The Fool on the Hill
Posted on March 21, 2008
(A story set in the pre-Revolution days of Old Ireland, when the British still held power, and all thoughts of independence and emancipation were deemed the impossible ramblings of deluded fools…) Yes, is there a hint of the Allegory here? Applicable to today? Here? Now? Can we, frustrated writers today, achieve much good, if only… we would believe in ourselves?
They mocked him…
To them, he was a fool. Some kind of retard, who loved to walk along the sea shore, explore the forests, and climb the mountains. Who had been observed, many times, standing on craggy peaks, arms outstretched, eyes closed, and a beatific smile on his weather beaten face. And apparently he wrote poetry as well.
Oh, how they laughed!
He was sport for them. A moron, a mentally deficient, shallow creature. They poked fun at him, but he retaliated not. They made rude remarks about him, and their stage whispers, designed to carry well beyond his hearing, were cutting and unkind. They mocked his birth, his parentage, his intelligence, and his sanity. They laughed uproariously at their own jokes. Falling around, and slapping one another on the back.
When that produced little or no reaction, they stepped up their ridicule, and stood in his way, or jostled about him. In this way, he would be pushed from behind, or grabbed in a head lock. He would be punched, or kicked. Occasionally, somebody spat at him.
When they were drunk, a not infrequent event, they would become abusive, and threaten him. Taking offense at the slightest thing, it seemed they were offended, deeply, personally, by his refusal to become angry at them, or even to take much notice.
He, for his part, quietly continued on his way. Even when they stole what little money that he had, to add to their own plenty, he seemed to take little offense. When he went hungry because of their cruelty, it was clear that he was hurting. But somehow, strangely, uniquely, he marched on. He always picked himself up. Nothing could knock him down permanently. He, of all people, had reason to be bitter and angry, but was not.
I, for my part, a passive observer, long since beaten into a sullen silence, marveled quietly at his peace. I was angry at the world, cynical and unbelieving. I could have intervened, but I had long since given up my idealism. I accepted the world’s ugliness and injustice with a shrug of the shoulders. There was nothing I could do, I told myself.
The day I met him, heading purposefully towards the highest point on the mountains named “McGillycuddy Reeks “, was just another typical Irish day. Windy, rain drenched, muddy and frustrating. I myself, herding ungrateful cattle down the steep mountain side, was in no mood for pleasantries, and I seem to recall I answered his smile with a studied frown. He, for his part, moved serenely along, seemingly immune to my embittered scowl. Onwards he stepped, up the ragged mountain slope, moving amongst the Irish heather and the ferns as if he was stepping into his very own living room parlor.
What made me turn around, I will never know. What it was that made me pause, and study the retreating figure, I have no way of telling. But I know I watched him, and I know his passage moved me more than I wished to admit. I don’t know what came over me. But thirty minutes later, when we crested the mountain, I was still following him.
If he knew I was there, he never looked back. He went straight to the highest point, and stood there, staring out over our beleaguered Ireland. Our Ireland, our mother country, occupied by the hated British. Our Ireland, raped and sullied by the absentee landlords, the plunderers, the oppressors of the Irish people. He… just took it all in.
And then, he spread out his arms. His eyes shut tight, his lips moving soundlessly, he stood there, the cold rain beating off his face, for hours.
I, for my part, the cynic, the unbeliever, the defeated, I remained there, rooted to the very spot…. I don’t know why.
I think… I sensed… for a little while, a transient while, a fleeting moment… an intensity of love … that I never even knew existed. I sensed a tidal wave of love, an overwhelming love, an all encompassing love… and I know I was humbled.
Of course, I would never admit to it. I wouldn’t want to be ridiculed.
I’m not stupid, you know.
Last edited by Francis Meyrick on June 9, 2013, 7:26 am