Author: Elizabeth Windsor-Soup

Chapter 8

                                               Chapter Eight

                                           THE SECRET JOURNEY  

     Maria and I made our way down to the cellar and into to the laboratory. There is an eerie feeling about the place. The mood feels surreal and it fascinated me. I had made an historical journey, and, to my knowledge, I am the only human that had ever travelled in time and space. Yet, I had an intuition that I might not have been the only person to journey in a similar manner.


     "Do you feel, Maria, that Doctor Sprig might have used the time machine himself? He disappeared, after all. If he did utilise this machine, then where did he go? Look about this place. The clues are here for all to see. The wall, bricked up from the inside, that sort of thing," I mused allowed.


     Maria took my arm and kissed my cheek. "Wherever Doctor Sprig had gone, he is not here, so it matters not, my sweet love," she replied, giving my hand a squeeze.  


     I saw her expression change, to one of sadness; then she moved to stand before me. She folded her arms and looked down toward her feet.


     "As much as I would wish, it would be wrong to travel into the past to visit my father. It would be selfish to do so, and I would be so upset, knowing his fate. Even if I tried to go way, way, back and stop his smoking habit. I am sure that my father would resist to the point of alienating me. What, too, if I should meet myself, or my family see two of me? That would really freak them out!"


     I wiped a tear from her cheek, and held her close, her head fell into my chest, and I felt her arms around me. I knew that she had reasoned well enough for me not to argue with her articulate rational. Over her shoulder, I gazed at the time machine and wondered if I should not attempt what is in my heart to do.


     I ushered Maria to sit for a while. The needed for her to advise me, whether or not I should visit the period I wrote of in my book, to meet with King Harold, or indeed, with the Duke William of Normandy.  


     "We could learn so much," she said. "Besides, if you decided to undo whatever mess you'd made, you could always return to the current time before you left, and disarm the time machine, destroying the doctor's papers, so that time travel would never be accomplished. You see, my love, there is always a reasoned argument to complement any action that is not made to perform evil. Go and do what you feel you must do, and, as I said, you will always be able undo what you have done, and history will return to what it was, or how we know it today."  



     The reader will now understand why I married this woman. Not only is Maria very, very pretty, she has one heck of a brain to complement her amazing personality. Mind you, if her reasoning on this subject is not spot on, then I might not be writing this story, and, of course, you would not be reading this paragraph, thus I would have messed up history, and my name might be amongst those most infamous, such as Stalin, Hitler, G.W. Bush and the witch, Margaret Thatcher.



     "I'm competent enough to use the time machine without assistance, Maria. I do have enough energy in reserve to control the APT belt, so, I guess that I could take a reconnaissance trip. I would be, in this time, but a fleeting moment, as I did when I first used the vehicle," I said, picking up my now fully charged mobile phone.


     My confidence, without Bill being in control, is not as high. I knew that I could use the apparatus, but could I be trusted to use common sense and diplomacy?  


     For that, I would have preferred the accompaniment of Peter. Then, of course, I reasoned that I am the lay-historian, with the knowledge that Peter, or Bill, did not posses. I would, going back to the past, be dealing with men of their time. If I were to bring with me people who would be prejudgmental, who then, might know what might occur? Peter might end up with his head on a spike, and Bill, I thought, might end up being a court jester. My musings brought a smile to my face, but of course, none of these things could ever happen.


     Maria gripped my hand, tightly. She gazed into my eyes, speaking softly.


     "Here is your opportunity, Antony. Step into the time machine, set the time and the date, do what you need to do, and I will be here, waiting for you."


     I feel hesitant, I do not know why, but for some reason, I did not want to travel alone. I knew the Saxon period so well, and my Anglo Saxon is okay, or so I thought. I had mastered, at least technically, my old English, mother tongue, but what about the accent? I would have to play much by ear, I thought. It would be too dangerous for Maria to accompany me. The computer's program had not read and analysed her genetic make-up. On this account, the force field would not protect her.


     I explained my fear to her, with regard to the force field, and I saw that she fully understood. I'm ushered by Maria to sit inside the time machine.


     "What date are you going to set the computer for, Antony?"  


     "The date and data that I'm going to program into the into the computer will be: 9:pm on January 3rd 1066. It is the night before King Edward died. Earl Harold will be either returning from his riverside contemplation, or somewhere inside the king's residence, so there should be no problem in searching him out, Maria," I replied, pressing buttons and typing the information need to transport me to the year 1066.


