Of Innocence and Guilt (part 12a of 14)
Of Innocence and Guilt (part 12a of 14) postapocalyptic stories
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ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
Autoplay OFF   •   25 days ago
Hyle, my co-writer of this story, found a very important part of the story in her files so I have edited the original parts 12, 13 and 14 to accommodate this. Unfortunately, I have had to split part 12 into an 'a' and 'b' because of the limitations of the character count.

Of Innocence and Guilt (part 12a of 14)

While Shad slept that night, Hyle sat at the kitchen table, pen in hand well into the wee hours.

The recent developments at The Constabulary, the arrest of the Stanton boys, the deaf and dumb supper she had just shared with Shad, all weighed heavily on Hyle's mind,

interfering with the task in hand, namely the speech she was to give at Magrat's funeral.

So it was probably around 02:00 when Hyle finally folded the sheets of paper and placed them in her handbag.

07:30 and Kirsten arrived, Shadwell had long left to his duties. Hyle was thankful that her good friend had stepped forward and offered her support this day.

It was good to have such a friend, and one who was sufficiently detached from the running of Hope Springs as to give a separate perspective of the whole situation.

Kirsten placed the garish looking long box, emblazoned with Rico Martinez trademarks on Hyle's kitchen table.

"Don't worry, he has done a good job. The box is loud, but the dress is not, it is perfect." Kirsten smiled as she greeted Hyle with a hug.

This was a saving. Hyle had realised that every black dress she owned fell into the 'Little Black Number' category and so were totally unsuitable for delivering a eulogy to a town in mourning.

Hyle picked the dress out of the box and looked at it. It was true, Rico had delivered measured, sober style.

"Tak sa meget."

"Don't mention it, it's why I am here. Ok. Let's get you looking the part."

Any concerns about the decoration of the school hall were unfounded. Winona Barrow and her team had been hard at work since the crack of dawn.

It seemed every bloom from every garden in Hope Springs had been commandeered into an impressive display of wreaths and bouquets around the school hall and hiding the trestles

which awaited Magrat's casket. The Silver Soldiers still fussed here and there when Hyle and Kirsten arrived, welcomed by school headmistress Ytte.

"They just took over." Ytte shrugged. "Everything is ready."

Hyle glanced at the clock, stifling the growing tenseness in her gut. People were already gathering outside the school to pay their final respects. It seemed the whole town was there.

The many disparate groups that had formed around the constabulary, the town hall, and other places that morning had now converged to attend the funeral.

Ten minutes to go. Hyle, Kirsten and Ytte opened the doors and welcomed each person as they filed inside. Soon, the hall was filled to capacity.

Hyle found herself clenching her hands to stop them visibly shaking. Her smiles, although genuine, felt a little forced.

She glanced inside at the sea of heads, listened to the murmuring and the shuffling of feet.

Until respectful silence fell over the gathered throng.

The coffin, bore aloft by six men, one of whom was Taiyoko, approached the school gate. Behind that came Chief Constable Bartosiewicz and four constables.

Doctor Troy and Nurse Maisie led the procession into the hall. Hyle fell into step behind with Ytte.

The coffin was placed on the trestles.

As Winona Barrow fussed, arranging flowers around the casket, Doctor and Mayor Troy took seats to the left of the podium; Headmistress Skovlund took station behind the school lectern.

Silence filled the room.

The headmistress looked out on the ranks of expectant faces displaying a calm aura that could hold the attention of scores of restless children easily held the attention of

the gathered throng of townsfolk.

"Welcome." Ytte said softly, but her voice carried to the far reaches of the hall.

"It gladdens my heart on this sorrowful occasion to see so many gathered here to pay their respects and I am grateful to open the school hall to host this assembly.

" She paused for a moment, seeing many people nodding respectfully. She glanced to her right, to Hyle and smiled.

"I would now like to invite Mayor Hyle Troy to say a few words in memory of Margaret Louise." Ytte let her eyes fall to the coffin which stood on the trestles in front of her podium. "Magrat.

As we came to know her."

Ytte bowed her head slightly and stepped back from the podium, silently inviting Hyle to step up and address the people.

As a ripple of murmuring spread through the crowd,

Mayor Troy took her place at the lectern; pausing to let her gaze remain with Magrat in her coffin for a few moments as the memories of the strong willed, enthusiastic teenager filled her mind.

Hyle looked up at the room, full to capacity with the many townsfolk. She pulled herself up and stood as firm and as strong as her slender build allowed.

Her pale blue eyes had everyone's attention. She cursed her knees for shaking and hoped it was not noticeable She drew breath.

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