Part Three: An Allegory About the Church (Prose)

(Continued from Part Two)

The King stood up and took in the crowd in front of him. And then, predictably, a voice split the silence. The officer who had started the ordeal, his dagger still drawn, shouted for the yard to hear: “Sire, these have just arrived and claim they’ve also received a discharge for rest. We mean to expel them; their papers must be counterfeit.”

The King, still unhurried, studied the officer’s face for a moment. “Is that so?” he responded with an air of a professor considering an interesting question posed in his class. The King turned to the yellow-jacketed captain again. “Could I have your issued orders?” The captain fumbled about for a moment – in the scuffle, the papers he had entered the yard carrying had been torn from his hands but he was able to find them in the mud and handed them, red-faced, to the King. “I apologise for their condition, Sire,” he said softly, his eyes down.

The King took them without complaint and read them for another long silence. He tried to wipe the mud away but seemed unable to make out what the orders stated. Shoulders were tense and the moment dragged out. Then the officer shouted again, this time drawing whispers of assent and support from those in the crowd. “Sire, I’m sure you’re aware of their kind. Their ways are… unnatural. They are unfit for return. Letting them back into our homes and cities would be an outrage!”

As with a jolt of electricity, the crowd surged into agreement and some began to shout similar slanders. Most of the yellow jackets, their eyes glued to their captain and to the King, didn’t respond but several began to spit insults back at those around them.

The King held up an arm, a sudden and commanding gesture that caught everyone’s attention. The crowd quieted. And Jonathan heard his own voice, again as if he was only becoming aware of it like everyone else’s rather than it being his own, call out into the tense silence.

“Sire, these men have fought under your banner. They have bled and died and fought like the rest of us. Will you give them their freedom? Just like rest of us are here to claim?”

The silence rang after his words concluded. All eyes had found him and he struggled against his sudden desire to shrink back into the crowd and take back what he had said. Had anyone ever stood up for a yellow jacket before? Surely there would be some sympathetic to them in the crowd. But the ice in the air caused Jonathan’s stomach to plummet. Surely he would be cast out with the yellow jackets if the King decided to send them back to the front lines. Or he would be strung up by the crowd.

The King’s eyes had found Jonathan’s as soon as Jonathan spoke and they held each’s gaze – the King’s eyes were like looking into fire. The moment dragged; surely Jonathan would be wrong and punished. Then the King smiled. His voice boomed.

“These men are my appointed soldiers, just like the rest of you. They are granted full discharge and will be allowed to return home at first light.” Rustling; whispering. The yellow jackets, their heads hanging a moment before, snapped their gazes up at the King, sure they had misheard. The King put a hand up again and the crowd stilled. He took a step towards Jonathan. “What’s your name?”

“Jonathan,” he stammered.

“This man is the bravest among you,” the King’s voice seemed no more strained than when he spoke directly to Jonathan but now it echoed throughout the yard for all to hear. “I hope you all learn to recognize your kin even at risk of drawing criticism.”

The King knelt again next to the yellow-jacketed captain. He murmured something; the captain responded. The yard was stirring again; Jonathan couldn’t make out what was said. After a few more words, the captain laughed and his shoulders relaxed. The King was smiling too and another few words were shared. The King’s hand never left the captain’s shoulder. And Jonathan was not the only man that marveled.

_______

Not really what I was going for, but it was an attempt. Maybe I’ll give this concept another go sometime.

-LS

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