     "How will you approach Earl Harold? You will have to think very quickly, for Harold will wonder if you are some sort of an angel, ghost, or demon at the very least, and he might attack you," she said, looking concerned.


     "I cannot be harmed, Maria. You must also remember that Harold is an astute man. Whatever his feelings; Harold will have no option but to accept that I will be standing before him. Once he has seen that I am real, and that I am, by virtue of the force field, impenetrable, he will listen to what I have to say. He will eventually realise that I can be a powerful ally, a tool, if you like. I'm not sure if I should I tell him that I have travelled from far into the future, though."


     I kissed Maria farewell, and pressed the sequence of buttons that would send me back in time and place me in London, at king Edward's palace on January 3rd  1066.


     Once more, in a flash, I am gone. Less than a moment later, I am in the stable yard belonging to King Edward. I stepped out of the vehicle, into the darkness, only to see the time machine transform itself into a large wooden box. The box held a purple shimmer, ghost-like, yet, in the light of the burning torch on a wall, by the rear entrance to the palace, the box did not look out of place. I opened the box, and stepped back inside. At which point the time machine became as it was before I left. Satisfied that I would recognise the box, and that the force field is switched on and set to recognise, on this occasion, only my genetic signature. I turned on my personal APT and strolled around the stable yard.


     The air is still and cold. I could hear the horses shuffling about in the stable. The smell of musty hay, fresh horse manure, and urine permeated the air.


     "Who are you, sir?" Said an inquiring voice, from the darkness behind me.


     I started, almost to the point of jumping out of my skin. I spun round, and there stood a young boy of about fifteen years of age. He is tall, lithe and muscular, with long, blond, shoulder-length hair. His face is dirty and he looked as though a bath would be in order.

     "I am called Antony." I replied in my best Saxon. I am here to meet with Earl Harold.


     The puzzled look on the boy's face did not hide his brave countenance. He stepped forward, his hand outstretched to touch my glowing purple haze. He stepped back, astonishment written across his face, and he dropped to his knees and bowed his head.


      "Are you an angel?" he asked, fearfully.


     "Something like that," I replied, softly. "You need not be afraid, boy. I am not here to harm you, or anyone. Raise yourself, you are in no danger. What is your name, boy?" I asked, staring at the youth's unusual attire.


     The boy rose to his feet, brushed the straw from his clothing and hair.


     "I am Cedric, Sir. I am one of the king's stable-boys."


     "Really?" I replied.  


     In my story, Tumbling Angels, and, purely by chance, I had actually chosen the correct name for this boy. I wondered if this is pure coincidence or providence.

     Over my shoulder, I heard, in the distance, hooves galloping toward palace. The sound came closer and soon became a canter, until at last I saw a mounted figure enter the courtyard.


     "My Lord," said Cedric, bowing his head respectfully. The boy then took the reins of the rider's horse.


     "I am in no mood for niceties, Cedric. I need to speak with you most urgently," said the rider, dismounting.


     The rider stood about ten feet before me, gazing quizzically at me, ignoring for the moment, Cedric. The man withdrew his sword and approached me, menacingly, then halted, waiting to strike at me, but something stopped his imminent action.


     "I am to presume that I am in the presence of Earl Harold." I asked, gazing directly into the eyes of my historical hero. "I am here to give you assistance, sir."


     I am at last, standing in the presence of a king to be. This tall, ginger headed, moustachioed character, sported a muscular frame of such proportion that would not look out of place in an American wrestling arena. Harold is dressed in a sheepskin jacket, cut to fit precisely this man's figure, yet disorderly. It is obvious that Harold, at some point, had fallen from his horse. His leather hose looked almost twentieth century, a perfect fit, and he wore stout leather riding boots.


     Harold reached out his hand to touch me. He started backward.


     "What are you? Are you are an angel, or a devil? What is your business with me?"


     "Harold," I replied, boldly. "My name is Antony, and I am no devil. I am here to give you assistance in your forthcoming problems. I know there has, this evening, been an attempt on your life by a man named Eumer, a paid assassin in the employ of Duke William. I know, too, what is to happen this evening, that in the early hours, King Edward will pass from this world and into the next. I wish, urgently, to speak with you in privacy. What I have to say will be greatly to your advantage, Harold. Duke William of Normandy and King Harald Sigurdsson are set, shortly to invade these shores. You must be prepared to defeat these threats."


