Chapter Three- Minstrels and Mallards #2

They ate their dinner in silence. Aluitte’s father told her to not worry, but the little girl could sense his own anxiety. Her father was still unusually quiet and often stared into the distance as if brooding over the news. There would be campaigns, he had said, and stories of bravery and triumph. However, like almost everything, Aluitte trusted his true belief. Aluitte’s father was wise. People sometimes called him cowardly, but there was no cowardice in following one’s own instinct and walking away from the social norm. No, there was no cowardice in knowing the truth behind war.

            Aluitte’s father, after all, knew only the important things in life. Sure there would be glory, but there would also be pain. Pain was not something he could let his daughter go through. There was a limit to how much her father was willing to sacrifice for the kingdom, and he was already balancing precariously on that limit (what with taxes and all). His daughter's happiness meant everything to him.

            That night went much the same as it had the night before. Aluitte waited. Her father sat pensively by the fire. Aluitte fell asleep. Her father came to kiss her goodnight, lingering at the sight of his daughters peaceful and innocent dreaming. As Aluitte's conscious was pulled briefly from the deepness of her sleep, her father fumbled back down the stairs and blew out the lamps.

***

            Aluitte woke up late. The sounds of the pasture were already in full swing and her father had set a plate of food out for her on the table. Aluitte got dressed slowly, savoring the laziness of her perfectly uneventful morning. Her father was out tending the sheep, and Aluitte would eat her meal of cold potatoes in simple satisfaction. It was as if nothing had happened.

            Of course, something had happened. As the sun rose higher in the sky, Aluitte watched from her spot in the grass as men of a variety of sorts, began to trickle down the road past her house and into town. Some were farmers, others were boys just barely of age. All of them looked proud, even the ones that had women trailing behind, begging them not to leave. Aluitte occasionally looked up from her geometry book to watch the men, and wondered what on good earth would make them want to enlist in the war.

            Aluitte's father occasionally came to join Aluitte. When this happened, the younger boys would throw insults at him, commenting rudely on his lack of patriotism and loyalty. When this happened, Aluitte's father would only smile and wave back. Aluitte would then ask why the other men had said harsh things. Aluitte's father would look back into space and give her an answer she didn't really understand at all. Then he would smile back down at her.

            "There is a difference between great men and simple men, my little one. Someday you will understand that it is often the simple man that chooses to use his muscle rather than his head."

The End

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