Chapter 15:

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 129
Comments: 2

15.1

Terry jumped lightly down into the boat and took hold of the tiller. They'd brought the boat round to the cave where Joe, Nathan and several villagers were waiting. There Joe and Nathan boarded with the villagers while Ted and Tom went back into the tunnels.

“You're all right with this, yes,” Terry checked as the other two took the oars and pulled away from the cliffs.

“Of course,” Nathan smiled. “It's good to get out and do a bit of sailing.”

“Tom reckoned you'd like to do a bit more than you are doing,” Terry observed. Ted, Tom and Simon would also come out in about half an hour or an hour, but he decided not to mention that. Instead he mentioned something he'd thought Tom meant in his suggestion. “He said that it had been your idea and you should really take the lead in the actual smuggling, even if you're not experts.”

“Well,” Joe smiled. “He's right. I'm glad that I can actually do something now.”

“I don't think you quite realise how valuable what you do is,” Terry laughed. “We've never done anything like this before and we wouldn't know how to do things like you do. You're really good at it and it frees us up to make sure that it's safe to get in and out of harbour.” He turned away from the rocks and out towards the open sea.

“Come on Joe,” Nathan prompted and with some difficulty they raised the mast and secured it. Terry helped stretch out the jib sheet while Nathan wrestled with the large main sail. He secured the pulley block and then sat down beside Joe to keep the jib in place. Joe got up and went over to the villagers. Carefully he removed their blindfolds and put them away again. The villagers talked quietly among themselves while the three of them sailed the boat. Terry mostly steered, but he made it his job to teach them the route to the land. He hoped that they might be able to do it alone one day, but not yet. He wouldn't teach them how to get into the harbour, but they could learn this part of it.

The wind was temperamental and often they had to turn to the oars as they progressed across the sea. At last the wind strengthened, although it was almost directly against them. By tacking, they eventually brought the boat safely onto the beach near the new settlement. Joe and Nathan helped the villagers out and headed up with them to the newly growing village on the side of the hill.

“We can't stay long,” Terry called. “I'm not sure about the weather. I think it's going to turn bad and we have to get back.”

“All right,” Nathan called back to him where he sat in the boat. “We just want a quick glance.”

They came up to the top of the hill with the sun just rising, but only just peeping in under a darkening sky. The village was spread out to their left, on the smooth rise of the hill, a vast contrast from the village beneath the shadow of the castle. Many villagers were huddled in overly crowded temporary shelters, but houses were being built. The village had been planned and staked out. Each family had a plot of land on which they were hard at work, building their houses. Two smaller houses were already standing and as they watched, three families poured out of the one to greet the new arrivals. Behind the hill an expanse of green fertile land spread out, hemmed on the right by a small forest. There was a new track running from the forest to the village and from this Nathan could tell what their source of building material was. To the right a small river ran down from the forest to the sea. Its banks were lush with reeds and in the quiet morning Joe was sure he could hear the water tumbling down a waterfall, perhaps just inside the trees and out of sight. Beyond the trees a dark blur on the bright country denoted a town. A few shapes of houses were visible, but not much.

Nathan turned back to the village and watched them laughing and embracing for joy at their reunion and he knew that they were happy. He was glad suddenly that he and Joe had decided to do this and he was pleased that the smugglers had decided to help. They knew that without Ted and his friends, their intentions would have fallen to nothing.

“Come on,” Terry shouted, now standing in the boat. “We've got to go.”

Joe tugged on his father's arm. Reluctantly Nathan turned away and came down to the boat. Within a minute of him setting foot in the boat, Terry had brought them safely away from the shore and was giving instructions to raise the sail and let the wind blow them home as speedily as they could afford. The journey was very short with the wind behind them and before long Terry was calling for them to bring in the sail and work with the oars, not that they needed them. The waves were mounting and even with the sail down, the light boat moved steadily on until they came very close to the rocks. Then they rowed. Terry steered diligently looking out for the land marks he knew so well. Joe and Nathan fingered the blindfolds they knew they would have to put on as soon as they were past the rocks. They got in without any difficulty. Terry knew the rocks very well and they pulled on their ores evenly, making it easy for him. As soon as they were blindfolded, Terry steered the boat into the platform and scrambled out. He secured the boat and lowered the ladder. Joe and Nathan helped lift the boat, blindfolded as they were and did a remarkably good job of it. Then Terry led them back to their room and sat down to pass the time with them. Ted wasn't back yet and Terry wanted any distraction. He was anxious for his Captain. There was a storm brewing and if they didn't get back soon, they could find it difficult. Simon didn't know what to do like the smugglers did. Terry was pleased to talk rather about the route and the villagers' new settlement. Nathan and Joe remembered the route remarkably well and Terry was rather pleased. He was also relieved that they approved of the new settlement. He was sure it would become a town and Nathan agreed with him.