     Harold stepped back, and I saw the astonishment written in his eyes.  


     "You know of the events that have taken place this night, and what is to come?"


     "Yes, Harold Godwinson. I know the future of England, and the problems you must face in the event of invasion, the consequences of defeat are not good for the people of this beloved land of ours. You will become king of England, but unless you follow my lead, your reign will be very short," I informed the great earl.


     Harold's mouth dropped open, and I saw the astonishment upon Harold's face.


     "How do you presume to know theses things?" he asked, looking up and down at my attire. "Your dress is, well...unknown to me. Who is it that dresses you so?" he inquired once more. "Enough! You much intrigue me. Come, follow me," said Harold, beckoning me to follow.


     As we approached the rear entrance to the palace, I saw a giant of a man standing before us. He must have stood seven feet tall and as broad as the door he stood by.


     "Ah, Harold, you took your time; where have you been? We sent the boy, Osfrid, to bring you to us. I trust he had no problem finding you. By us all, you have been sorely missed. We have been in need of your council," said Brithnoth.


     "I had a welcoming party waiting for me, one that I severely disagreed with, and a greeting that I didn't expect. I fear Osfrid has not returned?" Harold replied, gazing intensely at Brithnoth's face.


     "No, I understood he would accompany you, Harold," said Brithnoth, noticing that Harold's clothing is in disarray, when the sad tone in Harold's words fell upon him. "My God, man, you've been ambushed!" Brithnoth's puzzlement is beginning to realise the grim reality that Osfrid would not be returning. He stared at the ground, his expression of guilt is obvious as Harold began to relay his story.


     "Then Osfrid has been mistaken for me." Harold is somewhat distraught for the boy's welfare. "If this is the case, then I fear he will not be returning. Clearly, I rode into a trap, and I nearly did not make it back, because two of my assailants gave me a rough time. They were hired ruffians, but their leader is a professional assassin. My encounter, with these murderers was well planned, Brithnoth. Two of them I dispatched, but the other one got away, you will find their bodies by the fork on the Sandwich Road. We must search that killer out and make it our priority to return the compliment."


     "Assassins, Harold! You go nowhere without a housecarl in future; is that clear?" Brithnoth took Harold's arm in his grip. The earnest look upon Brithnoth's face said more than words.


     "I can look after myself, but good advice for all of that."


     I noticed Harold's expression change to one of a glazed and serious manifestation of thoughtfulness, and I guessed that Harold thoughts must obviously have drifted to Duke William and the duke's vicarious, vengeful attack on his person.  


     "I'll see the bodies are brought in right away. Perhaps we may be able to identify them. If my hunch is correct, they are William's men. It's his favoured tactic, this much I know."


     "I agree, Brithnoth. By and by: this man, who stands with us, has already informed me, as to whom is their master you. They will not be receiving their pay for this night. I want Osfrid found. If he is alive, bring him to me. If he is dead, then see that he has a good burial at my expense. Is that clear, my good friend?"


     "Perfectly clear, Harold. I too, fear for the boy, and I hope and pray by the Lady Mary, that he is alive. You can rely on me to see what is needed to be done is done according to your wishes. By my life, Harold, he is my most promising trainee, and I have high expectations of him," replied Brithnoth.


     The sadness for the missing boy, Osfrid, is self-evident. The two men looked almost distressed, a feeling that for such men must have been almost alien; but I recognised that although their feelings for the boy were such, they both understood that there were more pressing matters forthcoming this night.


     "Brithnoth. I am accompanied by Antony. Do not be alarmed. He is here to assist us and, though I have, just these last few moments, become acquainted with this man. I see that he poses no threat to us. Indeed, we need to listen to his council. We shall both receive him in my chamber."


     Brithnoth stared at my strange clothing, then at me. He reached out to touch my arm, but reeled back at the tingle that he must obviously have felt.  


     "By the strength of Odin's hammer! You glow like an iron in the fire. What are you, man?" exclaimed Brithnoth.


     "Brithnoth, in due course, you shall know all there is to know. We must talk in secret, for there is much you and Earl Harold must learn of the events to come, and most that I am privy to, you will be made aware of. All that I can ask of you is that you must trust me, and I cannot explain my reasons just yet." I said, hoping my Saxon English is not too hard on the big man's ears.


