I was sitting under a blackthorn tree watching the rest of the children play. I've never included myself in their games. This was, for the most part, of my own choice, never understanding why they would laugh at me. A shadow appeared over me.
"Hey, runt." Well, that wasn't very fair, seeing as how this boy was at least a year older than me. "What're you doing?" he grunted.
"Sitting." I learned long ago not to say more than necessary. Though...
"How 'bout you come and join our game?"
"No." I had also learned these 'games' had little to do with playing. They often involved me getting more cuts and bruises.
"You want to re--" A commotion came from the street. I knew the sound. It was a riot. Riots had plagued my early years at the orphanage and had continued, though in less strength, into the present. Hm, 'plagued' that was unfortunate wording. I glanced through the fence.
Men were gathered outside the doors of the church that was connected to Cripplegate Orphanage. They had weapons. That was never a good sign.
The older boy stared for a few more seconds, then darted inside the building. I stayed outside. Riots, no matter how dangerous they were, are always interesting to watch. If nothing else, they gave me idea of out current political landscape.
“Down with the king! Down with the king!” The shouting had finally carried over to my spot under the tree. They wanted Charles II off the throne. In my experience these never went well. There was the clattering of feet as the King’s Men arrived.
“Who do you serve?” the leader of the King’s Men shouted.
“King Jesus!” the rioters replied. That was new. Dissenters of the church usually tried to stay quiet for fear of persecution.
“Christopher.” I felt a hand on my arm, one of the priests was there.
“Come inside.” Reluctantly I followed.
Once in the building, I glanced out the window. The King’s Men and the rioters were fighting, guns going off and swords clashing. Riots were nothing new, neither was the fighting, but I had never been this close to one before. I hurried to catch up to the group.
The fighting continued outside for two days. I was almost thankful. Staying inside meant that the older, larger boys couldn’t pick on me. Once the riots ended, we were able to go out into the yard again, and the priests cracked down on religious studies. Probably to make us more compliant.