GBE 2: Blog On
The trees swayed like kelp in the oceans current. Their colorful crowns dispersing on the wind. Dried leaves scuttled up the road like forest crabs off to the ocean. Red and gold piles ringing the bushes at the side of the house, just waiting for some child to come along and scatter them.
The hunched back little man peeked furtively at the clouds gathering in the sky. His pack was laden with an assortment of wares. Mostly he carried the fishing gear; pole, creel, and net. He anticipated capturing worms once he arrived at his destination; the river Avon.
Yesterday had been a fine fall day. Sunshine and a gentle breeze brought everyone in the village out of doors. Under those conditions, today’s adventure had been planned. Gerome a0 hunchback, hoped the day’s weather could slip back into yesterday. Daring to peek again at the sky, he shook his head. As he passed by the guard at the gate, he gave instructions to the guardsman. “Tell M’Lord’s house, that they will need the tents. Tell them I said it appears there will be rain. There is time to obtain a portion of warm fresh bread, if you are quick about it.” The guard nodded emphatically to the hunchback, tuned and was on his way. Everyone knew who the hunchback represented. He was at the beck and call of the Lord of the Village.
Gerome passed through the gates knowing he had done all that he could to help ensure the day would go as planned. He knew how long his journey would take him even with his bad foot. His club foot dragging in the dirt had been how he met his Lordship. It had been raining that day, as well.
With sheets of cold water raining down by the bucketful Lord Alfred Talbot upon his horse, came cantering through the brush, barely able to hold onto the saddle horn, nearly knocking Gerome over. “I saw your trail, lad. I demand you direct me to my home.” With a small amount of airs, Lord Talbot attempted to bully Gerome.
“Lost, are ya?” Gerome laughed at the pompous boy, barely astride a horse intent on rubbing him off on any available tree. “And you demand I find your home for your?” Dropping his bundled load, Gerome grabbed his stomach as he guffawed, loudly. And much to the dismay of his Lordship.
Gerome, finally able to stand again, reached for the horse’s bridle. “Slide down off your steed, sire. There is a small indentation in the hillside where we can make a small fire and perhaps calm ourselves. Don’t look so concerned, I’ll not slit your throat until you’ve earned it.”
While hobbling Lord Alfred’s horse nearby, Gerome instructed the Lordship to gather wood so he could build a fire. Initially Lord Alfred had begun to protest, but one stern look from Gerome had sent him scurrying up the hill in search of burnable wood. Upon his return, it was quite evident he had met with the curve of the hillside more than once. Muddied breeches, soggy boots, and dirt smudges across his face told most of the story.
“How did you get lost?” Gerome asked between blowing on the embers and adding more kindling.
With downcast eye, Lord Alfred began, “We had been on a hunt. I don’t particularly care for hunting. I understand, if you don’t hunt you don’t eat. But, I don’t ride well, and then the rains began. I was at the back of the hunting group. No one came back for me. It was raining so hard it was like looking through the cataract eyes of one of the ancients. I could not hear over the rain spattering onto the ground. And it completely washed out any signs of passage, until I came across your rut in the dirt.”
After waiting out the storm, spending the night talking to one another the boy poured out his innermost dreams, Gerome decided he liked the young lord despite himself. He hadn’t wanted to. He had begun asking questions purely to pass the time and out of idle curiosity. He had learned what type of man the boy’s father was. One that would leave his son stranded alone in the woods during a downpour. A hard demanding man.
Upon their return to the village, the young Lord’s father had been enraged that he had gotten separated from the hunting group. He belittled the lad in front of the court. Based on what Gerome had seen, he guessed this was not the first time. “You’re so inept, you had to be saved by a cripple!” the young Lord’s father blustered.
Overcome with empathy for the young Lord, Gerome stepped forward, “Oh no sire, twas his young Lordship that saved me. I was lost, when he offered to let me get some food from your kitchens and sleep in the barn. Oh, he told me, one night only, your Lordship. He wouldn't want me taking advantage, even if I am just a cripple.” Lord Alfred’s father became outraged that a hunchbacked cripple would dare interfere. Eyes beginning to bulge, face red from extreme anger, he stood pulling his sword from his scabbard. Barely had he raised his sword over his head, when he clasped his left arm and fell to the floor. The wrinkled old sage was called.
One of the tables had been quickly cleared of its table settings and his Lordship lain there. He was wild eyed and gasping. He reached for his son, Lord Alfred who quickly came to his side. Unable to speak, father could only hug his son. The old sage shuffled in her sideways scrabble, to the side of the makeshift bed.
She looked at him, rummaged in her satchel hanging at her hip. Under hooded eyes, she glanced at the other lords in attendance and shook her head. With one last gurgling gasp, the old Lord, fell silent. All that could be heard was the murmurs of the other lords. They began a clamor over who would succeed the Old Lord. Gerome scuttled to the young Lord Alfred and pushing him, insisted he claim his father’s place.
That was ten years ago, the lad had become a strapping young man. Gerome was proud to say he had no small part in shaping his Lordships personality. Lord Alfred had become good for the village and the countryside. Encouraging where his father had belittled. Honest and even in his dealings with all he did business with. He had built an admirable reputation. And become a good horseman in the process. Now we were about to turn the page onto the next chapter. A beginning if you will. Lord Alfred was holding a picnic in an effort to woo a young lady. It was time he take a bride.