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The nature of Heroes

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Merlin waited.


Arthur would come when his people needed him.


There were times when Merlin was sure that Arthur would come.


The Armada – that was a possible- but the wind blew and the danger passed and Arthur did not come.


Napoleon – he was a treat and Merlin was ready – but there was no Arthur.


But when Britain went to war in 1939 Merlin knew that Arthur was there. He waited.


The Battle of Britain.


Merlin was sure that Arthur was in the RAF. – “The Few” He looked for him in the dog fights of the south of England, searched for him in the flying formations but he could not find him.


He looked in SOE, searched through those who fought in secret but though he felt he was close he could not find him.


Merlin then turned to the sea – to those who kept Britain fed and supplied – Arthur would know the importance of that - but Merlin could not find him amongst those who fought the sea and the weather as much as the U-Boats.


At D-Day, Merlin was sure Arthur was in the first rank, rushing off a landing craft – braving the sea and the bullets – but Arthur was not there.


The war ended and Merlin was despondent. He knew Arthur was there but he could not find him in all the most heroic places. He had searched every battle, every hero – but no where he find his prince.


Time went on.


Merlin grieved.


And all the time Arthur worked away at a small country estate cycling his bicycle (with the wonky chain) to a house and related huts where the messages of the Third Reich were deciphered and sent on to be used. His work saved convoys from attacks by U-boats, gave generals forewarning of what forces they would meet, provided the secret information that made the victory possible.


And when it was over he went on to work on computing machines – and even thought about the possibility of a thinking machine – he believed it was possible. He even worked out a test to find if you were talking to a machine or a person.


And all the time he was haunted by the ghost of a memory of a young man, dark- haired and blue eyed and full of gangly energy.


And that was his weakness. One such man, (who was not Merlin –none of them were) was a thief, and, trusting to the law that was always to the fore in his mind, he reported it.


To find himself the criminal.


Merlin knew.


Ten years after he had searched the beaches of Normandy for his hero, he felt Arthur’s death.


He never found out who he had been.