     I followed Harold, with Brithnoth taking the rear, to Harold's private quarters.


     The spacious room, lit in every corner with the glow of fresh, pine-scented candles that threw ghost-like shadows upon the plain oak-panelled walls. I gazed about the room, noticing the simplicity and sparseness of the furniture, contrasted by the sumptuous cushions that lay upon the chairs and chests. I noticed that Harold's bed is a huge oak canopied, four-poster bed, draped with heavy woollen cloth. The large, stone fireplace raged with the warmth of newly stoked logs, whose flames danced and parried, throwing their warm, flickering light around the room.


     Brithnoth closed the door, and I am ushered by Harold to sit before the fire.


     "Antony, I wish you to tell me first where you come from, for your accent is none that I recognise. Your clothes, too, their likeness is nothing that I can recall seeing anywhere on my travels throughout the kingdoms across the seas."


     I took a deep breath, for I knew that at some point, I would have to relate to these two men that I am from another world, far beyond their imagination, far too advanced from them to comprehend.


     "Harold. I am no wizard. Nor am I a witch or demon. I am a man from your beloved country's future. I cannot even ask you to understand the significance of my being here, except to inform you that I have a means of travel that will take you, as a visitor, to my world of the future. The proof of my story can only be persuasive by personal example. In the courtyard, my mode of travel is hidden, ready to relay my person and one other, forward to my time, should you so desire to accompany me."


     Harold's gaze is thoughtful, and I am not sure if he thought me mad or not.


      "Are you telling us, sir, that you have travelled in some sort of chariot from Heaven?" asked Brithnoth, leaning forward and sporting a wry grin.


      "You are not far from the truth, Brithnoth, though I am certainly not from Heaven, nor from hell, either, for that matter. I was born here, in England, the land of the Saxons. My parents, too are English, as were my ancestors before them," I replied, trying not to be discourteous or rude in my reply. "My dearest wish is that England should be safe from the evils of outside powers that would take the crown of England from the English, and see that crown placed upon the head of some foreign prince." I am in a bind. I had no means of communicating my thoughts in such a way as to enable either Harold or Brithnoth to imagine the future, other than what they could ever envisage for themselves, planning their immediate and potential expectations.


     "Harold, I must ask of you this question. Would you be willing to accompany me to the place where I originate? To see our nation's future, many years from now."


     Crossing my legs, I felt my mobile phone in the pocket of my pants. I removed the phone and flipped open the protective lid. A message on the screen read No signal. Pressing a few buttons brought up the menu, and I found what I knew would convince Harold that I am not lying to him.


     "I would like to show you a picture of my wife, Maria," I said, passing the phone to Harold. But Harold declined my offer to take the phone from me and I wondered if he thought better than to risk the tingle to his fingers that obviously had unnerved Brithnoth. I rose to my feet, and stood beside Harold.  


     Harold gazed at the picture of Maria, and my perception is that Harold is noticeably dumbfounded. I produced from the phone, other pictures, and a short video clip of Maria waving and calling 'espérer un Au Revoir' to her son, Garner, as he took his first solo flight in a light aircraft.


     "This is wizardry, Antony!" exclaimed Harold. "This is where you are from?" He continued.  


     I moved to show the images to Brithnoth, and he is clearly impressed.


     Ever the pragmatist, Harold rose to stand beside the fireside, looking thoughtful.


     "I shall accompany you on the journey, Antony," he said, turning to Brithnoth.


     "Brithnoth, how shall we arrange a hostage, in case this should be a Norman trap?" he said.


     "Trap!" I replied, startled. I realised and remembered that this is normal procedure in theses times. I am not sure how I could assist in this respect, but I would try, nonetheless.


     "Harold," I continued, "This is no trap, and I have no hostages to give or exchange. You will have to trust me and my word that your person will not be in any way harmed, or that you, Harold, should be a prisoner. I shall be taking you to the year 2040 Yes, 974 years into the future. You shall be returned to this place better informed and enlightened," I said, generating an air of composed confidence.


     Brithnoth stood up, tall, manly and very powerful, yet clearly disgruntled with my offer to transport Harold to another place.


