THE “CHOICE” – 1200 YEARS AGO
(From a book I am reading):*
Left alone in the fens:
The “boy” was 14 years old and was left alone for days, with only his dog for companionship. Today we would call that “child abandonment; but then it was called relying on the watchfulness of a young man of 14 years. He was strong and good, watchful and smart.
Good; of good and trustworthy character.
He was left alone for a few days by his father and a companion to take care of their small house, a hut really, in the middle of the lonely fens of … England.
Fens. We don’t really think about “fens” in America. Not so that we’d be familiar with them. I’m sure a physical geographer could identify fens, perhaps in South Carolina where the Swamp Fox practiced guerilla warfare against the British in the Revolution — 240 hundred years ago — but mostly we are a nation of dryer lands: prairie, plains, deserts, high plateaus, dryer mountain ranges, forests, and valleys.
The boy was left waiting on a small island of dryer land in the midst of a swampy, marshy area, where his little home had been built. He was well-fed by an abundance of fish and fowl. His portion of dry land was connected to other pieces of dry land, pathways, really between the wetlands, small ponds and rivers, which provided transportation and food — and danger.
The boy’s big hound protected him from the wolves, which were a very real threat, even though his people, the Saxons, had pretty successfully gotten rid of most of these terrifying predators. But in addition to wild animals, there was the ever present threat of the Danes.
The Danes had arrived a few generations ago and had conquered many areas of Britain. They were the greatest enemy, the greatest present threat to those tribes who were native to Britain – even to the Britons themselves. The Danes were rough and violent conquerors, and they were pagans. Their aim was to own Britain, to rule the land, to enslave the more useful of the people they conquered, and to eradicate Christianity.
And they were pretty much succeeding when this little book opens. The father and uncle eventually come home, but the Danes were on their way. Then all three are off to join other groups of fighting men in hopes that they can turn back the onslaught of the Danes.
In the first battle, they fight these Danish Vikings well and push them back a little.
The fourteen year old fights valiantly alongside his father, but his strong young body is not quite strong enough for the big warriors he must fight off; he is too young, too small yet. Too many times the father had to shield the boy’s body from the strong arm of a seasoned Danish warrior.
In another battle, a more desperate one, the father knows that he will likely die, and he gives orders for his son to hold back along the far edges of the battlefield, and he gives order to his friend to go to his son if he, the father, should fall in battle. To go to his son and take him to the king.
Both son and friend do not want to leave the man’s side, but he is the father, and there is no thought of disobeying his word. The father dies, the friend saves and guards the son; the father’s name lives on.
The young man, Edmond, becomes friend and companion to King Alfred of the Saxons and fights faithfully at his side. And the story goes on . . . .the Danes are defeated, and England becomes part of history, part of our world.
Now here we are. Many hundreds of years later. Our lands are being invaded. As the Danes conquered place after place in Britain, so our lands, Europe and America and Canada, are being cleverly and efficiently invaded – just not by Danes this time, and not only by machete, knives, guns, and explosive devices.
I look for the intelligence to define the enemy. I look for leadership to unite us in the cause of self-preservation. I look for “soldiers” who are strong enough and smart enough to fight off the invading forces. I look for men of good character that can be relied upon to defend us.
There are many ways to fight, but it is a soldier’s fighting spirit that we need.
It’s a spirit that makes us think that we, ourselves, are worth preserving.
.* The Dragon and the Raven by G.A Henty