The Chivalrous Thing to Do

Reads: 17  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Jokes  |  House: Booksie Classic

Some tales are not what they appear to be.

A young knight, Sir Liam, is talked into saving a fair maiden locked in a tower. Leading the way are three down-on-their-luck bandits hoping to make a quick profit. However, finding their way through a dark forest, borrowing a cart to deliver vegetables, and frankly, having a whole ring of keys and only one keyhole - let's just say it takes more than wit and will to know the answer to this question: what IS the Chivalrous Thing to Do?

~JOURNEY TO THE CASTLE~

 

"Yes, good sir, she's up yonder in that high tower!" Dick said, gesturing toward the castle in the distance.

"Been there waiting for a knight to save her," Brendan added.

"Mustn't keep us—her waiting," Jack, the dwarf, finished.

Sir Liam, the young knight the three men spoke to, was silent. He was not sure he wanted to trust this strange trio that had emerged from the forest just as he neared it. Their clothes were rather shabby and threadbare, not to mention their faces had a hungry, desperate air about them. Their willingness to tell him where he could find a maid to save before he had asked for such knowledge added to his wariness.

In truth, he needn't have feared they wanted to kill him. Dick, Brendan, and Jack were bandits whose hideout was in the forest. Latterly, things hadn't been going so well for them. Not too many people were traveling through the woods those days, which was making the bandits' career come to a humiliating standstill. It was a great relief to them, therefore, when they saw the young, unsuspecting Sir Liam riding down the road toward the forest. They could tell by the bewildered look on his face that he was a stranger to those parts. 

The bandits were immensely excited. At last, they had some sport to rob. But then, upon reflection, they realized that there was not much sport to this particular potential victim. For one thing, there didn't seem that there was much on the young knight to steal. For another, killing people was quite the sport of course, but then there were corpses that had to be disposed of. Wishing to deem themselves higher than the "common" scum of the rabble, the bandits would bury the dead bodies of their victims—but nobody likes digging graves for people they don't know, especially when there's no reward in it for them; though Dick, being the leader, would generously burden his comrades with undertaker duty.

Filled with these virtuous, practical considerations, they decided against killing the young knight. However, they were loathe to just let him go. It was their forest and he had no right to saunter by without letting them make some use of him to their advantage. It was at this point that Brendan, the born diplomat of the group, suggested that they tell the knight about the young maiden they heard was trapped in the tower of the nearby castle bordering their forest. If the knight saved the maiden and they helped him, imagine what reward they could reap for themselves! And no one would have to know about their true identity.

Still, when he met the unusual trio, Sir Liam was not sure he wanted to cast his lot with the men without knowing their true intent. After all, he knew how devious the art of deception can be.

"Honest yeomen," he began, "what prompts you to tell me of this fair maiden?"

"A hope for better luck," Dick muttered.

"A few bags filled with golden reward," Jack said, at the same instant.

The overlapping voices merged the answers and Sir Liam could not distinguish their words. Rolling his eyes, Brendan pushed Dick back and tripped Jack as he rushed forward, asking, 

"What wouldn't, O perpetrator of chilvery?"

"...I believe the term might be 'chivalry'," Sir Liam corrected.

"Indeed," Brendan agreed. "Our desire is merely to give you assistance in doing what every knight seeks to do."

"And what would that be, my good man?" Sir Liam asked. 

"Whatever is chivalrous."

"How could you know what is chivalrous?" the young knight asked.

"How could you not wish to show us?" Brendan countered, "you who claim to know so much about it?"

"That's true," Dick agreed. "You pride yourself on your knowledge of chivalry - "

"And then take all the gol - erm, glory for yourself," Jack finished.

"Without letting any other men be rewarded for trying. Is that the chivalrous thing to do?" Brendan asked Sir Liam.

The young knight did not answer. He still did not believe the three men before knew even the definition of chivalry...but then, they were telling him of a way he could be chivalrous. If he could find some way to teach them a little honor and integrity, would not that be the chivalrous thing to do?

