Monday 13th June 2011
How a protest led to progress
“T-CHA! T-cha! T-cha!”
So it was that I chanted my demand, as if trying to work a spell, while Martin and Gary delayed, debated, deliberated and demonstrated their anxiety, bewilderment, displeasure and discordance, until, eventually, Martin departed the cell, leaving Gary to console me with overtures of kindness and attempts, unsuccessful, to persuade me to cease my lament, until, at last, Martin returned with an unshaven male of my height, who wore no serf’s insignia and who, on being introduced to me as T-cha, shrugged, smiled, looked me straight in the eye and seemed to be opening his arms in the Rhetan manner of greeting a stranger.
He spoke quietly. I stepped forward, told him I was Virgulle and welcomed his embrace.
Gary hurried to the drinks cabinet, but Arthur wished only for a tumbler of water and there was to be no Jack Pot ceremony on this occasion. The three men talked while I remained sitting at the table with my drawing. Gary showed him the cartoon story and Arthur laughed. He looked at my hurried sketch and nodded.
Whenever Arthur looked in my direction, he smiled. He wore a white singlet, plain leggings and sandals. His skin was darker than that of the others, the hands rougher, the hair less kempt. I thought him likely to be a forester, tinker or beachcomber. He may not be versed in the skills of tuition, but there was a straightforwardness to his manner I found amiable.
Martin took a wallet from the lining of his jacket and gave Arthur three identical papers with blue markings. Perhaps these contained secret messages which would explain why Martin had been keeping them hidden, but Arthur put them into a leggings pocket, without reading them, as if thinking them unimportant.
When their conference ended, he sat by me at the table, placing a hand on mine.
“Virgulle, I am Arthur. I will be your teacher. Shall we?”
He picked up my drawing and gestured towards the door, inviting me to lead the way out of the room.