(Photo by Samuel Zeller: https://unsplash.com/@samuelzeller?utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=photographer-credit&utm_content=creditBadge)
Thomas Slowey – the owner and proprietor of the Eagle and Child – pocketed the ten-pound note from William Stephenson and ushered the rest of the afternoon’s customers out the door, while Jack and Ronald shepherded the eclectic troop into the Rabbit Room, which became quite crowded. Jack took up a position near the hearth and was joined immediately by Tecumseh, who gave Jack a look that he could sit down. Jack thought to himself that if ever a man could command with a look this man was him and proceeded to sit down on a stool right near the ash can.
Tecumseh looked at the faces gathered before him; William Stephenson, Margaret Carter, Joan of Arc, Sherlock Holmes, George Edward Challenger, John Ronald Reuel Tolkein, Owen Barfield, Hugo Dyson, Clark Savage, Jr., and Bass Reeves. Tecumseh’s gaze fell upon the questioning look of Thomas Slowey and said, “Thank you, Mr. Slowey, for making your establishment available for our impromptu meeting. I am sure that we will be taking advantage of your excellent selection of refreshments after we conclude our business.”
Mr. Slowey – fingering the ten-pound note in his pocket – smiled and left the room, as the prospect of more business settled into his understanding.
Tecumseh looked around the room for a moment and then said, “My name is Tecumseh. And, yes that means I’m pretty old. I was born sometime in the late 1700’s and history says that I died in battle during the Battle of the Thames. Well, I can assure you that those reports are false. As here I stand before you. However, the fact that I live today is not that remarkable. How this came about is. And, if I can get the story told before Fred shows up and steals your attention, that will be a bonafide miracle”.
Tecumseh looked around the room to see if the Angel had somehow found a way to enter the room without being noticed. Seeing that he hadn’t he began to tell his story. “I was indeed mortally wounded at the Battle of the Thames and thought I was done for. But, as I began to drift off into death I saw a great light and there were a number of women” Joan of Arc jumped from the seat she had been given by Sherlock and gasped, ”This too happened to me! When I saw the Virgin Mary!” …” dressed in ancient clothes who quickly picked me up from the ground and as quickly as they appeared I found myself in a room carved out of rock, and the women began to work on my wounds.
I spent many months recuperating in the Fortress of Lyonesse, as it is called, being tended to by who many of you might call the “Lady of the Lake”. Who is actually none other than Mary the Mother of Jesus…” Tecumseh looked at the young French girl and smiled. “Yes, young one, she is most definitely alive and involved in the affairs of us all. Indeed that is why she has gathered us all here!”
“But, to continue my story.” Tecumseh started. “I have been alive engaged in the business of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. And, now you all have become my new assignment.”
Tecumseh looked around the room as if to give a moment for questions, but only one hand rose. That was the hand of Professor Tolkein who was hovering – with Jack, Dyson, and Barfield – over the book Fred had given to Jack. And, without looking up Ronald pointed to the character list in the book and asked. “Everyone on the list is here except one. Are we expecting The Summer King to just appear as our recently resurrected – and favorite…I might add – characters did? Or, are we missing something here? Is this “Fred” going to bring him into the room? I am afraid Mr. Tecumseh, you have not solved anything with the story of your salvation from the hands of the American Military. You have merely raised the curiosity of a group of professors that demand answers to questions much more difficult every day from our students.” Ronald stood as he was talking and held the book out towards Tecumseh. “It says here that King Arthur…or Artur as it is written…should be one of our group. That seems to imply that we are at that stage of history where his services as King are needed…if not destined!”
The Inklings were all now shaking their heads in agreement, Savage, Holmes, and Challenger also shook their heads in agreement as each of them had intellects matching the four Inklings. It seems that Fred and Tecumseh had collected some of the most imaginative and decisive minds for the assignment.
“Yes, well that is the sticky wicket as you Brits like to say.” Tecumseh walked over to Ronald and asked, “Can I have this for a moment, Professor? I promise to give it back.” He proceeded to thumb through the first few pages of the book and there on the pages – as he turned each page – the words appeared describing exactly how everything was happening. Down to each jot and tittle.