So, at long last Sir Liam agreed that the men could accompany him on his new mission to save the fair maiden in the tower. It took them a little while to get near the castle—that is to say, it was night by the time they reached one of the outer walls. After much deliberation, it was decided that Jack, being the shortest of the group, would try to find a way to sneak in. He grumbled about this for a while, but then disappeared into the dark. 

He was gone for a very, very long time. There was no sign nor sound in the wood, save for an occasional sneeze or footfall from Liam's companions. Though Liam had anticipated that Jack would have some difficulty in carrying out his commission, he hadn't envisioned it would take so much time, but just when he began to fear that things had really gone ugly for the little fellow, up Jack popped in the midst of them. Grinning from ear to ear, the dwarf dangled a ring of keys in front of Liam's face.

"Good work, Jack," Dick said approvingly. "Swipe 'em off of the head of the castle himself?"

"Nope," Jack said, dumping the keys into Liam's hands, "the farmer delivering the vegetables gave me his spare."

"What farmer?" Sir Liam asked.

Jack told them that deliveries were made to the castle by an old farmer who drove the wagon of food. The old codger, however, was very tired because he had been driving the cart all over the countryside for the past few days. Jack had struck a deal with him that he and his companions would deliver the food to the castle for him. The farmer agreed and gave Jack the keys.

Dick offered to drive the wagon, but Liam felt more comfortable doing it himself. Brendan and Jack had already disappeared in the bed of the wagon among the vegetables. Wanting to keep up his leader status, Dick climbed up next to Liam and gave him directions. 

The trip was fairly uneventful, except for the fact that Dick was not really familiar with the forest at night and Liam wasn't familiar with the forest at all. Just when they finally found the right path, Liam drove the wagon too close to a tree. It bumped to the side.

"Whoop! Better let me handle this!" Dick cried. "After all, leaders know the ropes better than anyone else." 

With that, he pushed Liam over the seat and into the back. It must be known that Dick was very sensitive about being respected as the leader of his band. Though completely willing to help Liam, he wasn't about to let the young knight replace him in his rank. 

Liam landed heavily on his stomach. The awning over the vegetables turned the bed of the wagon into a sea of bumps. One "bump" was bigger than the others and moved with a loud grunt.

"Can't you watch where you're falling?" Jack snapped, shoving Liam off of him.

"Forgive me," Liam apologized meekly as he rolled off. "It's difficult to see in this dark."

At that moment, Brendan suddenly popped up from under the awning and Liam collided with him. Winded, Brendan slammed against the side of the wagon, the young knight lying against his stomach and over his legs.

"And you're the one who claims to be a knight?" the bandit asked. "You'd better hope no one asks you to do a rescue mission after dark."

"I do," Liam replied, "though I also hope one day my night-vision will improve."

"I hope so, too," Brendan agreed. "After all, it's necessary for survival." As he said this, he pulled something out from under the awning.

"What is that?" Sir Liam asked.

"What's it look like?" Brendan replied, holding it for Liam to see. The object looked like a carrot.

"Surely you're not going to eat it?" Liam continued.

"Why not?" the bandit shrugged.

" 'Tis not yours," Liam protested firmly.

"Well, I'm hungry," Brendan growled. 

"I suppose you think I am not as well?" Liam frowned.

"I suppose I don't care if you are as well," Brendan snapped, "Besides, 'tis only a carrot."

"I'm sure the fair maiden will allow you to eat it once we rescue her," the young knight said, crawling off of Brendan.

"Oh, be reasonable, Sir Liam!" Brendan complained. "This is cruel."

"No, it's chivalrous!" Jack quipped sarcastically.

"No," Liam said firmly, "it's—" he stopped. 

Chivalry was a hard virtue to learn, especially in such circumstances as this. Perhaps the lesson would be better retained in less dire circumstances—that is to say, when his own stomach wasn't clamoring for a morsel from the cart.

"You're right," he shrugged, "'tis only a carrot..."

