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Topic: Step(s)( 11/29/12)
By Christina Banks
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As often happens in these stories, the father died and Terence’s mother remarried. In events too complex to describe in this little narrative, young Terence’s mother died leaving him alone in the care of his stepfather, Rupert the Grave. Terence’s only companions were Rupert’s quarrelsome sons. To keep the peace, Terence learned to serve his difficult stepfamily.
The king in those days was growing old and had no sons. His only consolation was his sweet daughter, but the law of the land required a male heir. Desperate to find a man worth of the crown and his daughter’s hand, the king decided to host a tournament for all the eligible young men in his kingdom. The tournament was set to begin a fortnight away, on midsummer’s day.
Messengers were sent in every direction to deliver the invitation to the entire kingdom.
Rupert the Grave and his quarrelsome sons were pleased to hear of the king’s tournament. They slammed the door in the face of the messenger and immediately began preparing for their assumed victory. Terence rushed around the side of the house with a snack for the messenger to take on his way.
Terence’s stepbrothers were waiting for him when he returned to the manor. They had a long list of things for him to do so that they could compete in the king’s tournament. The brothers left Terence to do all the work while they went out in the field with Rupert to practice their swordplay.
Terence’s work never ceased, even when the time arrived for them to travel to the tournament grounds. While Rupert and his quarrelsome sons drank and laughed with the other men, Terence set up the tents, polished the armor, and mended his stepbrothers’ cloaks.
That evening, after Rupert and the stepsons had eaten and fallen into a contented sleep, Terence pulled out his bow and checked the fletching on the arrows. He hoped to compete in the archery, if his stepfather allowed him a few moments.
While he worked a cloaked man entered the camp, begging for some bread. Terence quickly put down his work and fed the hungry traveler the left over stew from the meal he had prepared earlier in the evening. The man thanked him and hobbled away.
The next morning, while his stepfamily still slept, Terence was awake and busy. He had found wood for his small fire, and had hauled some for the elderly man in the camp next to theirs as well. He had also drawn water from the well at the edge of the tournament grounds, not just for himself, but for the young woman four sites over.
Rupert was in a good mood when he awoke. He boasted of making one of his sons King. Terence continued his work without complaint.
Finally, with his stepbrothers occupied in the sword ring, Terence wandered over to the archery range. The weary traveler from the night before was there, Terence recognized him by his worn cloak. As the traveler prepared for his turn to shoot, Terence watched intently. The man’s arrow sailed through the air and hit the bull’s-eye. Terence knew he couldn’t shoot like that, and cheered for his opponent. However, as the man pulled back for the second shot, his bow snapped. Terence immediately offered the man his own bow. The man thanked him and proceeded to hit the bull’-eye three more times. Terence was thrilled for him.
Before Terence had a chance to shoot, a glance at the sky told Terence that he was needed back at the camp. His stepfamily would want a meal after a morning of fighting. Terence slipped away from the archery range, leaving his bow in the hands of the stranger.
His stepbrothers were already at the camp celebrating their victorious battles. Terence listened to their boasting as he prepared their meal. The rest of the day was filled with exciting events.
Finally, the king called all the people together to announce his choice for an heir.
“My heir is not a man of brute strength, but a man with strength of character. I have been watching an the man who owns this bow will be my heir.” Terence was shocked to see his bow in the hand of the king.
Three days later, Terence married the princess, and as is common in these stories, they lived happily ever after.
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