Quillpen, inky fingers
One writer ponders ...
on words-smithing or being happily distracted from the task in hand
and on the wayward nature of her Muse
and on the wayward nature of her Muse
I loved a girl once; a lass with raven dark hair and eyes the colour of warm honey. I gave her a ribbon. Green it was, to tie up the silky hair that used to escape from her cap when we went a-walking along the banks of the river Torridge.
I often wondered whether she still had that ribbon. Or, when I marched away as did so many young men, did she tie it as a charm, like the tokens at the wishing wells, so that the pain of her memories would ease as the coloured threads faded.
Years passed. Then, one day I saw that very same girl, unmistakable, alive, mingled amongst a thousand luckless souls, the rag-taggle Royalists who marched out of a Cornish fortress on the Fal. She did not see me. Once again, she slipped through my fingers. But from that moment I vowed that, come what may, I would seek her out.
When I found her it was not how I had I had planned, going down on one knee, like a knight of old, when I came to ask her about that little gift. Amidst the commotion of neighbours responding to an alarm, she could not be heard, she could not say if the ribbon had been lost, nor tell me if it was faded. Nonetheless I promised to buy her a new one - if she would just give me a sign.
Yet I was on my knees as I pleaded with her to once again do me the honour of walking out with me. The Torridge was a way away but we could find another river bank instead, to sit together on a couch of soft mosses under dappled sunlight.
As I held her body close, I begged her not to leave me, this woman who should be my life’s partner.
She did not answer, lying limp in my arms, her blood staining my breeches and the scrubbed floor beneath us as the mocking laugh of a villain and the whimpering of a child were replaced by the clatter of hooves that faded into the distance.
I Betwixt Hammer and Anvil
When I was a youth I had no sense of my own mortality. I believed in a cause that I held unassailable, one for which I was prepared to fight, even to die. Of course, I had no expectation of having to make the ultimate commitment. Nor will I deny that the fact that my convictions were in complete contradiction to all that my father held true also had its appeal. As I marched from Bideford under the King’s standard, back in ’43, I was ambitious and cock-sure of nigh on everything.
As the years passed I found my convictions a lot like my armour - dented. I can't claim to fight for a cause any more. But my motives ...well, there's the rub for I doubt if Parliament, ‘King’ Cromwell or the man who thinks he has me under his thumb would approve of my motives at all.
True, I changed my uniform for that of the army of Parliament for the promise of pay. Turned coat? Aye, but just as many would think me just a professional soldier, no more the callow North Devon lad. I learned to comport himself as an officer who earns the respect of his men - that is what eleven years of civil war does for you though war gives men experience they could do without and earning respect gets a man noticed when it might not be in his best interests, then matters can get complicated. Yet I would never have supposed that Fate could deal me such a curious hand.
That’s how I found myself ankle deep in paperwork, mired in an investigation at the directive not of the military but of one of the highest lawyers in the land, set on a task proscribed so tight that should it o’erstep the boundaries, a court-martial would be kind in comparison to the consequences. That was at the beginning. As I said, my motives … let me simply say they are … knotty.
There’s a phrase that I first heard on the lips of a certain woman of my acquaintance which says I got caught betwixt a hammer and an anvil. I could hardly have put it better myself - not in polite company anyway.