"Oh, hang it all," Brendan grumbled, seeing the disappointment on the young knight's face. Throwing the carrot away in disgust, he folded his arms over his knees and leaned his chin on them. "I'm still hungry," he muttered.

"Me, too," Liam sighed, sitting down.

"How far is the castle, Dick?" Jack grumbled.

"A hop, skip, and a jump," Dick replied. "That is, of course, if you've a mind to walk."

The three in the back looked toward the front. Up ahead, the castle was ablaze with torches, and a few soldiers marched along the walls.

 

~RESCUING THE FAIR MAIDEN~

 

"Well, well," Jack said. "It really is a hop -"

"Get down, all of you!" Liam whispered, pulling down Brendan and the dwarf. 

Dick began to climb into the back as well. 

"No, no, not you! You're the driver, Dick!" Liam said, pushing him forward. 

Dick quickly regained control of the reins, and guided the cart through the front gate.

"Who goes there?" a soldier called out. 

"I do," Dick answered.

"State your name and why you are here," the soldier shot back.

Dick tried to explain that he was there to deliver the food for the castle, but the soldiers didn't believe him. When he attempted to prove it to them by showing the food in the cart, he found it difficult to lift the awning. He didn't know it, but Brendan and Jack were holding it down and nothing was going to make them let go. Dick then offered for the soldiers to lift off the covering. However, not only did they meet with no success, but the vegetables under the awning mysteriously whacked their fingers soundly.

After this, the soldiers grabbed Dick angrily and brought him into the castle, telling him that he was going to answer to the lord of the castle for his—and his vegetables'—impudence. As prisoners were rare in that castle, all the soldiers found one excuse or another for going inside and soon the small courtyard was vacant.

Cautiously, Sir Liam peeked out. No one was around. He pushed up the cover, and Brendan and Jack looked around as well. 

"Not much of a guard," Liam observed.

"Don't complain," Brendan said. "It shan't be as hard to rescue the maid as we thought."

"And she'd better be worth her weight in gold," Jack muttered under his breath.

"Quick, Jack," Liam said. "Hand me the keys. You two find the barracks and borrow some weapons. Only defend yourselves if necessary. I shall rejoin you soon."

Holding the keys tightly in his hand, Liam lightly leaped over the side of the wagon and darted into the castle. Carefully avoiding the small troops of soldiers that would occasionally march by, the knight was finally able to make his way to the tower. He turned the knob. It was locked of course, so Liam selected the first key on the chain, slid it into the lock, and turned the key. 

Nothing happened. Having expected that, Liam tried the next key...and the next...and the next. 
It was nearly a quarter of an hour later when poor Liam grasped the last key there was.

"Surely this must be the one," he thought confidently, inserting the key in the rusty lock. He turned it, and—nothing happened.

Now, of course the rules of chivalry frown upon a display of temper and a flash of impatience, and Sir Liam was aware of all that. But truly, the poor boy had tried so hard to find the right key and now all hope of an easy rescue were thrown out the window. Not to mention it had taken him so long to get to the castle, to get in the castle, and to get up to the tower. On top of everything else, it was very late into the night and the young knight was exhausted. 

Bearing all this in mind, Liam did not break into oaths and curses nor start pulling out his hair. He merely threw the keys to the floor and kicked the large, heavy oaken door.

"Confound these cumbersome oaken planks!" said he. 

The door seemed to apologize for its unsympathetic behavior towards the amateur rescuer; for as soon as Liam's foot struck against it, the door meekly detached itself from its hinges and fell with a heavy thud to the floor.

Liam had not expected such a cooperative response and stared at the fallen boards. 

"Finally!" a voice from within the room said, "I was wondering when someone would come to rescue me at last."

Liam entered the room, but pulled up short in surprise. Sitting at a table near the window sat a very lovely and delicate maid who, aside from being both surprised and relieved at once, also looked like a woman who was well over forty years old. Liam was shocked.

"Are you not a fair maiden?" he managed to ask.

"I am indeed," she replied. "My father taught me to never be biased in any of my judgments, and I never have been."

