Book 13: Tales of Neveryon, Samuel R. Delany
In one corner, by a supporting post, a fat man stopped wiping sweat from his bald head to brush at a bushy mustache in which, despite his pullings and pluckings, were still some bread flakes, and a bit of apple skin; also, something stuck the corner hairs together on the left. His furry belly lapped a broad belt set with studs. A ring with a key a double forefinger's length hung at the hip of his red, ragged skirt.
Beside him on the ground, chained in iron collars, sat: an old man, knees, elbows, and vertebrae irregular knobs knobs in parchment skin otherwise as wrinkles as many times crushed and straightened vellum; a woman who might have just seen twenty, in gray rags, a strip of cloth tied around her head with an ugly scab showing from under the bandage. Her short hair above and below the dirty cloth was as yellow-white as goat's butter, her eyes were narrow and blue. She sat and held her cracked feet and rocked a little. The third was a boy, his skin burned to a gold darker than his matted hair; there was a bruise on his arm and another on his bony hip. He squatted, holding his chain in one hand, intently rubbing the links in his rough fingers with a leaf.
A shadow moved across the dust to fall over the single heavy plank to which all their chains were peg-locked.
The slaver and the woman looked up. The old man, one shoulder against the support pole, slept.
The boy rubbed.
The man whose shadow it was was very tall; on the blocky muscles of arms, chest, and shin the veins sat high in thin, sunbrowned skin. He was thick legged; his face bore a six-inch scar; his genitals were pouched in a leather web through which pushed hair and scrotal flesh. Rings of brass clinked each step around one wide ankle; his bare feet were broad, flat, and cracked on their hard edges. A fur bag hung on his hip from the thin chain that slanted his waist; a fur knife-sheath hung from a second chain that slanted the other way. Around his upper arm, chased with strange designs, was a brass bracelet so tight it bit into the muscle. From his neck, on a thong, hung a brass disk blurred with verdigris. His dusty hair had been braided to one side with another leather strip, but, with the business of the day, braid and leather had come half unraveled. The leather dangled over the multiple heads of his ridged and rigid shoulder. He stopped before the plank, looked down at the chained three, and ground one foreknuckle around in his right nostril. (Black on one thumbnail told of a recent injury; the nails were thick, broad through heredity, short from labor, and scimitared at cuticle and crown with labor's more ineradicable grime.) His palms were almost as cracked and horny as his soles. He snuffled hugely, then spat.
Dust drew into his mucus, graying the edge.
--Tales of Neveryon, Samuel R. Delany (Bantam paperback second edition 1983, pp 131-132)
Okay, I take it back.
Maybe I can learn something from that after all.