     "Surely, Harold, you are not going to believe this man. This preposterous idea of travelling to the future in some sort of hidden chariot is madness. What is more, you're going without a hostage, too!"


      "I understand your concerns, Brithnoth," I said. "If you are afraid that I am to kidnap or harm Earl Harold in any form, then, please, accompany me yourself. Upon your return, you might report to Harold that you are safe, and satisfied that there is no danger in his travelling with me."


     "I am afraid of nothing nor anyone. But to travel with someone that you have no background knowledge of." he said, resuming his seat, glaring at Harold.


     "You have seen for yourself, Brithnoth, the wondrous images that Antony has shown us. I am curious as to Antony's motives, but I see he is not evil, nor is he showing signs of deviousness or hostility. If we do not wish to follow him, then he must return from whence he came. Antony has no weapon about him, so we are in no danger from this man. I am not afraid to accompany him on a journey."


     "Then would you allow me to show you my chariot, Harold?"


     Harold smiled, nodding approvingly.


     "Lead the way to your hidden means of transport."

In the stable yard, the box looked just like a normal wooden box.


     I lifted the lid to the box, and the box returned to its normal appearance, a twentieth century vehicle. Harold jumped back, astonished.  


     "What wizardry is this?!


     "There is no wizardry, Harold, it science." The word science is not in the Saxon vocabulary. Harold is clearly mystified, but not afraid. I then closed the lit and allowed Harold to open the lid. Harold opened the box to reveal an empty container. I am satisfied that the time machine is performing very well, disguising, and protecting itself.


      Both Harold and Brithnoth started backward. The shock, written upon their faces, is self-evident.


     "Please. I understand your alarm. This is my chariot, a time machine. The device I use to travel here and back again to my home." I said, trying to ally their astonishment. Then I realised I had said something really dumb. First off, they had not a clue about what time machine is, and they had no idea what the word machine meant. Then of course, I had to explain what on earth a chariot is, but I knew Harold might have seen one before, so I went for the explanation. The whole didn't look much like a chariot, but I swallowed deeply, hoping they might catch on.


     "The devil is in this, Harold!" exclaimed Brithnoth, moving to take hold of my arm. He withdrew, when he once more felt the tingle run through his hand and up his arm, and the cold, iron-like, force field that protected me.


     "I cannot be harmed, Brithnoth. One day, you, too, can have the power that I posses." I winked at Brithnoth and smiled. "Please be seated inside the chariot, Harold. I assure you, you are completely safe." I offered, as I reopened the box to reveal the seats inside. Harold did as I asked and he entered the vehicle, sitting rather uncomfortably in his sheepskin jacket.


     I detected an excitement about him, even as he looked about at the brightly lit dials and flashing lights, he tried to hide his apprehension as to what would come next.


     "This chariot has no horse to draw it to its destination, Antony. How does it move?"  


     "I will explain its means, but you will not understand, Harold." I closed the Perspex canopy and set the time machine to send me back home to Maria. In a flash, were gone from the stable yard and, in an instant, we we now back in the laboratory.


     Harold sat impassively throughout our momentary journey. He looked through the Perspex and into the laboratory to see standing before him a beautiful woman.


     "When we return to your time, Harold, Brithnoth would have just enough time to blink an eye. To him, you will have been gone but that long," I said as I lifted the canopy.


     Maria stepped forward. She gave me a kiss and a strong hug.


     "I am never going to get used to seeing you disappear and reappearing again in a moment, Antony," she said, as she gazed at Earl Harold.


     "Harold will not understand you, Maria. He speaks in the old Saxon tongue."


     "What manner of speech is this?" exclaimed Harold.


     Returning to the use of old Anglo-Saxon, I tried to explain that I spoke modern English to Maria. I reminded Harold that we had journeyed to the future and that language evolves, changes with time, is not easy. I thanked the heavens above, that when I did my research in to Saxon England, I thought to learn Saxon as best I could. Reading Saxon manuscripts is not easy, for mostly they were written in Latin, and, often in a Latin shorthand, and this is where I needed help from the university academicians. One is often jumping from Saxon to Latin text. The language learning curve had been steep, make no error in thinking it is easy, for it is not.


     I mused that Harold must have thought this but a dream. Then, the thought struck me, that, Harold liked women. He is a great and powerful man. He could take any woman he liked, and, I had not protected Maria with a force-field! I relaxed with the thought that he thought we both might be protected in the same way, and hoped that he did not notice she had no purple glow, as did I, and that this glow is associated with our protection.


