Thursday, December 27, 2012

Test of Freedom - Episode 20

Episode 20 - "Work In The Smithy"
by Camille LaGuire

Rocken was not at all sure there wouldn't be more trouble.  He didn't want to push a crisis before it was necessary, but he did want to know where things stood.

After three days of healing, he gave Jack invalid work to do; helping the slaves in the cook tent.  No sign of trouble there, except that Jack made an unsuccessful attempt to be friendly with the slaves, too.  He nearly got scalded for his trouble, but he was quick.

"Jack," said Rocken.  "Don't you know that slaves and prisoners are natural enemies?"

Jack straightened up from his task of scooping grain.  He glanced at him, but remembered not to look him in the eye.  Clearly it was a struggle.  He looked back down into the pot, and then up again.

"You know, Mr. Rocken, you frighten me."

"That's my job, Jack."

"No, I mean that you keep asking me questions that are likely to get me into trouble, but you seem to want an honest answer."

Rocken felt himself grow hot, like Jack had poked him somewhere sore.

"You're too direct, Jack," he snapped.  "You've got to learn otherwise."

"Aye, sir."

"I've got some work in the smithy for you.  Is your back up to it?"

"I hope so."  Jack was cautious now, like he should be.  But he kept glancing up at Rocken, with a kind of curiosity that made Rocken uncomfortable.

Rocken gave him several tasks; repairing bucket handles and making nails and such.

"And if you get done with that, I need you to make some shackles."

"Aye," said Jack, not looking at him.

Rocken simply wanted to know how far the man's conscience went.  Would he make shackles?  It would take some effort for him to avoid it, and Rocken wouldn't have to punish him for disobedience if he managed it.  But then Rocken would know if there would be trouble when Clement decided that Jack could do the job of the expensive smith that came once a month.

When he came back in the evening, Rocken was surprised to find that Jack did make shackles.  It was a relief.  The man's conscience didn't go that far.  Or he had learned to rein it in.

"I thought I heard the sound of a rasp as I came up," he said.  Jack picked up the shackles and showed him.

"I'm not a great smith," he said.  "I was filing off the rough bits."

Rocken almost asked him if that's why he had made them at all, to be sure they were more comfortable.  He had to stop asking those sorts of questions.  Jack would answer them, and the man was right, it would push them both into trouble.

Rocken just wished he could shake that feeling that the trouble was inevitable.

The Test of Freedom ebook available at major retailers in December 2012. It will be slightly rewritten from the version you see here.

The first book in this series, The Wife of Freedom is at most ebook retailers.
Amazon Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Deisel, Kobo, and Smashwords

Also, Amazon International: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

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