- Most of the villagers, who had been watching Bruce with mistrust, told Cyrus that Bruce had no arrows. They had no reason to lie; they didn't like Bruce either.
- Cyrus initially told his family that he was going to attack Bruce because he feared for his own life. After defeating Bruce, Cyrus went looking through his tent to find the arrows as proof of intent; when he found none, he muttered quite a bit about how Bruce must have been an idiot, or hidden his arrows really well, or something. Then he just stopped talking about his original reason and instead said "Look, I have freed these men! Bruce needed to be killed anyway."
Now, do you wonder why the villagers think less of Cyrus? Do you understand that Cyrus didn't do "the right thing" except by accident? He had the chance to do the right thing for a long time, but it took personal danger before he would do anything. True, nobody else did anything either. Everyone's just as guilty about that. But to claim to be a hero for "taking a risk" only when he thought himself in danger? That's not heroic. That is, in fact, purely selfish.
Do we have a duty to intervene when "inalienable rights" are being violated? Sure. Why not. But does that have anything to do with the question of how we react to being wrong? Does it have anything to do with trying to cover up our reasoning to make ourselves look good? And when those who are oppressed, rather than asking for help directly, try to convince us to act out of fear, how should we feel about them? Or perhaps they only did so because we ignored their honest pleas?
Maybe we should also add the following:
- The villagers do in fact have law, and are each responsible for enforcing it. Each man for himself. That law states that you don't attack another man unless you are provoked; Cyrus was not attacked, he was in no immediate danger. Granted, by the time he was, it might have been too late, but he also acted too soon, according to the law. No man had ever been determined to have the right to strike first under the assumption of intent. It had simply never come up before. The other villagers were willing to get together to discuss the situation, maybe even confront Bruce. Had Bruce done anything, they might even have joined with Cyrus (or even not) and done something about it. But we won't know, will we -- Cyrus acted and "took care of the (his) problem."
- Cyrus is cynical and refuses to consult with the "old men" of the village, thinking them weak and stupid. When they ask for help, he ignores them as long as he can, then acts the hero when things get out of hand. When he feels threatened, he is offended that they don't obey him. In fact, he's asked that he be immune from the judgement of the court that the villagers are creating. He constantly complains that they can't agree on anything, but is himself a part of the problem, always storming out of meetings when they don't go his way. He is the village hero, above the law, beyond reproach, too proud to admit his own faults, and certainly above ever cooperating with anybody for anything. Cyrus is a classic cartoon hero. Now if only that were a good thing...
Cyrus isn't a bad man. He means well. He even stays up late at night asking himself if he's done the right thing. But he's still young, still proud, and it saddens him to think he might have done wrong. He certainly doesn't want anyone to know about his second-thoughts, and if he can manage it, he'll simply bury the whole affair and try to forget about it. Maybe, in time, the villagers will forget too, and he can learn from his mistakes and become a nobler man. An honest, good, but not faultless man.
Have we taken the story far enough? Is the equine thoroughly dead now?