     Harold obviously did his best to acclimatise in those first few moments. He gazed at the strip-lights and stood in awe at all he saw before him. He strode over to look at a television that is receiving pictures of a man drilling a hole in a wall using an electric drilling machine. He touched the screen and started backward.


     "You keep dwarf slaves in that box?"


     "No, they are pictures of people, transmitted to the viewing box. We call the device a television, Harold. We are the only souls in this room," I replied.


     Maria stepped forward and offered Harold a cookie from her plate. Harold took one and copied Maria as she ate one herself. I could see that he liked the unusual taste, and he took another, smiling at Maria. He is, obviously, delighted.


     "Ic Þancie Þe, werman (I thank you woman)," said Harold, with a smile.


     "Ic Þancie Þe, Maria," Maria replied, correcting Harold, light-heartedly.


     They both laughed, as Harold took yet another of Maria's cookies.


     You have a good woman, Antony." I smiled appreciatively.


     I invited Harold to follow me to the main part of our house, where I showed him around the living and sleeping quarters. I tried to explain the usage of the bathroom and toilets, but modesty precluded me from being too graphic, yet I gathered that Harold got the general idea. From there, we viewed the exterior of the house, and lastly, the grounds.  


     An RAF fighter plane roared overhead, and I saw Harold duck. The astonishment clearly written upon Harold's face made me break out into a smile. I could tell from Harold's expressive demeanour, it is obvious to me that there must be many questions he wanted to ask of me, but is far too much for him to take in.  


     I steered Harold to where my car is, parked on the driveway, waiting for me to take him for a drive. The day is very warm, and I offered to take Harold's coat, as I could see that he is very heated from wearing it. I opened the trunk and placed Harold's coat inside. I opened the door and invited him to take a seat, explaining as I did so, that we had no need for equine enhancement. I fastened Harold's seat-belt, and entered the vehicle to sit in the driver’ seat, belted up and started the engine. I guess that something told Harold to hold on tight, for before I drove off, Harold, perhaps from natural instinct, had gripped the bucket seat tightly, with both hands.


     I had not noticed before this moment, but Harold had an odour: it is not particularly offensive, but one of untreated underarm sweat. I mused that he and everyone around him were just the same as he, and obviously, others did not notice the odour.  


     As I drove down the freeway, travelling at a leisurely seventy-five miles an hour, I noticed that though this is a speed that Harold had never attained or experienced before, he nevertheless, had relaxed his grip on the seat. I perceived his amazement as cars passed in the opposite carriageway, but Harold said nothing, he sat passively.


     We rounded a corner and came in sight of the small, private airfield, where small aircraft took skydivers, daily to dispatch them and fly on, as the parachutists performed aerial manoeuvres before reaching the ground. As we turned into the parking lot, luck is with us. A plane, is being boarded buy skydiving enthusiasts, is readying for take off. Moments later the plane rushed down the runway and flew into the air.  


     Harold stood with his mouth agape, as minutes later, after watching the plane circle and gain height. When at last, directly overhead, bodies threw themselves out of the aircraft, only moments later to deploy and unfurl their parachutes and float toward a cross, laid out upon the ground.


     Turning to face me, Harold looked straight into my eyes.  


      "I know that this is no dream, Antony. I am convinced that this amazing time to which you have brought me is real. You said that you came to assist me in defeating the threats to England. Do you have writings to prove that England has suffered defeat?" He turned to gaze quizzically into my eyes. My eyes smiled back to him.  


     "Indeed I do, Harold. I wish to show you the chronicles, and the books written by your sister, after your defeat at Hastings."


     "Defeat! What do you mean, defeat?"


     I realized that I had made a grave error in mentioning Hastings, but the words I had spoken were gone to the wind, and it is too late. Harold now knew that he is to lose the ultimate fight for his beloved England.


     "How could I lose a battle, Antony? I have all the resources of England at my disposal. The finest warriors in the Christian world are under my command, and they love me as I do them," replied Harold, with a confused look.


     "As I said before I have copies of your sisters book, telling how Duke William defeated your depleted force on Senlac hill. I can tell this much, Harold. The battle was a close run thing."