 

15.2

Adrian slipped out of the small lighthouse gate round the back, leaving it open to get back in. once outside he mounted the horse and gripped tightly to its mane. He'd never liked riding bare back and he had no idea where the horse was going to take him. He only had a head collar on for the look of it. The horse set off at a brisk trot and soon Adrian saw the woods ahead of him.

“Not the Aresh Coppice,” he breathed. He did believe the stories of the coppice being haunted, although he thought that ghosts were made up. This of course doesn't tally, but he didn't think of that.

The horse trotted on until it came to the edge of the woods where it stopped and started eating grass. Cautiously Adrian dismounted and looked around. Everything was still and quiet. Nothing stirred. He began to relax when he heard a sound. Something moved not far away. He tensed but the horse carried on tearing up the grass and chewing methodically. Suddenly someone stepped out of the cover of the trees and confronted Adrian with a drawn bow. It occurred suddenly to Adrian why people called the woods haunted. No one came back because they were killed. Strangely he wasn't frightened and didn't mind the prospect of being shot, but he didn't know why. Then, as suddenly as he'd come the man lowered his bow and stepped back into the trees.

“Adrian,” he half sighed the name. 'I'm glad you've come.'

Adrian stared in shock. It was the man. His rusty coloured clothes were mostly covered by his long black cloak which he'd rapped round him and buckled his belt over.

The next moment Adrian saw the man turning to the horse and say in a quiet voice, “Thank you. Thank you very much. You are welcome here. My horse is at hand and I trust you will enjoy the company.” Then he turned to Adrian again. “Come on in,” the man urged in a low voice. “Out of the open.”

Adrian reluctantly came and followed the man into the woods. The light was dappled and cool in among the trees. The late evening breeze murmured in the boughs above his head and strangely, he felt comforted by the quiet peace of the coppice. They walked among the trees until they came to a glade near the middle of the woods. There, on a branch, hung a saddle and a few paces off to one side a black horse stood eating. The chestnut that had brought Adrian now appeared behind them and trotted over to the other horse. A moment later, they trotted off together, as though enjoying company of their own kind.

“Don't you recognise me Adrian,” the man asked in a sad tone.

“I seem to know you from somewhere,” Adrian admitted, 'but I can't think where.'

“Oh Adrian,” the man sighed. “It's Simian, your brother!”

“Simian,” Adrian exclaimed and emotion rose with in him. How could he have not known him? How could he forget his older brother? He ran to his brother, flung his arms around him and they embraced. “Oh Simian, it's good to see you!” Adrian murmured with tears in his eyes as they parted. “How are you?”

“Well enough of body,” his brother smiled slightly. “Sad of heart.”

Without noticing this last statement Adrian went on. “How are your wife and your young son I've never seen, who you wrote to me about all those years ago?”

“Dead,” Simian replied in a quiet voice that Adrian almost missed.

“What!” Adrian started in shock. “Dead? How..?”

“Killed. Murdered,” his brother spat out the words. “They attacked our village,” he explained jabbing a fist in the direction of the fort. “I was out when there, “most excellent commander,” attacked the village.” He mocked the soldiers as he said the words 'most excellent commander,' and looked for a moment as though he'd follow his statement by spitting toward the fort.

“Crool,” Adrian said simply. It was half way between a question and an exclamation of disgust.

“Yes,” Simian sighed. “Him. We didn't want to join the army so he said we were rebels and attacked us. I was out at the time, else I'd probably be dead too. The village hardly had earthen mound defences and hardly any of us were armed. Of course the soldiers pull their victory out of proportion, but the village did well to hold out as long as they did. When I came it was a rout. The soldiers were rampaging through the streets and slashing at any one who opposed them. Many women and children were being killed. I saw from the top of the hill and I came down quickly. I killed a soldier and took his uniform so that they wouldn't attack me. Then I searched for my wife and son. I was too late. They set fire to the house where many people were hiding and killed anyone who fled. My son was among those, stabbed through the stomach and wounded in multiple other places. All blood and…” he trailed off, his emotions catching him and causing him to have to blink back tears. “They killed my wife too. They raped her and beat her until she was dead. I buried them and then decided to get out and warn the next place he was going to. When I heard that he was intending to come to Archer's Ridge and the Lighthouse Fort, I went ahead of him to warn you.”

