The Retired Knight. By Martin Green.
The two rough-looking young men had suddenly appeared as 10-year old Jack and his older sister Mary were on the way back to their farm from the market.
Well, what have we here? said the larger of the two.
A likely-looking wench, Sir Charles, replied the other.
Im sure our lord would like to make her acquaintance, Sir Ronald
This had become a common occurrence as the kingdom had descended into lawlessness after the death of King Arthur. The young people especially had thrown off all restraints, declaring that anyone over 30 couldnt be trusted and that now they were claiming their rights and could do anything they wanted. It was a turbulent time, in many ways similar to our own.
I dont believe youre knights, said Mary, who was a plucky girl. Youre common hooligans. Now let us pass.
In response the one called Ronald grabbed Marys arm. Leave her alone, Jack shouted. He tried to get at Ronald but the other one, Charles, pushed him to the ground.
Is there a problem here? Another person had appeared, a knight in black armor seated on a black horse. His helmet was up and Jack could see he was an older man; his hair and beard were flecked with gray.
Theres no problem here, said Charles. Go about your business, old man.
They wont let us pass. They want to take me somewhere, said Mary.
I think this is my business, said the knight. He leveled his spear at the two young men. Begone or Ill run you through.
Well go, said Charles. But this isnt the end of it. Well be seeing you again.
After the two had left, the knight said, Youd better be getting home. Ill accompany you. Once they were safely back at the farm, the knight asked, Is your mother or father at home?
They both died in the plague last year, said Mary.
Im sorry, said the knight. I wish you well. He turned the black horse and rode off in the direction of the forest.
Im going to follow him, said Jack.
I want to find out more about him. Besides, those two hooligans belong to a gang. If they find him I want to help him.
Jack, youre always dreaming of fighting and of glory. All right, go, but be careful.
Jack knew the forest very well. He followed the trail he thought the knight would take and, sure enough, he soon saw the black horse standing in a clearing by a stream. In a few minutes, the knight came into view. He must have been bathing in the stream because he was bare to the waist. He wasnt muscular but he looked lean and sinewy. Then the two hooligans from earlier, Charles and Ronald, burst into the clearing. This time they both had swords..
We told you wed be seeing you again, said Charles. Now youll regret your interference.
Im retired from fighting, said the knight. Just go now and leave me in peace.
Charles laughed. Not until weve cut you into little bits.
Enough talking, said Ronald. Lets have at him.
Jack leaped out from his hiding place, shouting, Watch out. At the same time, Charles lunged. Suddenly, as if by magic, a sword appeared in the knights hand. He easily turned aside the lunge, then the sword moved so quickly Jack could hardly see it and Charles sword went sailing in the air while he looked in disbelief at the wounds hed suffered in both arms. He turned and ran. His friend Ronald ran after him.
I though you were unarmed, Jack said. Where did your sword come from?
The knight smiled. Oh, old Jenny is never too far away.
The name of my sword.
Whats your name?
You can call me Lanc, er, Landry.
Thats a funny name. I came here to warn you. Those two belong to a gang. Youd better leave now. Theyll be back looking for revenge.
I think Jenny and I can take care of those youngsters. But I was going to move on anyway. Im going to Camelot.
To Camelot? May I come with you? I can be your squire. He picked up Charles sword and swung it around. I can use this. And you can teach me so Ill get better.
Youd be safer staying home.
Theres nothing for me here. Please take me.
Lets go to your farm first and see how your sister feels.
Im sure shell agree. Then its on to Camelot.
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