Icy Cloak and Silvery Lantern ~VIII~

Fiction By Elizabeth // 8/19/2011

Gun shots were roaring unceasingly. War had gripped by the waist the city’s walls. It was stifling in the small one-roomed house in which Adelaide had taken refuge in after praying in the chapel. The fire was blossoming to its full flaming power; yet, nay, its light was not bright enough to overcome the terror and sorrow of the injured soldiers, men, women, even children, lying on mattresses and blankets filling the room. Many were the wounded. Many were the gashes, tears, bullet-wounds to be tended. Many were the groans, sobs, and cries that quietly accompanied the rapid sound of gunfire.      

      Adelaide, both weary and sorrowful, carried a basin, cloth, and pitcher as she attended those who needed. Kneeling down, she gently took the arm of a young boy. It was horridly gashed. It bled; as red as the blood was, so as white was the face of the young boy. Adelaide gently placed her cloth over the wound and cleansed it gently with cool water from the stoneware basin she had laid on the floor beside her. The eyes of the boy were shut; as tight as he could close them he did so. Neither did his lips move, so tightly clenched were his teeth. Adelaide all the more gently took a bandage of white linen and tightly wound it about the arm so purely childlike. She gently caressed his forehead bedewed with sweat. He opened his eyes. Blue, blue as the sky in deepest summer they were. Adelaide leaned forward and kissed his moist brow.

       Adelaide stood. Looking about her she beheld all the misery: cares not caressed, sorrows unheard, fears un-listened to. Need by need she cared for. Hurt by hurt she attended to. She thought of nothing else but each person she tended. She could not bear to think of Lawrence and in what state he might be. It would cause her to tremble if she did so.         

      Her heart burned. To not be able to relieve these wounded people of their pain caused Adelaide to weep inside. There was a soldier who cried out, lying on a mattress against the far right wall. Adelaide swiftly went over to him. His chest bore every breath with an ever slowing pace. His hand was groping for something unseen along the ground. Adelaide grasped his hand and held it between her palms. His eyes were open, unmoving, fixed on the ceiling.      

     “My Father!” he cried in desperation.      

     “He hears you,” Adelaide whispered. A silence ensued.

      He squeezed her hand with a final strength. “He comes!” he whispered and he released his last breath.        

      Adelaide gently placed his hand down and drew up the white, white coverlet. As she made the sign of the cross, she heard a tumult from without the house. Everyone became silent. A few of the women reached either for a gun leaning against the wall, a pistol hidden in the drawer, or a rifle hung on the wall. Those wounded who were still alert sat up with an effort on their elbows. Adelaide walked quickly over to the young boy whom she had tended before and knelt down beside him. She had a knife and she would protect him.      

      There was a thunderous pounding on the door. The latch was hooked in its place but it tremoured with the violent slamming. Adelaide drew her knife that was tucked beneath her skirt. The wooden panels of the door began to crack and the door frame began to quiver. Adelaide quickly doffed her hood. The door fell. No light issued forth, only armed enemies. The guns roared from both the defendants and those who attacked. Adelaide crouched over the young boy. She would protect his frail, young body with hers. Women screamed, china crashed to the floor, men bellowed, men moaned. The medicine was being ravaged, bandages snatched, and food gathered up by the revolutionaries, and cruelly they stole lives of those already wounded and those who defended.      

      Adelaide glanced up. She saw a bearded man grimacing at her. It was Benoit, terrible and sly. Adelaide looked fiercely at him.

        “If you attempt to harm me or this boy, you will bemoan that you ever did so.”     

       “Nay, it will by ye that will moan but only for an instant for you will have no voice left.”

        “I would still have a voice, but not for human ears. My voice would be that in an army greater than your band of murderers and sweeter than that of the voice of your guns.”      

      Benoit snarled and cocked his rifle. Lifting it up, he aimed for Adelaide for she was his first enemy. Adelaide lifted up her unseen knife and prepared to cast it but another unobserved figure entered the room. A gun shot. Benoit slumped forward and fell to the floor. Adelaide, with her hood still drawn, looked up cautiously. The smoke so swirled about the room, that the figure that had entered looked ominous. A cocked hat was on his head, and a large polished rifle was in his hand. His boots were large and his stature tall and lofty. Taking his hat into his hand and swinging his rifle over his shoulder, he walked over to where Adelaide knelt. Bending forward slightly, he offered his free hand to Adelaide. She took it. Standing upon her feet and looking slightly downward so as to hide her countenance, she studied the man’s copper buttons that were on his greatcoat.

       “The boy, he is badly hurt?” the man asked gravely.

       “His arm is gashed badly; I believe the real hurt is deeper,” Adelaide replied.

       “And you? That man did not smite you nor cause you harm?”        

       “Nay,” she curtseyed. “Ye prevented him from doing so.”

       “I am glad of that. Come, help me.” The man stooped down and gathered up the boy in his arms. Adelaide picked up the blanket and sheathed her knife.         

      “Follow me,” the man ordered. Adelaide obeyed and passed with him outside. She glanced up when he had his back to her. She still could not discern whom he might be. He was taller than she had previously thought and she saw the strength that he possessed as he gently carried the boy over to a saddled horse. Adelaide followed him and pulled her hood yet lower.           

       “Mount my horse and I will pass up to you this boy. You must take him to the monastery that adjoins the cathedral. There he can receive care. Wait there for me. I will return to speak with you in the evening of tomorrow. Do not venture forth from the monastery’s walls. All is not at rest in the city.”            

       Adelaide nodded. She took the hand of a soldier who stood near the stirrup and he assisted her in mounting. Once mounted, the man lifted up the boy and placed him gently before her. Adelaide swiftly wrapped the blanket round him she had brought from the house and pulled him close to her. He was assuredly no more than ten years of age and was small enough for her to keep him in the saddle.

        “Take care not to stay the horse for any reason. Ride to the monastery; trust my words.”

         “I have no choice but to trust them, sir,” Adelaide replied and kicked the sides of the horse speeding him up the road, her cloak fluttering behind her.

Comments

Loved this!

This was awesome!! Definitely one of the best chapters yet... Great descriptions, and I really like Adelaide in this chapter, she had spirit. :) A cool ending line, too!

Hannah W. | Sat, 08/20/2011

I agree....

I agree with Hannah, this is the best chapter yet. I also like that you used the word 'fluttering' at the end.

Bernadette | Sat, 08/20/2011

@Adelaide: You go, girl!

@Adelaide: You go, girl!

Anna | Wed, 08/24/2011

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

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