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The Range Finder
The little man in his drab clothes was barely noticed as he crouched to our fire. One might have thought him dirty with ill fitting olive coloured garb, twigs, moss and pieces of fern clinging to him. His face was smudged but the under-side of his hands were washed and clean, obvious even in the embers light. Not a complaint was made as he reached in and tore a strip of meat off the . roasting hare
I sat, watched and recalled the first day I had ever seen Lord Walmsley, certainly a far cry from tonight, then he was a sparkling peacock strutting around the cathedral. He stepped out this and that, measure here and there and had an audience of the Grand Master Mason. My job was a labourer carrying stone to the masons and on up to the walls, many the time I seemed to get in his way. Never a harsh word did I receive.
And here he was, Lord Walmsley, eating with us common soldiers tonight. Dressed rough, he never even wore the bright blue sash to show himself as friend.
We sat below a bank and knew the enemy was just out there, but how far out there was that. We could waste a lot of arrows and never reach our mark, they’d overrun us then. That would never do. This foe outnumbered us and didn’t understand the word mercy. We needed every scrap of help and luck we could get.
This little man was our help and our luck, he was our range finder.
The butchers out there knew we would have one and would be watching for him. They would do anything to kill him, to prevent our archer’s marker being laid.
Lord Walmsley knew distances and would lay out our marker. He was our range finder and he’d need all the luck he could get. God bless him and for our sakes, look after him.
I was looking into the embers, then looked up to him again, he was gone. Not a sound, he was gone. My eyes searched and strained in the dark and there he was inching up over the bank, disappearing into the grasses. Now I understood his drab clothes, in them he had become part of his surroundings. He was making his own luck.
But that I could disappear from this scene. By morrows nightfall there would be carnage and many of us dead. If Lord Walmsley’s gets his markers in place, I might just make it home. I wonder if he will.
(© Copyright 2012 A B Inglis. All rights reserved.)