Friday, July 22, 2016
The Marshal and The Brigand
The Marshal and The Brigand
At first the marshal, whose face seemed happy – but he was trembling before the judge. It then became obvious while he was in the courtroom, above the open sky, that he was not truly jovial, but pretending that way to his lord and master. The result was, that he was sweating profusely even while putting on a buoyant face. Only he was not as good as the judge was to note this, and therefore the judge would needle him from time to time. This was particularly apparent when he bowed low – which was frequently – and the judge asked him something while he did so. Knowing of course that the marshal could not see him, but could only guess from his tone.
The marshal began: “At the river that runs in two town from the north.” At this point he was interrupted by the judge asking for the name, though both knew it very well. “When off in the distance, there was a brigand which was nearly caught before. Making haste, and with a bit of luck, I arrested him in the name of the law.” at this point the judge asked was he standing up, or in some other position, because the judge suspected that he was prone – because he knew something about the brigand's history, as well. “You could say that he was kneeling, or even on his stomach, if it pleases your honor.” at this point there was some back and forth between the judge and the marshal, because the judge wanted the marshal to explicitly say that the brigand was not only prone, but kneeling in agony. Clearly the judge had some idea of what was going on – from some other source, which had not been called at the time.
And the marshal had an uneasy feeling – though we did not know what it was, it seemed that it was going to come out. Even his joviality was cracked, and it looked like a wide grinning face emerged from him. The judge asked a question about how he knew that the bandit might be here. At which the marshal replied that one of the old woman had been robbed just last night, and it was logical that the brigand would often stay for a little while. “It is logical, that he will try to find everyone who could be robbed, before going on to someplace else.” Though his face had calmed down, it was still clear that the judge and the marshal, were not on good terms, because the judge scowled at him. But not having any more to go on, the judge set him down and called up the brigand.
The brigand cut an entirely different figure. First of all he was much taller than the marshal- and rather than plump he was thin – it seemed as if he had been running for a while. What added to this was a rather weary look to him – as if he had been running for a long time from the forces of the law, and making enemies of the local warrior caste. Still and all, he was a small – with small victories, though they were devastating to his victims, and to the men he had defeated. The other thing that was odd about, was that he was not part of a caste – it was not a laborer, a monk, a farmer, any sort of merchant – and certainly not a member of the warrior caste, however low. When you looked at him, there was something seedy about him instantly. It must have been an attraction to those who might deal with him – such as our doomed member of the warrior class.
Still and all, he was arrogant – especially because he knew he was probably not getting out of the courthouse – and reminding him of that were the chains on his arms and feet. He was bound up, even more than was usual. The bearded face still projected a fierce – somehow droll – pathos. It was as if he were going to go down fighting until the last – as if he had no regrets.
Grimacing at the judge, he started out laconic – but then soon went garrulous, as if he knew that this was to be his last testament.
He was asked by the judge who he was – as a formality, because everyone knew who he was.
“It does not matter what you put down.” With that he spat down on the floor.
At this point, the judge asked him whether he wanted to tell his view of the story, or not.
“This imbecile told to something resembling the story, and you believe that.”
To add to it, the judge suggested?
“I can tell you the real story.”
So tell us your side story, said the judge.
“I can tell you the real side, which only passes in the night to what the fat men told it.”
He began first of all by correcting the story, as he remembered it, about what happened afterwards. It seems, according to him, that he drank from a sluggish – and was immediately infected by a poisonous snake – there are only two on Shoju. He burned instantaneously, and for a day wondered down out of the woods, and by the River. There he was afflicted, in the darkened forest, and even drank from the river – though it did no good. Then lying in a cramped position, the marshal happened along to him – almost by accident. So the marshal took him to the courthouse.
But then he drew to the meat of the story, which began from meeting the warrior and the lady, on a more distant part of the road – which was already nearing the woods, but still in the most distant of the fields. First he spied on them from a distance , on the road walking away from the old capital – both the Warrior's slight figure, and the beauty of the lady – which was like something out of the tales.
