Daaskmere Monk

William of Meadowsford

Book Cover

arrowShawn Postoff

Copyright © 1997 - 2009
arrowInfinitive Ink Limited


XIV ill title Robert's Choice

In rising the morrow, a bright, sunny day,
My spirit was freshened, made lively and gay.
We broke-fast on berries, some water and bread,
The horses were saddled and daily words said.
And then we made leave from that tall-pointed arch,
To further resume our long pilgrimage march.

A fortnight did pass with events in the least.
Our travels were peaceful as still we rode East.
The weather was clear and the sunshine was warm,
The countryside greenly was making transform.
And then the monotonous trodding was broke
One morning just after from sleep we’d awoke.
A trumpeting herald came riding our way
With joyous good tidings to fully convey.
The many who’d wondered at hearing his call,
Now looked to his stature that saddled him tall.
His garments bore brilliant the Royal-made crest,
In gold and in green was it sewn at his chest,
Depicting a lion within the bold shield,
That wore it a crown and emblazoned its field.
“I come as the Herald of Andrew the King,
Whose Royal Decree I’m commanded to sing.
As many must know, the good Turin House Court,
Does travel ahead to infuse with import
The meaning of that which we strive to attain.
And following always His Majesty’s reign,
Who hopes to keep active his subjects and friends,
The following tourney King Andrew intends:
That in the fresh morning two sunrises hence,
Above the white rapids the river invents,
Upon the north shore of the Umbrian stream,
‘Tis there that the King will a champion deem.
Events will consist of a series of jousts,
So fought, not by knights, but their squires and scouts.
Each house will send only its best-chosen boy
To joust for the title to singly enjoy.
The prize is the chance to be called to His side,
And carry the shield of the King while he ride.
‘Tis squires of name now invited to sport,
And chance upon coming a member of court.
The honour will last ‘til the Dragon is done,
And then at the hand of the King will the one
Be dubbed him a knight and be granted own Arms,
To fly his own standards and raise those alarms!”
Then rolling his parchment and reining his horse,
He guided a furlong back west down the course
To trumpet his happy announcement again,
And fully enlist from the squires of men.

Sir Robert looked ‘round at his menie all there,
And bade him with Wimstayme a conference affair.
They spoke for a time and came everyone hushed,
Then fin’ly they parted and heartbeats were rushed.
“Those squires,” said Robert, “who serve this good House,
Deserve them not one to have fires made douse.
For truly I know that the flames in your hearts
Are made of the substance that knighthood imparts.
I’m pained at the prospect to choose only one,
For he who is chosen, the others may shun.
And if it was so that you all burned the same,
The choice I would make when I called out a name
Would chill fifteen embers so one could emblaze,
And have fifteen squires lose heart at my ways.
But all must remember that each is his own.
Your values burn diff’rently as you’ve come grown.
So rather than choose the most fiery head,
My method leans more to the other instead.
For this I believe: that the squire I pick,
Must fight to have flames full restored to his wick.
And so, in my choice, I choose not the best lance,
But rather the one who will learn from the chance:
Brave William,” he called me from where I’d slept spot,
“Exchanges from Richmond have not been forgot.
I call your name first with an offer to fight.
Bring heat to your heart and enkindle it bright!”

The off’ring surprised me and tipped me off guard,
For lately I’d come to believe I was barred
From public events of such stature and stake.
I wondered if Robert had made a mistake.
‘Twas deep from my mind doubts familiar arose:
That reveling tourneys preferred only those
Whose looks won from God had been firmly achieved
To match what the tapestry images weav’d.

“Good William?” asked Robert when moments had passed.
“While others would cheer you but stand there aghast.
A fine opportunity makes itself known,
To take it gives talent a chance to be shown.
So answer me promptly and speak from within,
‘Tis from your response preparations begin.”

From weak hesitation did boldness emerge,
It strengthened my heart and felt blood through me surge.
Rebellious desire appealed to my mind
To prove that the arras was groundless and blind.
“My master,” I answered, “I’d never have thought,
To be the one chosen when warrior was sought.
And tho’ I have questioned my worth and fit form,
My soul reassures me with messages warm,
That if I have you, my Lord, speaking my name,
Your faith in my skill shall but strengthen my game.
I’m honoured that ‘twas but to me your faith leapt.
Sir Robert, I, William, your offer accept.”

And so were two pages assigned to my side,
Whose service was modeled on that I’d provide
If I were attending Sir Robert’s demands.
But now it was I who would issue commands.
My absence gave cause for the duties to shift,
For with my departure there opened a rift.
So Duncan to Squire of Body was called,
And Honours replacement was likewise installed.
Such festive good-byes all the well-wishers sent,
As I, with my pages upriver then went.
We followed the Umbrian ‘long her north shore,
Departing from numbers I’d ne’er seen before.
At nightfall we rested on freshwater banks,
Then woke the next morn and for sunlight gave thanks.
I mounted my stallion and pushed we ahead,
E’er nearing the place of which Herald had read.
Then fin’ly the rapids did rage at our side,
And squinting through distance we eagerly spied
The colourful tents of the tournament’s field,
Whose surface would win one and others would yield.

There’d already come o’er two hundred young heads,
Emblazoned with azures and silvers and reds.
They marked in their service the House where they trained,
Whose masters, as mentors, would honour see gained,
If hopeful young squires did triumph in test,
And prove that their training and master was best.

By noon we’d found station at tourney’s main tent,
And into its shelter I eagerly went.
A scribe o’er his parchment sat ready at hand,
And left of his chair a King’s knight made his stand.
“Say who,” came the scribe, “that you here represent.”
Then down to his listing his eyesight was bent.

“From Robert of Meadowsford have I been sent,”
I answered him, swelling with noble intent.

“Then welcome,” he said, “to His Majesty’s game.
Your place is secured when I know of your name.”

“‘Tis William,” I spoke, feeling anxious just then,
For questions of tapestries surfaced again,
And I was reminded that William the youth
Did not have the looks of the knightliest truth.
I wondered then if I belonged at that fight,
If that was my privilege, or even my right.

But thoughts were distracted by voice of the scribe,
Whose spoken directions were meant to describe
The passage I’d follow, whose footsteps would lead
At last to my tent where to rest I’d concede.