Laying down my quill pen, I picked up the sheet of paper and studied what I’d written.
Dear Uncle Roderick,
Greetings! I know you’ll be surprised to hear from me, uncle, and no wonder, since the relationship between our two families has never been cordial. But since my late father’s death I have often wished to meet with you, hoping to end all our fights and quarrels. I am willing to relinquish my claim to the East Field, if by doing so we can have peace. In hope I remain,
Pleased, I folded the paper, removed a candle from the stand behind me, and dripped some molten wax onto the edge of the page. Before it could harden I pressed it flat with my signet ring and replaced the candle in its socket.
“Giles!” I called.
A ruddy faced boy poked his head through the tent flap.
“Go deliver this letter to my uncle. You’ll know where to find him.”
“You’d better take this with you,” I said, pulling one of my white tunics off the bed and offering it to him.
“Yes, sir,” Giles said, snatching the tunic and bowing as he backed his way out of the tent.
To the boy’s misfortune, he backed straight into my brother’s stomach, hard.
“Clumsy oaf,” Rolland said, cuffing him. “Get out of my sight.”
Giles disappeared in a flurry of white tunic, and Rolland took the seat beside me, his brow furrowed with bad temper.
“Writing again, at a time like this?” he asked. “Surely you have more important things to think about.”
“I happen to think my writing is important.”
“For a scribe maybe, but you are a knight. Such work is beneath you.”
“How so? Every man should know his letters so he can conduct his own business. There is no shame in that.”
“But you are wasting your life. The pen is not the weapon you need. A knight’s only weapon is his sword.
“I wear my sword with honor,” I declared, patting it for emphasis. “I’m no coward, nor am I afraid to fight. But still, I believe I own another weapon stronger than any sword.”
“And that is….”
“This pen,” I said, picking up the quill and handing it to him.
“This?” Rolland laughed, snapping my pen in half with one quick flick of his wrists. “Let’s see you do the same with my sword,” he said, letting the pieces fall to the ground.
Before I could reply a trumpet call shattered the stillness, ringing clear and bright in the morning air.
“A horn!” Rolland cried, jumping up. “Something has happened.” He hastened to the door, and I, stopping only to grab a second white tunic, followed him out of the tent.
The sunlight blinded me for a moment, and I raised a hand to shade my eyes as I looked around. The tents surrounding mine quivered in the breeze while our soldiers, a small sea of men, stood ready in their armor, awaiting the command to attack.
Only the East Field, that contested ground, separated us from my uncle’s warriors who were prepared to fight in order to defend his claim to the land.
As I watched, a small party of horsemen broke away from his camp and rode toward us.
“Look!” I cried, clutching at Rolland’s sleeve, “they bear a white flag. Our uncle wishes to parley with us.”
“Parley?” Rolland scoffed. “Our uncle is too proud to parley. This must be a trap.”
“No,” I said, tugging him forward. “Our uncle desires peace. Come! We will meet him halfway.”
Still skeptical, Rolland followed me as I raced across the field, waving the white tunic over my head.
Halfway across the field the horsemen halted, and an old man swung himself down from his horse’s back and rushed towards us, holding my white tunic.
“Uncle Roderick, it’s so good to see you again!” I cried, greeting him with a bear hug, joy covering both our faces.
Uncle offered his hand to Rolland, but my brother refused to take it. Scowling, Rolland said, “What’s going on? Why are you here?”
“I received your letter,” Uncle Roderick said, looking serious, “and you were right, Edmond. I am ready to stop quarreling about the field. It isn’t important anymore. All I want is for us to be reconciled.”
“Yes, let us have peace,” I said, remembering the broken pen. It had done its work well.
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