“She was beautiful, I tell you, beautiful. I knew right then that I had to have her, every inch of her. She was gorgeous and at the same time demure. I could see her face on a statuary, that is how lovely she was. But how was I to have her? Because her husband, though he was in no way equal to her, would defend her with his very life. And then I realized, it was the road which defended him, because anyone would see that I attacked them, and would then come to help the warrior. I had to get away from the fields – with their cloudy pools, and their whispering strands of rice, blown over by what looked to be some sort of storm but it was only in the distance. I schemed my way to a solution, because in the forest was a cove where I would dispatch him easily encumber. Then I could have my way with her – willingly, or not. But in truth, willingly was better.”
Thus he launched in to an explanation, of how he kept his head down until he was on top of the two of them. At first he pretended to be clumsy. But then he looked in to the Warriors eyes, and gave that look upon him which said that he was actually devious. That coming look which tells a warrior that he has a henchman, who has a proposal.
First the bandit began looking at the warrior, with some form of intent. The bandit looked the warrior taught to bottom, wall also moving left to right. The warrior, of course, was following and moving his hand to his blade. There was an intense view moments, where neither said anything. They were both just looking at each other – while the lady, under her hat, did not make a sound or betray any form of emotion. Then the bandit moved in the opposite direction – with the warrior tightening his grip on the sword. But again no one displayed any emotion other then the tense grip of readiness to attack or defend. Their was no fear on anyone's face – neither the bandit nor the warrior's.
Finally, the bandit said: “You look like the kind of person who might be willing to engage in a proposition. I assure you, you will like it,”
At first the warrior said nothing, but after waiting from the bandit, he gradually inquired: “To what kind of proposition do you have? I warn you that you will be making trouble for yourself if it does not meet my liking. Or worse, if it is a trap.”
“Oh, no trap. I promise you. No trap at all.” On his face was a duplicitous look, and you did not know if it included the warrior, or excluded. The warrior, then, had a choice to be made. And he made it.
“What is it that you want?”
“I have stored some weapons, fine ones. Would you like to buy them? I think you want some henchmen. Though I do not know for what.” inside the bandit had made the calculation that the warrior wanted to move up in the world, because he had moved down in the world not so very recently.
“Where is it?” The tone was suspicious, but ready to believe if there was a chance. He would definitely like to be the head of a group of warriors again. Very much indeed. They were much alike, these two men. Both of them wanted to get ahead, what ever it took.
So, the warrior followed the bandit – through the hills and valleys of the forest – this made the lady drop a number of things, and finally dismounted her donkey. None of this concerned the warrior who was thinking about who he would give the weapons too, because he had some ideas. He was plotting in its head, though with his body he was maneuvering quite well through the forest.
“Is it much longer?”
“Just a little ways.”
The warrior just grunted, in a low pitched voice.
Then, finally, they came to the glen which has been described before. Naturally, the warrior did not know it at all – but the brigand did, and he had a simple plan to dispatch the warrior. You see, there was a tree that was not down, and he just needed to plant himself behind the warrior. Than he would pretend that the weapons were right there just out of his reach. Then would tie him up, and get to his real objective: the lady.
As a dupe, with his hands off his swords – the long one and the short one – the warrior suspected nothing, and went ahead to see the what kind of weapons, and other things. Peering over the knocked down tree, hoping to get a glimpse. But instead, the bandit was on top of him with rope. It was a very simple matter to time him to the stump of the tree, and when he had tightened. The bandit could not help but laugh at the warrior.
Then the brigand turned his attention to the lady. She was everything that he had dreamed about, and thinking on the warrior – it was too much of a prize for him. The hat had long since been dropped, and her face was clearly shown. Of course the skin was covered with white, as was proper for a lady to do. But she was so much prettier than the rest, the brigand was indescribably observant of every nuance of her face and hands. In his imagination, this was his prize. Nowhere had he seen such delicate features. Nowhere had he seen such demure eyes – they flicked down, which caused him to glance at the figure, which was all hidden and revealed at the same time. Nothing could compare with this.