“So Clarence's story was true, although exaggerated in valour,” Adrian muttered. It had been bad enough hearing of what had happened. Now he knew that his brother had narrowly escaped, but his family hadn't. “So then you came here to the haunted coppice,” he asked.

“That's right,” Simian agreed. “There were a band of deserters from both armies here when I came. It was they who gave the woods the reputation they have. They didn't like me and when they realised I wasn't leaving, they packed up. One boy stayed and he's still here with me. He looks after the wood when I'm out and fetches water from the village when no one's about, which recently has been tricky, but we've managed. He's asleep now in the grotto. It's not really a grotto, but that's what we call it. Come and see.”

He led the way to the other side of the glade where a steep bank rose. The bank had been undercut and over the entrance were branches covered with mud. The effect hid the small hiding place very successfully. Just inside lay a boy of about fourteen and next to him lay Simian's sword and shield and the boys bow and arrow. After peeping in, Adrian drew back and looked at his brother astonished.

“Yes,” Simian affirmed sadly. “I don't know which, but he says there are boys like him in both armies, so it doesn't matter which he was from. At least now he isn't in real danger.”

“We're all in danger,” Adrian sighed.

“Perhaps,” Simian said with a nod, “but some things are more dangerous than others.”

“Yes,” Adrian agreed as he thought back to the risk of shooting or not. Both were dangerous, but not shooting was by far safer. Captain Crool could be cruel, but Ted wouldn't let him live. In an odd way he found himself feeling glad that Alexander was in the same situation as he was.

“Adrian,” Simian called him back from his contemplations. “Crool will attack the village.”

“I know,” Adrian sighed. “I heard a soldier talking about it.”

“Well,” Simian watched him calmly. “What are you going to do about it?”

“What?” Adrian faltered. “Me?”

“Who else?” Simian replied without leaving Adrian another option.

“But I'm a soldier,” Adrian protested.

“Exactly,” Simian nodded.

“What do you mean?” Adrian half whined. His brother was being as irritatingly confidant as he always was and Adrian didn't like it.

“You're just the person to tell them because you're a soldier. It's your duty.” Simian stated without really explaining anything.

“What do you want me to do?” Adrian tried the direct approach.

“Tell the village that the commander is going to attack of course,” he replied with a look of irritation at Adrian's lack of thought. “What else. You can give the army a good name for once. Do your duty to the people instead of fighting them.”

“But they won't believe me,” Adrian protested. “I'm a soldier and all soldiers are enemies to the people. They associate us with fighting and killing and stealing.”

“Exactly,” Simian interrupted with a nod.

“What?” Adrian exclaimed in desperation. His brother never made sense.

“If it comes from a soldier, they will listen because they associate soldiers with the things you're warning them of.”

Adrian thought for a few minutes, his brother's words slowly making sense.

“If I told them, as I have, they won't really think that it's as urgent as it is.”

“Yes,” Adrian slowly agreed. “They will believe me and it is my duty to the people. I must try and keep the peace. I won't fight against the village, even if I get in trouble for it.”

“That's right brother,” Simian smiled encouragingly. “Help the village as best you can and don't forget what my wife showed you.”

Adrian nodded, but he wasn't agreeing with the last instruction. He didn't want to remember, but he couldn't forget. Once he'd learned something, he didn't forget it again. That was just how he was. “I'll ride out first thing tomorrow, at dawn,” Adrian suggested. “I've got duty in ten minutes and I've still got to get back to the fort. I could do it after duty if I can get away.”

“You better go then,” Simian laughed. “Do your duty well.”

Again Adrian nodded without meaning it. The less Simian knew the better. He turned and looked around for the horse.

Simian whistled softly and a few moments later both horses trotted into the glade.

“He needs to get back to the fort quickly so that no one suspects he's been out,” Simian explained to the chestnut who had taken the lead when they entered the glade.

The horse clearly understood and nudged Adrian firmly with its nose. Quickly he mounted and warily bent over to avoid the low branches, but the horse took him through an open path and out into the level land. Once in the open the horse broke into a swift canter and soon they were at the lighthouse gate. It was shut and Alexander was just leaving it.

