PARDON ME, SIR!

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: DOWN-HOME
Visiting THE AMERICAN VILLAGE Colonial attraction in central Alabama, one of the visitors experiences a flashback to 1791, a daydream about a confrontational circumstance that would endanger one of the party of three vacationing.

Submitted: May 24, 2019

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Submitted: May 24, 2019

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PARDON ME, SIR!

Yarn and Photo by Virgil Dube’ – Copyright 2019

 

CURRENT TIME, MAY 7, 2019

The three travelers sat on benches under a bright sun. The unimpeded rays bore down on their delicate exposed skin, even on this coolish spring day.

They were drawn to and subsequently curious observers to a makeshift camp comprised of three white canvas tents, and an young Colonial soldier-farmer as he described to a class of school children his role as a freedom fighter, and the use of his musket, culminating with a demonstration: applying gun powder, loading the ball, ramming it, then the proper shooting technique. Passionately expressive about his patriotic role, the infantryman explained he was a part-time soldier breaking periodically from farming duties to fight the British, a herculean effort by colonial troops to drive the British Redcoats from the American Colonies.

Following his brief orientation, he asked the students to fetch themselves a four-foot stick from a nearby stack and form a double line fore and aft a ways out in the treeless field. The three observers, an elderly man and woman, and middle age woman remained seated observing approximately twenty students enthusiastically gather sticks and hustle to and form the two lines, then obey commands the Colonial solder called, ‘order arms’, ‘port arms’, ‘right solder arms’, ‘on guard’, ‘set - aim - fire’.

Exposure to the Sun soon became uncomfortable. So the three observers decided to seek shade and ventured toward The American Village. First, they crossed a wooden bridge above a lazy meandering brook that circumvented the southwest side of the village. Moving leisurely across the scenic expanse between the military camp and the first brick building, the elder man of the three took on a mental transformation, a daydream of sorts drifting back exactly 228 years in time.

BYGONE TIMES - MAY 7, 1791

The three travelers dressed in Colonial attire strolled up a gentle hill and approached the outskirts of Hampertown, a New England village abundant with elm trees standing tall above mostly brick structures. As they neared prisoner stocks placed close to the first brick building, likely the jailhouse, a fierce outcry startled them. An astute well-dressed gentleman standing amidst other villagers, he next to a towering husky woman a standout, pointed toward them and bellowed, “Hey, that’s the one, the younger woman … she a stranger did it. Arrest her, lock her in the prisoner stocks.”

The younger woman’s two companions looked from her to the accuser, “Kimberly, what is that man talking about?”

Kimberly alarmed with mouth agape, shrugged. Aware the mans’ malice was directed at her, she responded, “I don’t know.” She stepped forward and called to the gentleman pointing, “Pardon me, sir!”

“Did what?” another man questioned, he the jailer standing apart from the crowd six feet away, a ring of keys hooked to his wide leather waist belt, a bullwhip hanging from the opposite side.

The three travelers approached further, then halted, altogether bewildered. They gawked in utter disbelief at the gathered crowd, a blend of men and women focused menacingly on them, especially the forefront gentleman and broad-shouldered woman, she square-faced with slight mustache wearing a long fashionable dress, bonnet, holding a frilly parasol. The man an apparent Hampertown village elder, was wearing a white neck cravat, black coat over-which a red cloak was draped, black hat, custom black pants, white stockings, and highly polished black shoes with instep buckle. His pointed finger and intense glare was fixed only on one of the three, the youngest companion, afore named Kimberly.

A door slammed. Stocky Sheriff Amos Pumperton stepped from the brick jailhouse and hastened to join the confrontation. To the village elder, he said, “Absalom Smyth, Sir, though I hold you and wife Mary in high esteem, I still must ask you to explain the charge you bring forth. What did this lovely woman appearing from yonder encampment leaving their horse and buggy in the field, obviously travelers, do to be arrested, henceforth be shackled in the stocks?”

Absalom huffed, insult written on his bluish-red contorted face. Appearing to all on the verge of blowing his top, he blurted, “I said, Sheriff Pumperton, she an intruder did it. I instruct you a servant of our village to arrest that woman immediately and place her in the stocks so the villagers can have their sporting fun.”

“Absalom, whether you have comprehended it or not, we colonialists just won our freedom from the British, every single American a free person. You can’t accuse a fellow citizen of a crime without solid evidence to back your charge.”

Absalom obviously an astute villager swore unintelligibly. Incensed, he spun around to face Mary and the group, obviously his close village friends and business associates. Pumping each hand held high, he summoned them into a tight circle, a mix of chatter emanating, indiscernible whispers and often emotional expressions shared, lots of hand gestures, heads nodding so close some touched – Mary wearing a bonnet yelping, and an occasionally fist was held aloft in jerky motion.

Sheriff Pumperton folded his burly arms across his chest, and whistled Yankee-Doodle-Dandy softly while he waited patiently. The jailer glanced nervously from the sheriff to the accused woman. Then his apprehensive eyes swept around to observe the frenzied clustered bent over crowd, butts abreast and amusingly glaring him in the face. He tapped his shoes in alternating and quick tempo to pacify his anxiousness.

