The Village Fool (part one).

The Village Fool.

On a wet and windy winter’s day

Wrapped in a blanket in the church doorway

No one knew who had placed him there 

A scribbled note simply said, “Simon, please take care.”

Perhaps his parents have passed in the “Great Sickness”.

An only child, left alone in the darkness

The village elders declared that it was their Christian duty

To show compassion and kindness and charity

So the blacksmith’ widow was chosen to care

For the foundling infant to nurse and to rear.     

Simple Simon they called him

They said he was slow and dim

Because he was such a stupid chap

He had to wear a dunce’s cap

And sit in the corner on his stool

He being such a silly fool

They teased and taunted without mercy

 And the best he could hope to be 

Was to be the village fool

Then, children can be very cruel.

The teacher was a patient man and tried his very best

To help Simon to keep up with the rest

But it all seemed to be in vain

A decent level of education, he would never attain

They tried to find a solution and wondered why

His mind was like a butterfly

That flitted through the wild meadow flowers

So easily distracted yet he could sit for hours

At his desk, in deep concentration 

And never join the conversation.

Then suddenly he would speak

And recite an entire lesson from last week

Word for word exactly as was spoken

As if his mind had suddenly awoken 

As if from some alternative reality 

It was both fascinating and scary

The children laughed at first but some began to cry

Their parents grew more concerned as time went by

Some said that he should be sent away

To a place that would care for him night and day

He would be better off among his own kind 

Those of a slow and simpler mind

Not with  “normal” children, yes that would be best.

Where he would not have to worry or feel stressed.

An elegant lady, all dressed in black

She had been quietly sitting at the back

A stranger, she was not from around here

Her voice was strong, commanding  and clear

A gasp like a wave rippled through the congregation

“I will take him and see to his needs and education

His religious and his social upbringing

Where he will  learn poetry, music and singing”

“He will learn to appreciate the fine arts and philosophies

To converse in the company of both gentlemen and ladies 

Appropriate protocols, etiquette and good manners

On the important issues of the day and topical matters”

A carriage came for Simon the very next day

His meagre possessions and baggage all stowed away

As a small group of children and adults came to say farewell

Good Luck, good fortune and to wish him well

To be honest, most were delighted and relieved

To see the back of him, if rumours were to be believed

Fortune had smiled on the village, or so they said 

Now they could get back to normal living instead

Simon just sat there, neither speaking, nor smiling

No one seemed to know or care how he was feeling

A strange sense  of calmness, not a trace of emotion

Though the four black horses, caused quite a commotion

There were no speeches from the village elders

They had gathered to meet with the church ministers 

Like vultures gathered in anticipation

Grasping the Judas coins of compensation

Sworn to secrecy on their honour and a purse of gold

Their silence bought, the story could never be told

Their memories became clouded,  their lips sealed 

Only to a chosen few, the real truth had been revealed

Meanwhile, amid the waves and the cheers

The blacksmith’s widow shed a few tears

Then he was gone, without looking back 

As the black carriage disappeared down the track.

To be continued..

© Denis Murphy 03 October 2022.

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