have your business to run. Don’t mind me.
He follows Znakov to
A festive Fools Caravan pulls up outside the doors. DOREN (50s) leaps out. He’s a bearded man with broad shoulders and a contagious laugh.
Doren! What took you?
The horses mostly.
Doren, this is the ambassador from Dolina, Lord Ilmenov. Three Kingdoms — you have kin that way?
Odds are. (a bow) Ambassador.
He points to the eastern wall.
Hope you’re not here to join the ranks.
Not my intention.
Best to you then.
Pavel smiles and turns to go, but Znakov looks back on a thought.
Oh, a question, milord — nearly slipped my mind…
(pausing) Of course.
The youngest princess, Melinka — you’ll pardon the familiarity, but she used to play with my girl — is she well these days?
I’m not certain why she wouldn’t be.
It’s only, her mother passed on a few months ago — a bad fever. It’s difficult to ask after them — the princesses, that is — but my daughter worries.
She seems well, spirited even.
(sincerely) I’m — She’ll be happy to hear that. A good day to you, milord.
He and Doren head inside, a murmured argument underway:
I hate to rush you off, but there’s been some trouble here…
Pavel lingers until they go, then walks up the cart path to the main road. A patrol’s doubling back at quick march.
INT. THE PALACE LAUNDRY – EVENING
The sunlight dips and shadows lengthen.
Galen returns another bag to the shrinking pile, wipes at sweat, pulls down another –-
— digs out a handful of blue and patterned white, pulls it straight, stares, confused:
A sketch of the chalice — in blue.
SORTER #1 (O.S.)
Is that the last of it?
SORTER #2 (O.S.)
Just a minute.
Galen bundles the cloth under one arm and slips away.
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Images by Pixabay & Unsplash
History Notes – Dyeing & Laundering
There are a number of natural dyes all over the world, but the best known in medieval dyeing seem to be three plants with yellow flowers:
- Red – Madder, which has been found even among Vikings and Egyptian tombs
- Yellow – Weld, which was combined with chalk to dull its neon tone
- Blue – Woad, which took a long time to make, making it more costly
On the other hand, I’ve been able to find very little directly on laundering customs in ancient Russia. Fortunately, I was able to research around the subject. This article in Medieval Textiles (pg. 4), posits that undergarments were ubiquitously linen. Following that thread, I learned that linen tends to need either sunlight or lye to whiten, according to this interesting article by Distillacio. This, in turn, led me to Wikipedia, and I learned that the Nordic root for “lye” is the same as for “laundry day,” aka “Saturday,” so there you go: Russian laundering of linens likely involved using lye. (Three times fast now…)
According to MidgardtoMiddleEarth, given the size of sails on Viking (and by my inference Rus) ships, it was likely weavers worked in groups on projects such as spinning, weaving, and embellishing. Putting all these bits and pieces together, I concluded that a laundry house is possible, though perhaps we’ll never know what one would truly look like.