“Alexander!” Adrian called. The sergeant turned and laughed. He opened the gate and stepped back some way to allow Adrian to lead the horse in. they walked together to the stables although Alexander always kept his distance from the horse. At the stable, Adrian put the horse away and hung up the head collar as usual. Then, after a brief smile at the horse and a whispered thank you, he followed Alexander out onto the cliffs.

 

15.3

Had Simon been with Nathan on one of their boats, there would have been seasick men clinging on to the rail and the air would have been as thick with swearing as with the drenching rain and stinging salt spray that the waves threw up. Here however there was a slightly anxious silence. The sail was full and threatening to break. The boat was steady, but even so, water kept breaking over her bows and sweeping down under the benches. Simon and Tom were continuously bailing out the water while also trying to keep the sails steady. They had struggled to get to the shore and the wind had nearly caused them to not return that day. It was the anxiety that Joe and Nathan may have difficulty getting into shore that decided them to head home and not wait for better weather. Now they were beset by the sea, wind and rain.

“Get in the sail,” were the first words shouted above the roar of the storm. Ted pointed as he called out and Tom nodded. A few minutes later they had dragged the sails down into a tangled heap in the bows. Then Tom lifted the mast out and with Simon's help laid it and tied it down in the centre of the boat. The boat plunged on. Her momentum and the additional force of the waves carried her swiftly towards the shore. Ahead Simon could vaguely make out the shape of the lighthouse.

A matter of minutes later Simon and Tom were struggling to row the boat across the pounding waves and parallel to the savage rocks. Simon's face was running with sweat and the rain didn't help. He was cold with the weather, but hot with his exertion. With all his strength he was rowing, but it wasn't enough to equal Tom. Gradually the boat turned the wrong way and Ted couldn't rectify it with the tiller, particularly as the waves were moving that way as well.

“We've got to turn port,” he heard Tom shouting.

“Swap sides with Simon and we might be able to,” Ted shouted back.

“It's not my fault,” Tom retorted angrily. He'd always said that he couldn't keep pace with Simon.

“I never said it was,” Ted shouted back. “Swap sides with him and we can turn.”

“That's not going to help us when we go through the rocks,” Tom shouted back.

“I wish Terry was here,” Ted shouted. “I can't turn as it is now.”

“You're the one who decided to bring the kid along,” Tom snapped. “Now the kid's no help but a hindrance!”

Ted didn't answer at once. He suddenly was struck with an idea. He didn't much like what his thoughts were saying, but he decided to try it. “Simon,” he shouted and the first peel of thunder echoed over the foaming water. “Simon,” he shouted again as the rumbling roar ceased. “Take the tiller.”

He himself let go and scrambled across to the bench where Simon was trying to row.

“You can't do that!” Tom protested as Simon grabbed the tiller and moved to where Ted had been sitting. “He doesn't know the way!”

“Don't you remember what I told you about him,” Ted interjected. “I'm sure he knows the way.”

“I don't like it Ted. I don't like it one bit,” Tom complained as he pulled on his oar.

“We'll talk later,” Ted called in response and Tom nodded.

“We need to turn to port,” Tom shouted to Simon just before a brilliant flash of lightning rent the sky, instantly followed by a clap of thunder.

“Port,” Tom yelled again, but Simon had already pulled the tiller round as far as it would let him. He drastically underestimated the tiller's capability and almost turned them back out to sea. Quickly he corrected his mistake and kept them parallel with the rocks until they came to the point where they would turn into shore. He raised his hand and pointed, unwilling to shout. Ted simply nodded. So Simon turned the boat and brought her closer into the rocks.

Simon had never had such difficulty keeping a steady course as he did then. The boat was jostled and thrown about by the waves which were pounding on the rocks. He constantly had to change direction to keep in a straight line. Tom and Ted struggled to row against the fierce currents that beset the light boat. The wind was almost always blowing his hair into his eyes and the salt spray nearly blinded him, but he couldn't let go of the tiller to wipe it away. He just had to keep on watching his guide points on the shore and bring them safely in. At one point he was certain that he was too close to the rocks and they'd be dashed on them by the furious waves, but they didn't even touch the deadly teeth of the sea.

