Monday, July 16, 2012

The Devil in Jutland (vi)


           Ten years later, a stranger entered the town.  He wore a long and ragged coat, and shoes with holes that he had stuffed with newspaper.  He had a long beard.  His face was so filthy it was nearly black.  His hands shook and he muttered to himself, as if imparting secrets to the air.  As he walked from the strand to the town square, someone alerted Constable Andersen.  He came striding out to intercept the man, and holding out a broad hand, halted him.
            “That’s far enough, fellow,” the Constable barked.  “There is no crime in being poor and sick, but the people here have given me a job to do, and I must do it.  I’ll have you driven anywhere you want to go – anywhere in reason.  But you must take it out of this town.”  The man had stopped moving and listened keenly to the Constable.  Before he spoke, his cloudy eyes seemed to clear for a moment, and a glint of mischief filled them.  He stepped forward and smiled impishly.  Despite his filthy face, his teeth were white and gleaming.  The Constable squared his shoulders and grasped his truncheon.
            “You don’t recognize me, Constable Andersen?”  The voice was deep and resonant and familiar, but the Constable could not at first place it.  When he did, he removed his hand from the truncheon.
 “Soren Christensen?”

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