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October 25, 2014
6:12am EDT

Rated: ASR | Short Story | Contest | #1283126
Winner of the 6/28 Writers Cramp: second-hand tools for a first-hand heart!
I shall tell you the tale of The Scullery Squire!

The Squire was a lad who worked in the kitchens of the great town hall - a lowly fellow, thin and wiry, ignored by most men. He yearned for the daughter of the mayor, a pretty maid who was wooed by all the burly young men. One day, he learned of a grand tournament to be held the next month, in which, to his surprise, there would be a ball for the whole town, and the winners of the tournament would be invited to attend - along with the mayor's daughter!

And on that moment, he resolved to win the tourney.

The lad’s already-strong arms, muscled from the work in the kitchens, he built up further; he would tilt against the trees in back of the hall with broomsticks, quickening his reflexes; and he used his meager pennies to purchase leather and metal, to make for himself armor. He would listen to the old warriors in the hall, telling tales of battles gone by, and ask of them questions of combat. He borrowed what he did not have, and made due with what he did.

His sparring with the trees made for wry humor in the tavern, but one among them did not laugh as loudly. Old Sir Olaf Greybeard, the wiliest of them all, watched the scullery lad and one day, before the tourney, he approached the lad as he was practicing against the trees.

“You’ll need this, one day”, was all Sir Olaf said, as he held out an old hand-me-down sword in a battered sheath.

And then, the day of the tourney arrived at last!

The lists were filled with burly lads, stout men, and old greybeard wily warriors - and the scullery lad, who gave a good account of himself, winning more than losing, advancing slowly up the lists. Several times, he was soundly thrashed by the burly lads who mocked him as he lay. But he kept on getting up, and trying harder each time.

And then, came the final fateful round. There they were, the six last and best: five tough warriors - three lads, two greybeards - and the scullery lad, who won all the way through the press of foes. His tilting the trees had given his arm the strength to survive, and his asking of the old warriors gave him tricks to play. Straight at his opponents, the lad flew! He would not be denied his chance to meet the mayor's daughter!

But the dust fell upon his flattened helm, his bent shield, and his beaten pride, as he lay in the dust. No one helped him to his feet as he struggled to leave the list field. For one of the burly lads claimed his prize, that day.

That night, as the ball began, the scullery lad sat on the steps, musing on his bruises and his defeat and his thoughts were interrupted, by the voice of the knight, Olaf Greybeard, who had also been in the tourney.

"Why so glum, lad?" the knight asked. "Let me tell you, I and others watched you out there this day. You gave when you got, and you were standing when others bigger than you, were wallowing in the dirt with the dogs."

Olaf held his hand out to the sitting scullery lad, saying, "Anyone who stands up to those odds, and never gave up, well, that's the man I want for my squire! What say you, lad?"

The scullery lad could not believe his ears! He knelt to the old knight - his knight,
now - "I shall be your man in all things, milord!' said he.

And to his delight, the scullery squire found himself clothed, and invited to the ball, as the knight's squire! And upon the foyer of the hall, stood the mayor and his daughter, receiving the guests with greetings, and they were introduced as Knight and Squire, and the mayor's daughter smiled at him in greeting.

"Greetings, Squire”, the mayor’s daughter said, “I watched you on the field, so brave and determined you were!" She was smiling - she had noticed him!

And now, you notice the tale has a meaning to it: that Bold Deeds do not need to be successful or legendary, they simply have to be Bold Deeds, done with Bold Heart.

© Copyright 2007 The Knight Has Found Romance (UN: theknight at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
The Knight Has Found Romance has granted Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.
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