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Wild Boar

by BobCurby 

Posted: 13 July 2010
Word Count: 1001
Summary: This is my belated entry to the historic challenge.

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Wild Boar
By Bob Curby

The day had dawned with nothing more than the sounds of waking birds. In his battlement room, a man had yawned and rolled himself out of bed onto the oak floor. Having a room high up had its advantages, avoid the stench of the street level was one, hearing the birds was another. Henry of Ramsey adjusted the gleaming chain mail across his chest and donned the polished quirass which protected his chest and back. He buckled and adjusted his belt and scabbard. With a half smile he picked up his long broadsword and thrust it into the scabbard which almost dragged on the floor.

As the gaoler within the Kings Royal Hunting Lodge at Wittering, he had to be ready at all times. The final touch would be his thick, heavy, beaten iron helmet, which he would put on if he was needed, besides, no-one could eat breakfast with a helmet on. Breakfast, that was the next important matter to attend to. It was a simple meal, some crushed oats in goats milk, washed down by a pewter tankard of very poor mead, but it sustained him for the day ahead. Breakfast over, he stepped out onto the battlements and looked down at the small town of Wittering. His eye caught a movement and in the distance he could see a rider. He looked at the sun, why, it couldn't be more than an hour since sun-up, who could be riding at this early hour? That was the question on his mind as he squinted at the approaching horseman. He could see the night guards getting ready to hand over to the regular day soldiers at the gate. Soon the rider was within sight of everyone in the Lodge and it was clear that it was a man and his destination was the lodge.

The Captain of the Guard had seen madmen try on more than one occasion to take out grievances against the king by trying to burn down the lodge, so he called his men to stand to, just in case. Then the rider was at the perimeter and Henry gasped to see the poor man's condition. He was dressed like a servant, but rode like a nobleman, and he was exhausted. The horse was wheezing, white foam upon his flanks as he stood, flicking his tail and shaking his head to avoid the flies. A guard hailed him as he approached the wooden pathway to the main gate.
"Hold! His Majesty desires your intentions. Speak. 20 bowmen have their arrows set upon your heart!"
The rider, a servant of Sir Richard of Wisbech put his hand up to show he had stopped and was yielding.
"Sire, I....." he slipped from the horse and fell heavily onto the ground; his exhaustion was evident.
Henry called down to the Captain of the Guard, "Sire, he is faint, the ride has but taken all of his strength, may we go and assist him?"
The Captain, Manfred of Witcaster, raised a mailed fist. "Despatch two serfs to see to the intruder."
"Will, Arthur - go to the rider, bring him to the guardhouse." Henry sent his most loyal men from the King's personal servants.
A few minutes later they had carried the rider to the guardhouse while a soldier brought the horse to a stable lad. Henry was already at the guardhouse and had water in a stone jug. He poured some out into a small cup.
"Here, drink, and tell us why you ride in haste to the lodge of the King."
The man looked up with a weary face. "Sire, thank you, I am seeking Henry of Ramsey with urgency, I have ridden through the night from the Sokes."
His breath came in gasps and his arms seemed too feeble to make the dramatic gestures he needed.
"I am Henry, speak with haste, what message say you?"
"Oh Sire, thank the Lord I have found you. Your lady, I believe your betrothed, Lady Mary-Elizabeth of Wisbech, was on the Stamford road last evening, accompanied by my brother Tom and Bessie, maidservant to the Lady, when they were set upon by vagabonds and thieves. My brother Tom -" he stopped as a sob threatened to come up into his throat, and wiped a tear, "my brother Tom, was brutally killed as he tried to protect the ladies, oh Sire!"
"The ladies - what say you of their plight? Speak man, every minute passing brings me more distress."
"The maidservant was made to strip naked and grovel at the feet of their leader. My Lady was made to remove all her gold and even her fine outer clothes and he demanded her purse of silver too. She was humiliated at the hand of the vagabond Sire."
"Would you know this vagabond again should your eyes fall upon him?"
"Aye Sire, even better, I knew the man as soon as I heard Sire, it was Garth of Crowland."

“Garth of Crowland, by thunder, I’ll have his head upon the battlement stations!”
Henry left the messenger and went to seek out his master, Sir Gerald of Oaksted, the Sheriff of Wittering. Together they returned with six men-at-arms and Henry once again addressed the messenger.
“Pray, tell us now, has Lady Mary-Elizabeth returned to Wisbech?”
“Yes my Lord, she is safe with the master’s household besides.”
“Mount up Sir Gerald, I think I know exactly where this vagabond party will be – there’s a wild boar hunt over in the vale beyond the drain of Ramsay, my home village. He partial to wild boar. We’ll catch him there.”
There was a clattering and clanking as the party rode out as the sun grew stronger. In an hour they’d be in Ramsay.
There was a hush in Ramsay as the party rode in, everyone was at the hogroast. Henry caught sight of Garth and hailed him. “Garth of Crowland, stand and be ready, today you will hang.”
And he did.

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Comments by other Members

BobCurby at 23:31 on 15 July 2010  Report this post
all that tapping with my trusty stylus on the WinMobile - and no comments?

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