Time To Go
Numbskull scurried away. Kroll turned and scraped his boots on the stone floor. Ned felt elated. Some hope at last. The boy watched him leave and wondered how the jailors would react. Without a word, Numbskull and Side-Kick began to tidy up the broken table and chairs. The wooden panel was placed back over the hole. It closed with a loud clunk. Then Ned was led back to an empty cell and the clamp around his neck was unlocked. Before long, Numbskull returned with some food. Not the slop prisoners usually received, but some meat and potatoes. Spare clothes and Ned’s boots were dropped on the floor. A wooden bucket of water was placed down. The iron bars were locked shut.
Over the following days, Ned was treated relatively well. Food was brought twice a day and the jailors would not speak or even look at him. It suited him, but he found himself grinding his teeth whenever they came near. He had cleaned himself up and changed clothes. The aches and pains were beginning to ease and the swelling had gone down on his face. But a whopping black eye remained.
On the day of the market, Numbskull entered Ned’s cell and placed the clamp around his neck. The boy stared at the jailor. Numbskull pulled the end of the chain and dragged Ned away. The jailor was menacing, but he dared not hurt the prisoner. Ned looked back at his cell as he left. It was dark. The musty smell would remain in his nostrils for some time to come. And he would not miss the incessant sound of dripping water. Ned was led past the other cells and caught the eye of an inmate. An arm stretched out as he lay in a pool of blood. Although Ned was leaving the harsh existence, he felt sorry for the others. Their humiliation and degradation would continue. As he walked past Side-Kick, Ned gave him a long, hard stare.