     "Depleted force? What do you mean, depleted force?" inquired Harold, earnestly.


     I told Harold of the invasion in the north by Harald Sigurdsson, and of the Danish king's ignominious defeat at the hands of Harold's fine Saxon army. Of how his brother, Tostig died when he fell in battle, fighting with Sigurdsson. I explained, too, of the long march south, and the loss of so many of his finest warriors that ultimately led to Harold's losing England to the Normans.


     Harold sat, dumbfounded. For a few minutes, he said nothing.


     "If what you tell me has already happened, Antony, then what help, if any, can you be to England?"  


     I had not given any thought to how I could help Harold or England. I am out of ideas as to what help I could give to him, other than the information I had already imparted.


     As we drove back to the house, we had to follow a slow-moving tractor. I drove past a cottage that flew the cross of St George. In the garden stood a wooden cross with a wreath attached to cross. 'In Remembrance of Fallen Comrades June 14th 1982,' read the banner draped over the wreath. I pulled the car over and became thoughtful. I remembered the war so well. That is when the thought came to me.


     "I might, Harold, have a plan to physically help you defeat Duke William," I said, sporting a wry smile. "Harold I'm going to return you to your time. I will revisit you very soon with the equipment necessary to arm you and your forces that will enable you to utterly annihilate the duke's forces."


     As we drove into the courtyard of my home, I turned my gaze at Harold, who sat passively, looking thoughtful, bemused, even.



     I decide I needed a shower, and invited Harold to shower with me. Our refreshingly hot shower made us both feel gloriously clean and refreshed. Maria had dry cleaned Harold's smelly clothes, and, provided him with vests, T-shirts, underpants and socks. I doubt I had ever seen a man so pleased with his cleanliness. He smelled his cleaned garments, looked impressed and donned his newly acquired underpants socks and a T-shirt. In the hall is a box, containing brand new pair of wide size 13 walking boots. Maria passed Harold the boots, and indicated to him he should put them on. Never before have a seen a such a smile on any human being before.


     It is time to eat. Harold entered the dining room and I'm amazed at how the oak tables gloss. He could see his face reflected back, but before he could comment, Maria had laid the tale and produced a wonderful road lamb, with cauliflower, roast potatoes and peas, with other trimmings on the side. Harold followed our lead and ate as we ate, copying our eating motions with a knife and fork. A glass of wine to wash down a wonderful meal left Harold most satisfied with his visit.


     In the laboratory, Maria printed out a picture, and I gave Harold a photograph of the three of us, taken after Harold and I had arrived back home, standing outside our house that she had taken with her remote controlled camera. Maria handed Harold a bag that contained, amongst other things, safety razors, and a can of shaving cream.


     "There are some cookies, too," she said, looking for me to translate her words.


     Maria hugged Harold and kissed his check, and Harold returned the compliment.


      Moments later, Harold, and I were sitting in the time machine. Harold, with a wave of his hand, bid Maria farewell. I set the coordinates into the time machine, and in a flash, we were back in the courtyard of King Edward in the year1066.


     We made our exit from the time machine, and standing before us stood Brithnoth.


     "What in the name of Odin's hammer happened, Harold?" asked Brithnoth, "One moment you were here, then the next moment you disappeared, then reappeared again! This is all too confusing," he continued, sporting a confused look.


      "My dear friend," said Harold, placing an arm on Brithnoth's shoulder. "I have seen wondrous things! Such marvellous sights that would make you- well, words could not adequately describe what I have seen. Antony is, indeed, our friend, and you shall look upon him as your friend, too," replied Harold.


      I'm in a fervour to get back and make my plans to gain the weapons that I thought Harold would find useful. I knew now what I had to do, but how I am to accomplish my task? I'm note sure, but one thing I am sure of, is that I needed help and professional help, too.


     "Harold, Brithnoth. I need to organise the equipment and the people I require to help you in your forthcoming venture. Your forces will need special training in the use of the devices that I will furnish them. First, I need to bring with me some people who understand the weapons and equipment you will have at your disposal. I'm not sure if the men I wish to speak with will agree to accompany me here, as they might feel that I should leave England to its fate. Nonetheless, I promise to return very soon. Goodbye, Harold. Goodbye to you, too, Brithnoth," I said as I re-entered the time machine.


     "I will look forward to our next meeting, Antony," said Harold, waving.



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