About three quarters of the way through the gap in the rocks, it suddenly became easier. Not much, but enough to instantly notice. Simon allowed himself to blink away the salt water from his eyes. Ted relaxed and smiled at Simon. Tom stopped clenching his teeth and glancing over his shoulder at the guide points to make sure Simon was going the right way. A matter of ten minutes later they were trying to keep the boat steady alongside the platform. Ted had to jump to pull himself up onto the platform. He lowered the ladder instantly and handed down hooks on long poles. Another five minutes later the boat was securely on the platform and Ted and Tom were heading to the side chamber where they kept several changes of clothing. Simon remained on the platform, washing the boat down from the water barrel he'd filled before they'd left and checking that there was no damage.

 

15.4

Good friend,

This is just a quick note. I cannot write much without taking risks I am not yet ready to take. I have the beginnings of a plan but I will keep it to myself until I am sure it will pull off. I am writing now to ask a favour of you. I am sending a scroll with this letter. I found it in a place very seldom frequented. From a preliminary viewing of the parchment, I believe it is a map of the great secret of which I have referred to in my previous letters to you. I would ask that you get it copied as accurately as possible and hand the original back to me as soon as possible. I do not think I can afford to let it be away from its place for more than two or three days. If you can't get it copied, get it memorised. I have heard that your sister's husband's brother is good at memorizing things. Give it to him to learn and then return it to me. He's a soldier so he'll be trustworthy. I doubt he'll collaborate with them and betray my actions. Even so I would ask you not to tell him where the map comes from should you choose to show him instead of copying it. I would recommend that you hand it to your sister's husband's brother, as in that way we cannot be traced easily. A copy could become evidence against us and hence cause us to have difficulty with The Driver. You know who I mean. Please do your best.

Yours

Harry Ridge

 

15.5

“What do you think now that he's done it?” Ted asked as he pulled a clean tunic on.

“What? Now he's steered the boat in?” Tom asked hesitantly, while peeling his clammy wet socks off.

Ted just nodded.

Tom sat back and looked across at his brother. “What do you think I'm thinking?” he asked in the quiet voice of one who is perturbed.

“I don't know,” Ted replied with a sigh. “I know what I'm thinking and it might be along the same lines as what you're thinking.”

“It's not good Ted,” Tom said emphatically. “Not good at all.”

Ted didn't reply. In the doorway behind the brothers Terry appeared in silence.

“Look Ted,” Tom continued. “He knows any tunnels he goes into and he knows the rocks. Not even…. You know. He didn't know the rocks.”

“If he didn't know the rocks,” Ted cut in almost aggressively, “How did he get out to his boat to escape?”

“What evidence is there that he did go on the boat?” Terry asked quietly.

Both Ted and Tom started at the sound of Terry's voice and turned quickly to look at him.

“Well how else would he escape?” Ted demanded.

“By land,” Terry suggested quietly.

“Impossible,” Ted interjected. “We only let him know two routes up onto the cliffs and they were both locked so he couldn't use them. We never really trusted him.”

“He did sometimes go exploring,” Tom said slowly, for the first time admitting that he could see where Terry was coming from.

“Perhaps,” Ted sighed. “We don't have evidence for it, even if we're pretty sure of it though. Even so I doubt he found an exit on top and he couldn't have swum to the beach. The tide is too strong. He'd be dashed on the rocks or the cliffs and he knew it.”

“Yes,” Tom agreed slowly.

“It's not impossible,” Terry persisted. “I know it's not likely, but it isn't impossible. He may have found an exit, or made Dianna show him one.”

“She would never do that!” Ted protested, astonished that Terry would suggest it.

“She may have if he threatened your…”

“No!” Ted almost shouted. “She would have killed him first!”

Terry didn't move. He hadn't intended saying that. He often thought it, but never suggested it to the others. It wasn't his place. Dianna may have been his twin sister, but Ted was her husband.

Tom looked at Terry with shock on his face. He had also wondered once, but not brought it up because there were no facts.

“I suppose she would have, yes,” Terry said at last, unconvinced. He knew that there was always a way of threatening something without endangering your life. Ted did it all the time, so Terry was surprised that Ted didn't see it.

There was a long pause where no one spoke as each of them trawled through their memories yet again. At last Terry spoke again, changing the topic.

“What were you talking about the rocks for any way?” he asked.

The brothers looked at one another. They had completely forgotten.

“Something about Simon?” Terry suggested as he crossed the room and sat down on the bench.

“Oh yes,” Tom remembered. “Simon took the tiller on the way through the rocks.”