"But—but I was under the impression that you were a fair maiden in the...physical sense," Liam stammered.

"Well, I was," she said. "But that was back during the time that every girl and her sister were fair maidens. Girls were being stolen and saved everywhere, and no castle was a castle without a tower in which a fair maiden was held, waiting to be rescued. So after my father died, the usurper who took my power from me locked me up in this tower because...well, that was just the thing to do with a fair maiden."

I'm glad I was born a boy, Liam thought to himself. Out loud, he said, "If you desire, fair maiden, I will fight this usurper and restore your castle to you."

"Would you?" she asked. "That would certainly be the chivalrous thing to do. You don't seem to know your way around the castle, so I will gladly help you to find him."

The young knight and the fair maiden left the tower and searched through the numerous rooms and chambers in hopes of finding the usurper. However, he could not be located anywhere. After the fourteenth room, Liam suddenly realized that it was likely nigh fifteen years since the fair maid had seen the layout of her castle. Therefore, her memory was not necessarily helpful in this search. 

Liam was on the point of suggesting this to his rescued dame when he suddenly heard loud shouts coming from the level beneath them.

"The great hall!" the fair maiden cried. "He must be in the great hall!"

With that, she darted past Liam and down the stairs. It was all Liam could do to keep up with her. She came to two heavy doors behind which the loud yells were heard and was on the point of opening them when Liam caught up to her.

"Prudence!" he said, pulling her back, "let us hear what they are saying."

They listened. 

What they seemed to hear was a very heated argument taking place. Well, it was only heated on one side. One person was angrily demanding information from another person and that other person was calmly but firmly not cooperating. Liam did not recognize the voices until the calm one spoke up.

"Well, I am sorry if you want to be so sensitive," he snapped, "It's not my fault that your vegetables suddenly decided they were of the stubborn lot."

"Dick! He's with the usurper!" Liam thought.

"How am I to be blamed for that?" the angry man fumed, "You grew the vegetables."

"You bought the vegetables," Dick retorted.

"Enough!" the leader cried. "You are up to something! At the very least you want to insult my name!"

"I couldn't insult your name," Dick rolled his eyes, "I don't know your name."

"Nor will you ever!" the usurper shouted.

At this, Sir Liam thought it wise to enter the room. It was good that he did for the foul usurper was about to strike Dick down with his sword. Liam quickly intervened with his own blade, and the two locked in a fierce combat.

"Who are you?" the leader asked as they fought.

"Sir Liam." Liam answered. "And you?"

"Duke Samuel," came the reply.

"Really?" Liam said. "Now I know."

At that moment, the Duke caught Liam unaware, knocking his sword from his hand and pushing him to the floor. Standing over him, the man haughtily drew himself up to his full height.

"Know what?" he asked snobbishly.

"Know why you do not want many people to know your name," Liam smiled.

"You're not the only one," Liam heard Dick's voice say. 

The duke turned around in time to see Dick's fist. Dick hit him square on his nose, and the Duke crashed to the floor. Furious, he stood up to retaliate. However, the fair maiden had entered the room, and the duke had unknowingly stepped on her long cloak. She quickly pulled it out from under him and he tumbled forward, hitting his head on the floor and going unconscious.

"Thank you, fair maiden," Liam said, "and thanks to you, too, Dick. I owe you my life."

"Ah, 'twas but the chivalrous thing to do," Dick shrugged.

Liam smiled, but suddenly there were loud shouts and heavy clankings of metal down the hall. Liam quickly pulled the maiden away from the doors while Dick closed them.

"Hide yourself!" Liam told her. "We shall take care of whomever comes."

He drew out his sword and Dick borrowed the duke's sword since the nobleman didn't need it at the moment. The noises stopped right in front of the doors. Then a heavy knock sounded against the thick wood, and the doors were slowly pushed open. On the threshold of the room stood a solitary soldier who was so covered in armor that none of his face could be seen. It seemed he could not move without difficulty.