Tecumseh turned the book towards the assemblage as if turning the pages – as would a teacher in Kindergarten – of an illustrated edition of “The Sword in the Stone”, he showed them all the words appearing on the page as he spoke. “It seems that the book is doing its job. Now it seems it’s time for the author of the book to do his job. And, that is to write where we are going next. And, if I may give a bit of a clue, shouldn’t really be as hard as you are all imagining.” And, he handed the book to a rather perplexed Jack Lewis.
“But, how in blazes am I supposed to write in the book that which I have absolutely no clue about how to accomplish!” Jack stood and held the book out to Tecumseh and watched in frustration as the words, “…absolutely no clue how to accomplish!” appeared in golden script on the pages. Jack felt he was on a roll and continued, “And, what about these other names? Himmler? Kahn and Cady? Macbeth? It seems that not only do we have modern authors imaginations strolling the streets of Oxford. But, now Shakespeare? Nothing like having two ancient Kings competing for our attention. Can you imagine the conflict between Kings Arthur and Macbeth? What in all of God’s good Grace was…whomever has us gathered here…thinking?”
George Edward Challenger – disgusted with Jack’s small tirade – stood up and tore the book from Jack’s hands and poking his prodigious nose to within inches of Jack’s face he challenged him, “Mr. Professor big brain Lewis, I suggest you grab a handful of courage and do what ya do best. You take ideas out of thin air and set them to pages, correct?”
Jack stepped back carefully to get some distance from the giant dwarfish man, “Yes!?” He stammered.
“Oh come on Man!” Challenger continued to push into Jack’s space and even poked him in the chest. “How would you respond to one of your own students if they answered you with such a milque-toast answer!? I may be the living resurrection of someone’s imagination. But, I’m enough of a man…now…to understand that we each have a role to play here. And, you, my over pampered academical daydreamers, don’t seem to be grasping that!” Challenger took the book and poked his finger on the next blank page. (right after the words”…seem to be grasping that.”)”Well, if you were to write a book about how and where the legendary King Arthur was to appear? Where in the Bloody Hell would your over-rated imaginations say that WAS!?” With that Challenger shoved the book into Jack’s chest and – adjusting his great coat with a Harrumph –sat back down next to Sherlock and Savage, who were both looking with horror at the bullying tactics of their compatriot.
A moment of silence resulted as each gathered their courage to say anything.
“Yes, well, I would like to express the Prime Minister’s concerns…” William Stephenson stood up as if to address the group. But, before he could begin there was a scuffle at the door as Mr. Slowey was attempting to guard the door against another very large individual, and soon the individual walked into the room with Mr. Slowey’s arms pinned to his side and his feet a good foot above the ground. The man walked into the room, then turned and set Mr. Slowey down as if he were shutting a door in the room.
Tecumseh spoke up. “This is why I said that I didn’t think you needed to worry. Ladies and Gents! Let me introduce you to The Summer King, the one the only, eternal King of England, King Arthur Mac Aedan!”
Arthur walked over to Tecumseh and stood with his back to the group and gave Tecumseh gentle punch to the shoulder. “Thanks for the introduction my friend! What do we got going this time?” He said as he turned to the group.
Arthur was large if not larger than Doc, and much bulkier. But, it was the face that caught everyone’s attention. His face was square and strong with perfectly proportioned features framed by a perfectly trimmed gray beard, and his very long hair was braided and fell across his right shoulder. He wore innocuous black dungarees and a Canadian Pendleton shirt tucked into an intricately worked leather belt covered with Celtic symbols. On his feet were top of the line combat boots – that William Stephenson recognized as the boots they had been handing out to his operatives. On the right side of his belt he carried a holstered M1911 .45 pistol with red scrimshaw grips, and on the left a Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife.
Arthur put his lumberjack sized arms over Tecumseh’s shoulders and asked with a grin, “I’m starved! Anyone ready for dinner…a Pint? I’m buyin’?