“Yes,” Terry nodded and watched his two friend's faces.

“You don't seem surprised,” Tom observed with a slightly irritated note in his voice.

“No,” Terry averred. “Once I heard that Simon could memorise whatever he chose to, I reckoned that he knew the way through the rocks. He'd have remembered it from the first time he landed. Remember he spoke of the light house and more recently I've noticed him following what points we pick out, as though to check his own points.”

“I must admit,” Ted said with a smile, “I hadn't thought anything of him looking until today. It suddenly dawned on me, that he could steer the boat while Tom and I rowed. At least we could keep time and we're stronger for rowing in a storm.”

“Oh of course,” Terry looked slightly worried. “I forgot about the storm. How did he manage in a storm? We struggle and we know the rocks well.”

“He did a sight better than we sometimes do,” Tom growled.

Ted nodded his agreement. “Tom,” he said after a short pause, “Don't think that I'm not worried like you. I am. I just don't show it as much. He is, remarkable.” He couldn't find another word.

“You two both could hold a boat steady in a storm when you were his age, or so your dad said,” Terry tried to make the best of things and put Simon's achievement into perspective.

“Perhaps on the open sea, but not in the rocks,” Tom muttered. “Only Ted's ever been able to do that.”

Ted smiled involuntarily. He had always been the best boatman, although Terry was also very good, even if he wouldn't admit it. Tom was good, certainly much better than the average sailor, but not the best.

“Actually,” Tom smiled. “Simon's not better than us when you're at the tiller Ted.”

“Yes,” Ted consented. “But he is good.”

“Yes,” Tom grunted and picked up a clean pair of socks.

“Where is he?” Terry suddenly asked.

“We left him cleaning the boat,” Ted answered and got to his feet again. “He should still be there. Let's go see.”

Terry rose and followed Ted out to the platform. Tom pulled on his socks and considered putting on his wet boots again. He decided not to and instead picked up his well-worn sandals and slipped them on. Again he wondered about Simon. Who was he? How was it possible for him to be so unlike Joe and Nathan? Was it true that he was so unlike his father too? Who was his mother? Simon didn't know that himself. His first suspicions returned for a moment before he pushed them away, just as he had before. He couldn't find out even if there was a chance, which, he had to admit, there was.

 

15.6

I remember how Jude stood beside me, facing the others. It was getting late and the rain had not relented yet. Thunder was nearly continuously assaulting our ears and the lightning lashed out at the earth as though the sky were challenging the earth to a duel. The wind howled around the castle and rattled the shutters in the village below. In the castle, most people had been trying to find an unoccupied corner where they could be out of the draught that cut through any open windows. In the sea facing rooms the rain was driven in and the stone floors and walls were damp. As a result, most people had moved into the far side of the castle. It was therefore to a miserable irritated group of men and women that Jude spoke. We were standing in the main hall. It was cold, but no one complained. No one dared. Jude had everyone's support, although what he told them then was to stretch their obedience to him.

“I have chosen the watcher” was what he said. He was going with many of the villagers down to the beach. They needed to escape and they guessed that the beach would be their best bet. If the smugglers came back to any point, it would be there. He wasn't going to stay with them, but see them safely away from the land. He'd come back as soon as he could and help those of us who still remained. If all went to plan, more of us could get away soon, before the soldiers attacked. In the meantime, Jude was leaving me in charge. I wasn't comfortable with it, but I agreed, knowing that Jude would be back soon.

The men weren't happy at all. I remember the dark looks they gave me, black enough to match the stormy sky.

Jude argued with them for a long time. He eventually satisfied enough of them, particularly when he placed a great emphasis on the fact that he'd be back by the next evening at the latest. They doubted that the soldiers would come in that time and agreed.

“All right,” Adam voiced most of their opinions. “If that's your decision we'll go with it, but we can't promise to be able to hold the castle without a decent leader like you.”

The other men nodded and Jude relaxed. He quickly left to gather the belongings that some of those who were going would need. The other men left, following Adam. They wanted to find their wives, children or grandchildren and tell them the news. It was mostly the older men and women who didn't want to leave, along with the young single parented families such as Johnny's mother whose husband had been taken away by the army. They wanted to stay in case their husbands came back, but we all knew that they wouldn't.

Suddenly able put his hand on my shoulder and smiled at me.

