Sue Vincent’s prompt this week for her #writephoto series is
Suited and Booted
In life Sir Humphrey ap Tyrol had been a patient man, always taking time and not making hasty judgements. He was much respected for his sage advice and loyalty. During the civil war, he supported his King with unquestioned fealty, at least to the outside world, but he questioned the wisdom of the King’s intransigence on several occasions to his closest confidants. As the fight gradually slipped from the Royalists, Humphrey found himself isolated in his home and finally, after one last siege, on the edge of death. His one regret, in those last moments was not being able to say farewell to his beloved wife and daughter. With his mind playing tricks and his strength fading, he dressed in his revered ancestor’s armour, and propped himself in position to take one last Model Army scum with him before he died.
In fact, when the house was finally searched, it was found to be empty and shut up. For whatever reason the suit of armour was left in place and there it stood until Jessica ap Tyrol, restored to favour and married to the nephew of the new king returned to her family home.
From within his metal coffin, Humphrey’s ghost watched his now grown daughter take possession of the house. Had he still a heart, it would have sung but his happiness and chance of peace was short-lived by the presence of her husband. Gefreye de Toit was a wastrel, a dissolute nothing, of noble stock but little breeding. He benefited only from having a family that had made shrewd if not moral decisions. He abused his wife, not physically, but in his slovenly behaviour, his disregard for her feelings and his affairs. They had one son who, so far as Humphrey could judge was too much like his father for Humphrey’s peace of mind.
And so Humphrey stayed and watched and waited, longing for the moment when he might rest in the knowledge that the family’s honour had truly been restored.
Humphrey stirred; how long had he been dozing? The house had been empty for generations but now there was noise and light as shutters were thrown back. Children! Oddly dressed and loud. He concentrated and counted the time that had passed. 450 years. The year 2000. Why had he woken now?
It didn’t take long to realise; these were his descendants, returned to the family seat. The parents, serious, stressed and always busy paid the old armour little mind but the children, a young lad and his older sister were fascinated. As he watched them they watched him. They seemed bright enough, common of speech and with less respect for their parents than he would have liked but kind to each other and full of life. The question was: did they care enough to let him go.
Humphrey had been keeping vigil for several days when, as the rain beat down outside, the children appeared in front of the armour.
‘Go on John. Dare you.’
The boy hesitated but after another sisterly nudge he reached up and pulled at the helmet.
Humphrey started, rattling the visor and making the boy leap back.
‘Don’t be silly,’ said the girl. ‘Let me.’ She took hold and pulled hard. With a violent wobble and a snap the helmet came loose as the rest of the armour fell over. The skeleton, held in place by the angle of the armour, came apart and Humphrey’s skull rolled out between the children. Humphrey held his breath, or the ghostly equivalent. They to his joy the girl picked him up and stared at his seemingly empty eye sockets. A tear formed and ran along her lashes. ‘I wonder who you were, you poor thing.’
The genuine sympathy squeezed the memory of Humphrey’s heart and at last, he felt free.