For Part FOUR, click HERE
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Gillae rubbed his chin, regal as any king I ever saw and sat silent and brooding as he considered all the things I had said. He was weighing my story, weighing me by some measure that I knew not but I cared very much to be found adequate and worthy of his good judgment.
A short and chubby shepherd stepped up to Gillae and began to speak to him in whispered tones that I couldn’t make out. Gillae nodded and answered something back, and then the little butterball stepped back to the small group of shepherds and began to urge them out to the flocks, and there they went to work gathering the sheep together as if to make a journey.
“Well, King. You are fortunate that we happened upon you. Our good man Dannaeo says that we should bring you with us on our journey, and I concur. It seems that your quest overlaps considerably with an errand that we have recently been…charged with. The boys are gathering the sheep, and when they are finished, we will fashion a means to take you with us.”“Sir Shepherd,” I said, “you have mentioned dramatic and unsettling events. Pray tell, what happened to you and how did you stumble upon me?”
Gillae fixed his eyes upon me and stared sharply. He shifted his great bulk and rubbed his jaw reluctantly.
“Please, Sir, speak up,” I commanded in as regal a manner as I could summon. He cast his eyes down, and said “Very well Sir King. I will tell you enough to get us all to the fold in the same herd, but most pressing is our errand.
“Nigh on three hours past sunset the boys and me were on the move from yon ridgeline headed toward this very field to set the flock in for the night. It is well protected and the sheep love the sweet grass of this swale. Brownie had the flock well bunched and moving a good clip. Up at the head of the copse yonder we began to allow the flock to spread out, and we looked for firewood in amongst the trees. Dannaeo rustled up some grub and soon we were cozy in the shelter and settling in for a cold but not unpleasant evening.
“Several of the boys were nodding off and there was peace in the still night. But things began to change. I noticed that the sheep were restless and stirred myself to look for some slinker that wanted an easy meal. The air grew heavy, and shivery like, and then began to glow with golden glimmers that grew brighter each passing moment. Suddenly there was a brilliant burst, like when a big knot bursts in the midst of a roaring fire, and standing before us was a gigantic shining man! I must confess that I was undone, and I fell to my face before him like a dead man.”
“YOU DID NOT, GILLAE!” shouted an outraged high-pitched voice. I looked over and saw that young Brownie had been lingering on the edge of our conversation listening in. He rushed into our midst and began to shout, “Gillae is always changing things around to cover up his bravery! He is the biggest and bravest shepherd of all, and he stood up to that guy and made him tell us wh—”
“Hush yourself Brownie!” Gillae said sternly. “Since when did I ever teach you that it was polite to eavesdrop on the conversation of others, let alone listen in to a royal report to a King?”
Brownie dropped his eyes and hung his head. “Umm, never sir” he mumbled.
“What was that, young whelp? I can’t hear you,” Gillae chastised, all the while managing to conceal the indulgent look in his eye. It was evident to me that Gillae loved Brownie very much, and was secretly pleased with the spunk and spirit of the young shepherd.
“Brownie, it is important that ye learn to listen twice as much as you talk. This will please the Maker to see you use EACH of your ears so when you return to Him you will be full of wisdom and not emptied of sense.”
“Aww, yes Sir” Brownie mumbled, but then his fire rose up and he just couldn’t help himself, bursting out with “but Gillae, if this is a king he should KNOW of what you are!”
“That will be QUITE enough, Jubal Dripsten…do you HEAR me!” This time the note of command and chastening was unmistakable and evident. “Back to the flock with ye, and make things ready. Have Mikkens and Towser fashion a litter upon which we can bear our companion. Sir King, I apologize for this whelp. He is young and impetuous.” Gillae followed Brownie’s departure with his gaze.
“No apologies needed, Sir Shepherd” I retorted. “I too have been his age. But pray tell me more, and do feel free to give me the full story.” I sensed that there was more to the tale than Gillae was telling…indeed there was more to this man than he was revealing.
“Oh, well. Let’s see…where was I?” he muttered.
“I believe you were laying on the ground like a dead man?” I remarked dryly.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** For Part Four, click HERE