He had to kiss her, but at first it was a struggle. She had drawn her ornately carved decker – and plunged it to his chest. He knocked it away, but still she held on to it, struggling to wield it to his shoulder. But still he kissed her, and gradually the knife was dropped into a stump – every as it did so. Then finally, her lips warmed to his – and she responded in kind. Her mouth was sumptuous, and he wanted more than he could say. And then be kimono opened for him, and he passed into the luxurious state of bliss.
Than they were done, and the lady looked in to his eyes. “You have to kill my Lord. It would be a disgrace to have two people who knew my intimate thoughts.”
This was not the way he thought it would turn out. He begged and pleaded with her to just go – and let the people find him eventually, dead. Because in the sun he would die of thirst. And not many people knew the glen, and certainly no one find him in time. But she was adamant, and reluctantly he took his sword, and freed the warrior.
The brigand realized that the warrior held a much finer sort then he did, and while slight, he was cunning and subtle. While he was taller, broader, and more agile. It would not be an easy thing to dispatch this opponent. Not at all.
The warrior struck first, with the brigand deflecting away the lunge – but just barely. This was a man who had learned his stock in trade well. So even if of small stature, there were things which would surprise him nonetheless. At first, the warrior was on the offense. With the brigand pearing the blows. But eventually his slight stature was beginning to take a toll on him. And then the weight of the bandit came in to play, and he began thrusting until the warrior was winded and was losing force with every passing blow.
Finally, the crushing crack occurred, and the warrior was backed up in to the original tree stump. It was a long time before he died – so rigid was his force of will. The brigand looked around to find the lady – but she was nowhere to be seen. He wondered away from the duel, in search of her.
“So, that is what really happened. I know that I am not going to leave this court alive. So that is my testimony, and I have no reason to lie.” Then he sat before the judge, but would answer questions: was he so intent upon killing his opponent that he did not notice the lady leaving? He just grunted, saying that in the heat of battle nothing else mattered. Then it was asked: why did he not purloin the dagger. To which he replied he had not thought of it at the time, but on reflection he should have done so. There were a few more questions, but it was clear that he had few answers. He was taken away, and it was obvious that even if he were not found guilty of this, there were enough to hang him by.
The marshal realized that the judge had more on him, but was disinclined to do anything about it. His vision of himself as a fine, upstanding marshal would not be questioned, for now. But the judge was all too aware, that the marshal was at best worse than mediocre.
The laborer was puzzled: “If she really wanted him, why did she not stay?”
“It was transparent,” interjected the monk, “that the brigands vision of her was obviously not correct. It was also clear that his vision of her was slightly grounded in fantasy. She was pretty, maybe even beautiful, but not gorgeous as he wanted. They eventually found her in a cloistered nunnery, where she was praying.”
“That seems more reasonable.”
“Yes, indubitably. When she was brought to the court, she had been crying.”
“So the brigands vision of her waiting with open arms, is a lie.”
“As is much of his tale.”
“I imagine that his warrior is somewhat less than he would have us believe. In fact looking at the marshal, I would say he was just a normal bandit.”
“That was my opinion, he just exaggerated himself for his audience. But then what does he have left? He is going to the gallows anyway. And the end there is short and ends with a shock, and then a twitching. It is the same way that a great many men, some with no reason to end up there.”
“He wanted all of life of adventure. I would say he got it.” the laborer was not impressed with anything that the brigand had done. Though he did not exactly mind getting a taste of the lady, it shown on his face.
“I would say by now he has gone to meet whatever God or Goddess he worships. I do not know what that meeting will be like, but I imagine it will not be any better than his meeting with the judge.”
“So what about the lady? What did she have to say?”
“Well I said she was crying, and throwing herself on the judge's mercy.”
“I would too, even if I had a taste of pleasure. The bandit was not going to live very long.” It was obvious that the laborer was imagining some sort of tryst, because he was open in his feelings.
“She spied on the man who had, probably, raped her. All she did was hide her face, she could not bear to look at him again.
“But you were there when she told her story?”
“Yes. But it was completely different from his.”
“Well I imagine so.” The labor warmed his hands, but thought of the lady.
“And her story was focused on the warrior, not the brigand.”