Thursday, August 15, 2013

Iron Will-Chapter I

Chapter I- ‘I Would Die For You’
As the sun disappeared behind the mountains bordering Glasgow and Xenith, Jakin turned to go. Back in the camp he attended to his various camp duties until darkness forced him to return to the light of the watch fires where he rejoined Lucas, the only man he felt he could trust his life with. Lucas looked up as Jakin slipped noiselessly up behind him and sat down, his eyes never meeting Lucas', his attention only for the ferocity of the crackling flames which seemed to Lucas to be in accord with the tempestuous emotions which he knew were surging through his friend's heart, though his outward demeanor did not reveal the turbulence. 
              The day before, Jakin had been accused of deserting after pursuing a spy away from the camp further down the mountain. His sentence was pending and the weight of the knowledge of his possible execution filled the tense air with silence. Lucas watched the countenance on his friend’s face; those eyebrows forever knit in a stern and frowning glare, his unsmiling, small mouth with pale lips, and those piercing, blue eyes, observing anything and everything around them. Lucas had grown to ignore those things about Jakin which tainted his character: his depression, his gravity, his harsh words and cutting remarks. He focused more on the things about Jakin which built his character: his loyalty, his conscientious behavior towards the soldiers, his respect towards the commanders, his hunting, tracking, wrestling and fighting skills, his courage, bravery and insensibility to pain and his fierce defense of his principles and of the soldiers in the army against Parson. Parson was a troublemaker in the army, delighting in forcing all the soldiers he could lay his hands on to run his errands and amuse him or he and a few other soldiers who joined him would leave him in the dust of the road covered in bruises. Of course, he could never lay his hands on Jakin. Jakin always slipped through his fingertips or left him with bruises on the very field where he had done the same to others. Jakin would then get beat by the Quartermaster but he didn’t care. His goal was to bring Parson down from his lofty throne to the dirt but Parson always avoided him after Jakin beat him on Sly Fox Hill. Lucas remembered that day very vividly. He had been on top of the hill when Parson and a few others had come up and told him to clean their boots. Lucas, new to the army, refused and turned to go. Parson then gave a signal and his men grabbed Lucas and began pounding him with blows. All of a sudden their blows had stopped and another rather new member, a young seventeen year old, had whipped Parson and his men soundly and then left without so much as a word to Lucas. Lucas smiled at the remembrance. Jakin had been that seventeen year old and Lucas had followed him around ever since. He didn’t follow Jakin for the sake of protection although, but because Jakin inspired him so much. For awhile Jakin wasn’t friendly towards Lucas and tried to avoid him, but in the end Lucas’ humility, deep appreciation and loyalty to Jakin forced Jakin to like him and ever since then they had been the best of friends.
              The captain’s voice was heard nearby. “Who’ll take first watch?”
Lucas looked at Jakin and Jakin said, “I will.”
              Lucas knew he would. He always volunteered for watch. Rain or shine he always took the first watch and often the second as well. Many thought Jakin was crazy to take the watch all the time, but Lucas knew that Jakin took the watch because he had to think. What exactly Jakin thought about, Lucas had not the faintest idea.
              “Due to the charges pronounced on you yesterday,” said the captain, referring to the charge of desertion, “I cannot allow you to keep watch unless one of you comrades is willing to take it with you.”
              “I will.” said Lucas quietly.
Jakin shot him a grateful look as the captain ordered everyone else to bed.
              After everyone had gone to bed, Jakin and Lucas sat down beside the fire. Jakin put a log on the fire and then sat down, staring into the roaring fire while Lucas employed his great gift of silence. For an hour or more he watched the fire die down into glowing embers.
              At length Jakin said, “You’ve a great gift for silence.”
Lucas smiled, “You’ve a terrible habit of it. Maybe if you told someone your thoughts they could help you figure things out. Most of the time I don’t know what you’re thinking about.”
             “But tonight you do,” said Jakin. It was a statement without a hint of questioning.
“Tonight I do,” said Lucas.
               After a pause Jakin asked, “Do you think I was deserting?”
“Of course not Jakin, but unfortunately it’s not what I think you were doing but what Brigadier General Garfield thinks.”
              “No,” said Jakin, lifting his eyes from the ground. “What you think matters just as much as what Garfield thinks. I would not have you think I was faithless.”
              Lucas looked straight at Jakin, “Jakin, I would never think you were faithless. You are the most loyal person I have ever known and ever will know for that matter. Garfield doesn’t know you; he’s just doing his duty. He’s a fair man though and he’ll make sure you get a fair trial.”
              Jakin kicked an ember back into the fire. “Trial? It won’t get to that. This is the army, Lucas.”
“And deserting is a capital offense.”
              “I would rather not have a trial.”
“If you don’t get a trial then Parson will be very pleased. You’ll be killed immediately.”
              “Will I?” said Jakin, with a mischievous look in his eye.
“Yes you…” Lucas stopped. “You’re not thinking of escaping are you?”
              Jakin did not answer.
“Don’t Jakin. You’ll be killed!”
              “And the world would be a rid of a ‘desperate criminal’,” said Jakin, with a humor that did not fit the time. “And who said they’ll catch me? Can they catch a bird with their bare hands?”
              “You’re a bit too egotistical," Lucas said, "but since that can’t be helped I might as well tell you that it’s not being caught that I’m afraid of. In fact, if they tried to catch you alive they’d lose several men.”
              “Then what are you afraid of? for I am afraid of nothing.” He said this with perfect solemnity and not a hint of a smile. This was no deadpan humor, but the complete truth, although it was not his habit to show it off before others.
              “I know that,” said Lucas with a tone which communicated the perfect trust he had in Jakin and the strength of his loyalty to him. “But I am more easily frightened. Parson will be watching you. He’ll shoot you at the first sign of escape and if I try to back you up before the Captain I’ll get myself so bruised when he finds me afterward that I won’t be able to talk. I’d do it for you of course, I’d do anything for you, but it’s not my preferred choice of action.”
              “You will help me though.” said Jakin; overriding and seemingly ignoring everything Lucas had just said.
Lucas nodded, “I would die for you.”
               “I know that. Don’t worry about me. I can take care of myself. Get some sleep.”
“They won’t allow me to sleep while you keep watch.”
               “They won’t know.” Lucas shrugged and rolled over, knowing that Jakin wouldn’t allow him to stay up and that Jakin would stay up, all night long if necessary.
             He lay down beside the stump Jakin had been sitting on while Jakin made a round of the entire camp. When he returned, Lucas was asleep. Some near forgotten code of decency or compassion moved him to lay his blanket over Lucas as the night grew colder and the dew fell. For a long time he stared into the fire, and then looked at Lucas, curled up at his feet, his blonde, curly hair tossed back and his pistol under Jakin’s wolf pelt blanket. He looked at him for quite awhile while thoughts went through his mind of the loyalty Lucas bore him. Why? He asked himself. There was nothing about him to inspire such love and loyalty, at least, not that he could see. He was a harsh man, disgusted with his country’s leaders’ actions, discontent with the world, angry at her people’s morals and cold and without love because of the trials she had presented to him. He felt he was no part of her. He himself was drafted four years before. He had resisted of course, but he wasn’t able to escape. He had been taken as a draft to Kenneth and then assigned to the twenty-third battalion, the one he was in now. 

 By the way, if you were wondering where the guitar tutorials are, they will be up in the next post. 

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