Proof of Worth

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The stew was meagre, but with the scraps of meat that the silent girl had brought it was filling. With her belly full, she slept long into the morning, and by the time she stirred the crowd was already packed around the gate.

She rubbed her neck as she got up and looked around. The sunlight glinted off the spears of the men above the gate, and they looked down impassively at the crowd.

“Please,” she heard someone call out. “If you won’t let us in, just give us some food!”

The silent girl joined the crowd, but their bodies were packed so tightly that she couldn’t move forward. She moved around the back, leaning on her stick and standing on tiptoe to try and see over the people in front. After a few minutes, she shook her head and returned to her spot at the side of the road.

She waited. Eventually, as she had seen from the distance on previous mornings, the armed men dispersed the crowd by force. They moved away, taking the bodies of the dead and injured away with them, and the gate was clear once more.

It was almost noon. The sun was high in the sky and the hopeless and the needy retreated to the shade of their makeshift tents and huts. They slept; there was little else they could do in the rising heat.

The men above the gate remained vigilant, despite the heat beating down on their armour. They were the only ones who watched as the silent girl approached the gate.

It was solid; made from some kind of heavy wood. She could see faint scratches where  the desperate and the needy had hammered and clawed at it, but she could see no evidence of any lock, switch or indeed any mechanism to operate it.

“It won’t open,” came a shout from above. “Go home, girl.”

She laid her hand flat on the gate. It felt warm, even though it was sheltered from the sun. The warmth spread from her hand and up her arm. A rumble began low beneath her feet, and the gate shook beneath her hand.

The people in their tents and huts stirred. The men above the gate leaned over to see what was happening, One by one they all came to the same realisation.

“It’s opening… the gate is opening!”

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note: A continuation from Wednesday’s tale, more on the Silent Girl.)

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