Finally, elder townsperson Absalom broke from the group, the rest rising but remaining behind him. He took hold of his coat lapel and strolled with grand importance to stand before the sheriff, where in a heartbeat he received the repeated question from the imposing lawman clearly a foot taller than he and not intimidate. 

Calmly, the sheriff asked “So, Absalom, what is this woman being accused of?” Then bent closer and a foot from the man’s face, he yelled, “Speak your peace, Sir!”

Absalom jumped back, wiped spittle from his face with a handkerchief. He frowned, twisted to glance worriedly at the foremost woman amidst the crowd, Mary standing tall and defiant, her angry eyes planted sternly on Kimberly, jealousy seeping from her every pore. Sheriff Pumperton noticed this and looked suspiciously at Absalom’s full-bodied wife. 

Eyes fixed on Mary, the sheriff said, still directing his speech to Absalom, “I’ll ask you one more time, Sir, what’s the charge?”

Cowing, Absalom’s head dropped. He shrugged, “Well, sheriff, the offense isn’t totally clear, not yet decided amongst us, will take time to sort it out with a certain person.”

Mary Smyth bellowed, “Poppy-cot, sheriff, you must lock that hussy in the prison stocks, otherwise she will escape sure justice.”

The sheriff towering above the elder Smyth, looking between him and his spouse, responded firmly standing his ground, “Justice for what, madam? I’m beginning to doubt there is one. The woman and her companions are confidently defiant, convincing to me. If she hasn’t committed a crime that perhaps a lookalike has committed, or she’s falsely accused of a concocted offense by a certain somebody, she can go anywhere she pleases, and, the accuser amongst you can be held liable.” 

The jailer a commoner was thoroughly confused. He fidgeted, was caught between duty for his tenacious boss, the law of the colonies and new nation, plus people of prominence financially supplementing him on occasion, and plain old common sense that seemed the probable outcome of this unanticipated incident. With sagging shoulders, he withdrew several paces and remained ready in the event he must reach for his keys.

One of the accused woman’s companions stepped forth, squarely confronting the sheriff. Protectively, the jailer drew near him. She said assertively, “I am Magistrate Sharon from Florida. Hold on without making any rash decision, honorable sheriff. You too jailer, take a deep breath and rest easy.” 

She did a half turn, and directed her attention to the gathered men and women, especially Mary Smyth, a consortium of townsfolk she would have before arriving here given the benefit of doubt they were bright and responsible law-abiding citizens, “Look, you busybody witch-hunters sniffing after a pack leader and she-wolf. You are making an unsubstantiated accusation against our companion, clearly mistaken identity to an unclear crime. If you had read our Constitution as the sheriff insinuated, you would know better, would welcome us here with open arms. Instead, you are confrontational, slaves to gossip I am convinced. If you put locks on our companion Kimberly, you instead of her will be placed side by side in the prisoner stocks, this gentleman Mr. Smyth and his belligerent counterpart to remain here overnight during thunderstorm, hailstorm, romance-seekers, pesky bugs and rodents, or night chill. Get my drift?”

Her elderly male companion stepped forth and stood beside her. “I’m Magistrate Virgil,” he declared. “Magistrate Sharon is correct … no charge - no arrest – no kangaroo court, no locking our Kimberly in the stocks ... that’s the law we must now and always abide by. Besides, this woman is our lovely law-abiding daughter. You must believe me when I say no harm will come to her our sweetie-pie.” He glared at Mary Smyth when next he said, “Get lost, find gossipy mischief elsewhere.” His eyes scanned the lot, and with force resembling a growl, he next stated, “I direct this to you on behalf of the sheriff standing here; I advise you to settle down on your porches and read our Constitution, or the next time when you pull such a stunt as this you and the rest of your cohorts will likely to be put into shackles and displayed in prisoner stocks.”

The sheriff nodded. The crowd fled. The sheriff and his jailer expressed their sorrow and promptly disappeared inside their jailhouse abode. The travelers resumed their visit to Hampertown village, enjoying every foot of it, nobody daring to confront them here, or their immediate wanderings, news seemingly just ahead of them, always.

MORAL OF THIS PATRIOTIC YARN

Have fun! Release the shackles! Look for truth and then stand up for America as our great democracy was intended! Be kind - considerate to your fellow human being no matter his/her race or creed! Find fault only when it’s substantiated, then do so with empathy and reserve, exactly as if you were the recipient of accusation!

Hampertown has never existed. However, if you, your family, especially your children, are close to a grand attraction - THE AMERICAN VILLAGE in central Alabama, take time this or next year to drop by; it might prove a blessing in patriotism unexpected. Busloads of school children throughout the spring visit the attraction, and there is a large 4th of July happening, touching via example part our national heritage we all need as a resurgence ... Virgil, Kimberly, and Sharon Dube’.

THE END


© Copyright 2019 Virgil Dube. All rights reserved.

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