Contempt

Early evening was setting in and an old man sat on a patch of icy grass opposite the church building site. He pulled a blanket up to his chin as a respite from the biting cold air. A couple in impeccable attire carefully walked in the fresh snow from beyond the churchyard. Their upturned noses raised a little higher when they saw the smelly down-and-out man. He had an apple by his feet. In one swift movement, the well-dressed man kicked the apple away as the prim lady tittered. Ice struck the tramp’s face and he flinched. Standing over the vagrant, a loud plummy voice cheeped out.

“We don’t want your sort around here! Begone!!”

Curtains rustled nearby as the face of a woman appeared. The well-to-do couple strolled down the High Street and smiled. But the hapless fellow felt humiliated and lowered his face. As the wind rose, movement stirred in the building beside the churchyard. A priest stood with hands on hips in the shadows of his open doorway. He saw the tramp’s predicament and sneered. The man of the cloth slammed the heavy wooden door shut.

The newcomers witnessed it all. Anger rose within Jorrin, but it was soon displaced by an overwhelming need to help. He shook his head and walked over to the old man. Jorrin knelt down and made sure the vagrant was warm enough in the bitter weather. Opening a bag, he took out a blanket and wrapped it around the old man, and then gave him some food. Jorrin returned to his family and whispered to his wife. They moved beyond the outskirts of the village and set up camp in the nearby forest. The family did not like what they saw and decided to be cautious. Over the coming months and into spring, they lived off the forest, river and nearby dales.

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