The Black Rag. Loyalty Personified.

Several years ago, I came across a fantasy novel. Part of it described ongoing wars and tumultuous times between the Great Houses of an empire. This empire was steeped in traditions and dysfunctional practices which served the ruling elite and no one else. In the novel, a faithful warrior, even in his early years a personification of loyalty, is condemned to die because he had committed a trespass while saving the life of the young heiress to a Great House. According to prevailing rules and traditions, he had to be executed even though he had been loyal and true all his life, and had, in fact, seen the young heiress grow up since her infancy. He would not have given a second thought to flinging his life to the ground for the young heiress’ sake. Yet, here he was, condemned to die because he had breached some ill-begotten convention while saving her life.

Black Beanie


The young heiress, recently bereft of her father and brothers by acts of treachery by other Great Houses on a distant battleground, quickly pulled her wits together and saved her faithful warrior by commanding that he was indeed to be executed, but that his execution was to be stayed indefinitely because he was still of great service to her. To this effect, that faithful servant had to live until his appointed execution with a black rag tied about his head as a public sign that he was a condemned man. He was on Death’s Row, so to speak, but still in the employ of the heiress, now Mistress, of the Great House. The faithful warrior had been more than prepared to face death, accepting the customs of his nation, but now that he had been delivered from an utterly unjust execution, he wore the black rag of condemnation, not with shame, but with immense pride!

Are there people in your organization or in your employ who are willing to wear the black rag for you? How about you, do you have someone for whom you would be willing to wear the black rag yourself? Like mercy, the quality of loyalty is not strained, but freely given. Do you know it?

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