Forever 1.6: The Cave, A Man of Distinction.

            The light in the cave came in through several cracks in one wall.  Glen wondered if the light was from the outside.  He imagined it had to be and wondered further what that outside might look like.  It took considerable searching, but at last Glen found a crack that was big enough to squeeze through.  At thirty-something, he did not yet have the belly that so many men developed, so the squeeze was not too bad.  “Stress had its pluses,” he moaned as he tried not to rip the buttons on his shirt.

            It was not the outside, yet.  It was another room in the cave, and this one had an open archway for a door.  There was also a man dressed in a long, ermine lined robe, who sat on a high backed chair.  Glen might have imagined a throne if the chair paint was not peeling.  The man faced the open archway, so he had not seen Glen.  Glen stood for a moment and seriously debated returning the way he came; but then the man spoke.

            “Come in, citizen.  You have interrupted my thoughts already.  I might as well get a look at you.”

            “I’m sorry,” Glen said.  “I did not mean to interrupt.”  He walked around to the front where the man could see him and he could get a closer look at the man.  He avoided putting his back to the open archway, just to be safe.

            “A rather ordinary looking lout,” the man decided.

            Glen saw a man who was tall and gaunt.  He was way too thin, Glen thought.  “My name is Glen, and you are?”

            “I am the leader.”  The man appeared taken aback that Glen did not already know this. 

            “The Leader?”  Glen really did not know.  The man stood, and Glen thought he was too tall as well as being too thin.

            “Yes. The leader, the leader.”  The man gave a look of exasperation.  “Look, someone has to be the leader.  I am the only scholar here, the only one who is able to consider all the options and then recommend a course of action for the followers to take.  It is simple, really.  Someone has to be the leader, and by all rights it ought to be the intelligent one.  Don’t you think?”

            “Let me say this.”  The man straightened, grabbed his lapels and prepared to give a speech.  He cleared his throat.  “Authority cannot fairly be shared.  It is the one thing in life that must be vested.  Why, if we listened to the ordinary people there is no telling what sort of suggestions we might get.  It would be anarchy, I tell you, everyone for themselves.  Only one can rightly set the agenda for everyone to follow.  It is a great and grave responsibility to have such authority, I know.  But I believe my old shoulders can bear it for a while longer.  It is good to hear your concern, but you can trust that I will bear the burden with dignity and recommend only what is best for all.  Thank you.  Thank you.”  He waved, though there was no crowd to applaud. 

            “Oh, I see,” Glen said, though he really did not see.  He glanced at the archway opening and wondered if there might be a way out, and the leader spoke again.

            “Now please, if you don’t mind I have much to consider.”  He made a show of sweeping his ragged ermine robe aside and sat again on his throne.  “Why don’t you go down the hall to the officer in charge.  He will give you something to do.”  He pointed out the opening and waggled his finger like he was waving Glen off.  “And tell him I am not happy with him.  Part of his job is to see I am not interrupted by ordinary citizens such as yourself.”

            “Down the hall?”  Glen asked.

            The leader looked up and frowned.  “Do you know your right hand?”  Glen raised his right hand.  The leader almost scolded him for being wrong but at the last second turned his back, waved both of his hands and said, “Good.  Go out into the Great Hall and turn to your right.  The officer’s door is the first door on your right.”

            With that, Glen thought he had better go before the leader became seriously agitated.  He stepped through the archway and into the Great Hall.

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