Actually, it did not seem so—it was. When the soldier tried to take a step forward, he tripped and fell flat on his face. His helmet rolled off his head, and it was then that he looked up at the knight, the lady, and the bandit.

"Brendan?" Liam asked in amazement. The "soldier" smiled.

"Those soldiers scare so easy," he laughed. "You should have seen the looks on their faces...actually I wish you had because I couldn't see much through my helmet."

Brendan then proceeded to tell them that he and Jack had dressed up in armor, putting one loose suit on, and then an even looser suit on top of that. Thus, when they had marched down the dark halls, the suits clanked together more noisily than usual. 

Now loud noises in the night is enough to frighten any person. But when the noises are recognized as squeaks of armor and are also accompanied by angry shouts made by strangers who seem to be in a very bad mood, well—that would frighten more than just any person. The soldiers in the castle, upon hearing the unusual sounds, quickly came to the aforesaid conclusion and wisely evacuated the castle.

"There are no fools like the wise fools," Brendan grinned in satisfaction.

"Who are you calling a fool?" Jack demanded, appearing in the doorway behind him. "You didn't even take off your armor."

He had long since doffed his own. He looked up and saw Dick. 

"Left the work to us again, huh, leader? Well, at least you're all right."

"Actually," Dick countered, "I saved the knight and he saved the lady."

"Yes, indeed," the fair maiden said, "and you all deserve to be rewarded. What do you desire?" she turned to Liam first.

"Fair maiden," Sir Liam replied, "I should like nothing more than to know your name."

The fair maiden smiled. "It is Lady Catalina," she said.

"A queenly name," Liam bowed.

"As for us," Dick said, "We only require some gold coins—but you can put them in saddlebags."

"With saddles under them," Jack added.

"And horses beneath those," Brendan finished with a broad and charming grin.

Lady Catalina was taken aback slightly, and it was some time before she answered. Then, her face relaxed into a smile.

"My stables are at your disposal," she said. "Take what you need with my grateful thanks."

"You have ours," Dick bowed.

"My Lady Catalina," Liam said suddenly, turning to her, "what shall be done with the Duke Samuel? I feel we should not depart until we have helped you take care of him."

"Oh, have no fear," Lady Catalina replied, with a wave of her hand. "He is but a duke in name only, and I think I know what will induce him to leave."

Indeed she did know. When the "duke" awoke, he was given the choice of leaving the castle quietly or else retaining his power with no fear of opposition, provided he marry the fair Lady Catalina. However, as Lady Catalina was not a "fair maiden" in the commonly recognized definition of the phrase, the duke decided that he would take the former option and find a girl who was more visually appealing. 

So, a few days after Duke Samuel had left, Sir Liam and his three friends prepared to take their leave as well. The good-byes and farewells had all been exchanged and Liam had mounted his steed, all ready to ride off, when Jack suddenly scrambled up behind him on the horse. Liam was surprised, but before he could comment, he noticed that Dick and Brendan were also astride handsome stallions and drawing near.

"Where to now, Sir Liam?" Dick asked casually.

"What? But I thought—" Liam stammered.

"Oh, don't worry," Brendan said with a broad grin. "We're not going back to our banditry."

"Banditry?" This was news to Liam.

"But you're the only person we know who can help us find a different road," Jack said, putting his arms around Liam's waist to keep himself steady. "We only know the road through the forest."

"Surely you don't mind?" Dick inquired, eyeing Sir Liam uncertainly.

Liam opened his mouth to protest, but no words came through his lips. He knew deep down he could not refuse these men the chance to better their lives. Surely it was good luck that had placed them together. Had he a right to object?

"Of course I do not mind," the young knight smiled. "You may come if you wish. I'm glad to have you along."

He turned his horse toward the gate and spurred it forward.

"After all," he said as he, Dick, Brendan, and Jack rode out of the castle and into the quiet meadows, "'Tis the chivalrous thing to do."

 


Submitted: November 09, 2020

© Copyright 2020 BloodRose17. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

Other Content by BloodRose17

Short Story / Fantasy