“Don't you mind him,” he said quietly. “He's nothing but a self-important snob. He doesn't think you can do it, but I do. Jude trusts you and thinks you can, so, so do I. I think Paul thinks you can do it too.”

I must have looked surprised at the mention of the soldier. I was rather surprised that Able knew his name.

“Oh yes,” Able smiled. “I take breakfast up to Paul and sometimes I come early and talk a few minutes. He says that you're not what you appear. You're brave and courageous. I agree with him. No one who doesn't want to fight carries a sword.”

I smiled and looked trustingly at him. I hadn't realised that I had a friend in the village until then. I wanted to tell him that it was a rapier and not a sword, but I decided not to.

“If you want to show me anything,” Able went on after a moment. “I'll try my best to understand and tell the others if you want.”

I nodded and smiled my thanks. I really did have a friend who would try and understand, just as Paul did.

“You best get some rest for a few hours,” Able continued. “I'll keep watch in case soldiers come. No one knows how soon they will come.”

I nodded and smiled again before heading out through one of the doors and up to the tower. I didn't go straight to my room though. I first went to see Paul.

I gestured to him to tell him about Able and his support. He nodded.

“Able may be a bit fat and getting on in years, but he's a kindly soul,” Paul said and I nodded. “He's backing you up in leading the people while your brother's out?” he checked.

I nodded, almost saying yes.

“Do it well. I know you can.” For the first time he reached out to touch my hand that rested on the bench where we were sitting. No sooner had he moved to touch me than he drew his hand back and apologised.

“Sorry,” he said quickly as though caught off his guard. “I don't want to seem threatening in any way.”

I smiled at him and he understood that I hadn't seen it as a threat. There was no way he had been going to attack me, although others may have seen it differently. A few minutes passed in silence. Then I got up and signalled that I was going to bed. He nodded and signalled to say he would too. Somehow, when the other villagers signalled things to me I felt as though they were taking the Mickey, but not with Paul. Here it was simply a reluctance to break the silence. I went out and locked the door. Then I went to my room, still anxious about my duty to the village and to Jude.

 


Submitted: July 17, 2012

© Copyright 2022 Cwester. All rights reserved.

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Julie March

So I was right about the mystery man who meets up with The Watcher. And now I'm having even more suspicions about this Harry person. Liked how you added tension in this chapter by giving out a little more information, such as the identity of the mysterious rider, and Harry's last name (Ridge? As in, the Archers' nemesis?).

Thu, July 19th, 2012 3:14am

Author
Reply

I enjoyed bringing that out about his last name, so I'm glad you also like it.

Fri, July 20th, 2012 1:58am

andreamay

Just when I think of a chapter to be the crucial one it appears the next one is as well. In each of them there is a crumb of an information and you just can't stop reading. And yet there's so much more to it then the plot and mysteries, but there's also a kind of an inner beauty I can't explain or define.
15.1
New land, new village, home building - this is hope.
15.2
I'm confused now, I admit. How could Adrian not recognise his own brother? I have no siblings myself, but is it really possible? If so I should be glad and grateful for I've been reluctant in using similar situation but not between siblings. The identity of "the man" is for sure a major revelation.
Corrections. The beginning of the first paragraph. Quote: Adrian slipped out of the small lighthouse gate.... living it open to get back in. once outside... ("Once" - capital letter)
Quote: "I seem to know you....," Adrian admitted, 'but I can't think where.' (just the quotation marks "but I can't think where.")
The last paragraph. Quote: He opened the gate and stepped back....to lead the horse in. they walked... ("They" - capital letter)
15.3
Simon again! So glad when he outsmarts them!
15.4
Well, the idea with a letter is brilliant again.
15.5
First they talk about Simon, then we still think they refer to Simon, but it's actually Harry Ridge they think of. Nice. A coincidence? Not likely.
15.6
I like the subchapters with the watcher so much. Thinking of reading them all again.
Corrections. Quote: Suddenly able put his hand on my shoulder... ("Able" - should be capitalized)

Mon, May 26th, 2014 1:39pm

Author
Reply

Thank you for reading and commenting. I've made the corrections. Your comments are so encouraging. I am SO glad you are enjoying it.
I believe that it is possible for brothers to not recognise one another after ten years, although I admit it would be rare. I also tried to make it so that Adrian sees him in poor light, or with the situation so unusual that he doesn't look properly at the man's face. I'm not sure if I succeeded there though.

Tue, May 27th, 2014 2:16pm

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