The carriage sat idle between the gas lamps in a hazy mist of a cold Boston gloom. Nuelle heard the hoof falls a moment before Griffin, who was dozing. Nuelle startled, pulled sharply to her right, nearly upsetting the carriage. In doing so, she freed herself from the carriage and faced the direction of what was approaching.
Griffin, now fully awake, climbed down, trying to assess what was going on. The
hoofbeats grew louder as they approached. There appeared through the fog a pale horse and pale rider. The willowy rider wore a scraggly white beard and from this viewpoint a pot used for cooking upon his head. The base of the lance he carried rested on a plate suspended from his saddle.
The riders aged horse stood two hands taller than Nuelle. Had Griffin not held the reins that Nuelle still had from her collar, he was sure that Nuelle would make quick work of horse and rider.
“You are no longer needed!” The old man rocked feebly on his horse. After he had spoken, it seemed like he chased a flea that called his beard home. “What are you saying? Just who sent you here?” Griffin tensed listening for other riders. Strange things happen in the in-between.
“Look at your book. When was the last time you had a fare? People don’t need you. This new crowd, they are all about today. What happened yesterday does not interest them, and besides, they don’t believe what is told to them. Their generation thinks there will be no tomorrow.” The rider sat tall carrying his accusation, still scratching at his beard. His horse stepped to his right, trying to get a better angle on Nuelle. The lance was moved slightly forward, to be more menacing. Griffin scratched his cheek, more from the power of suggestion,
than anything else. When he realized he was doing so, his hand dropped to his side. “Plenty of people still need us,” he touched Nuelle on her shoulder. She did not take her eyes off the rider.
Griffin tired of the conversation. He walked over to the carriage and returned it parallel to the curb. He checked the rigging and guided Nuelle back into position. Both Nuelle and Griffin kept an eye on the man with the lance. Griffin climbed to the seat and grabbed his book. He walked over to Nuelle and took an apple out of his pocket and cut it into four pieces. He fed two pieces to Nuelle and walked over to the aged white beast and her rider and fed two pieces to her.
Until tomorrow: The calling of the humanities is to make us truly human in the best sense of the word.