Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Apperance never equals reality - part 3

The old man and the boy were startled.
“But..but..we were not doing that. We were just resting” the old man mumbled.
“Resting? Is that what we pay you for?” she screamed.

Just then the matron entered her room and asked if everything was ok.
“No! Nothing is ok in this house. Looks like these two were planning to steal something. Else why would they dare to peep through my window?”
“Oh but madam, I can vouch for their honesty. They have been with us for months and I can assure you there are not that sort” said the matron in a soft voice.
“You have known them for months; but I have known servants for years. Let me be the judge of their character. Ask them to come to the main hall.”

The matron nodded to the old man outside and shut the window.

“We don’t know what we have got ourselves into now but I fear it,” said the old man. They both walked towards the front door. This would be the first time they would get to see the inside of the manor and see with their own eyes the beautiful objects the matron had described. How ironical that they should get to go inside after being accused of a crime that they had never even dreamt of committing.

They walked through the large wooden doors through which even an elephant could easily pass through. As they entered the beauty of the manor bedazzled them and for a while this shock numbed their fears. It was a full ten minutes later that the lady of the manor walked in. She was dressed in immaculately pressed starched clothes and it was not hard to tell that she was heading for her horse ride. She was holding the horsewhip and would slap it against her palms to display its firmness as she walked around them.

“So what were you intending to steal?” she asked looking at the ceiling.
“Silence you old fool. How convenient for an old man and a small boy to work together.”
“Madam we...” was all the little boy could mumble before the whip whizzed down on his back.
“Don’t you dare talk to me boy. I know your kind” and with that another crack.

Dolan, though small, was strong. He stood without flinching. And this angered her. She whipped again and again. The boy did not move though tears had begun to swell in his eyes.

“Stop” screamed the old man. “Please don’t hit him he is innocent.”
“Are you?” and with that came the whip on his back. The old man staggered. He slowly turned around. He put his arms on the boy’s shoulders.
“C’mon boy. Lets go. We need not live like this.”
“Never turn your back to a wealthy woman you silly fool,” she yelled.

They both reached the large door. The old man turned around. “The wealth that you display can be earned by anyone. The real wealth lies inside you. I’m afraid you hardly have any.”

“And what would a beggar turned servant know about any sort of wealth? And when your hunger subsides your arrogance you will return to me. Then I shall have the last word.”

The old man and the boy were well outside by the time she had finished what she had to say. They walked towards the front gate. They saw the matron looking down from the window and the old man nodded his head in appreciation of all the kindness he had shown.

That night, after several months, they both spent their second night on the streets. The boy lied on his side since the pain from the whips hindered him from lying on his back.

“Does it hurt?” the old man asked.
“It stings. But I can bear it.”
“I have underestimated your strength Dolan. From tomorrow we shall design our new destiny.”
“What destiny lies for two beggars?”
“That we shall see. But for now take ample rest. From tomorrow we have much work to do.”

The boy fell silent for a while. “You seem to be excited about something. What is it?”
“What is it? Well it’s just this. Tomorrow we start a journey. Journey deep into the hills.”
“But why?”

The old man sighed and kept quite. For several moments he looked at the boys eyes. Then he said:

“Everyday you asked so many questions about me. I avoided answering them. But what happened today has taught me one thing. People measure honesty and character by the amount of wealth you possess. You have become a son to me and I won’t let you lead a life that I have lead.” He paused for a moment before he whispered, “long ago I was a pirate.”

The next episode will be the last one. I could go on and on, but I want to end this. Please don't mind if it turns out too quick.


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