Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Adulthood (07/30/09)
TITLE: Winning his Spurs and Sword
By Daniel Kane
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I started my training at the age of seven. As a result of not having a tremendously wealthy father, I stayed at home rather than going to serve some other lord. Personally, I reckon that my father did just as good a job as anyone else would have. He did not pamper me. The local peasants used to say that my father was, “as tough as leather and as hard as horseshoe nails.” I tell you, I soon came to learn how true it was. I was given the horrible jobs that no one else wanted. I had to clean huge mounds of armour all on my own. I had to learn all the complicated expressions that showed a boy was from an important family; expressions like spoiling a hen and unlacing a rabbit. I even had to learn to read and write! At least I didn’t have to clean out the latrine – that smelly job is definitely for the peasants. For seven long years I slaved away, often wondering whether my father loved me at all. Like I say, he was not soft on me.
Then, at the age of fourteen, I gained a higher rank in my training. That’s not to say it was any easier, just that I didn’t get all the horrible jobs. I had to learn how to dress my father in his armour, a job that could take up to an hour. I also had to learn how to dress him in his normal clothes, though why he had suddenly discovered an inability to clothe himself is beyond my understanding. He was doing just fine up till then. Then, of course, I had to strengthen my body and learn how to fight with weapons. That part was very difficult. I’d always been a skinny little mite, and running around a courtyard in a heavy metal suit was not my idea of fun. Neither was lifting a sword that’s longer than I’m tall and heavier than you could imagine. Nevertheless, I persevered. After about a year of this, my father saw that I showed promise and so he finally sent me away to serve another lord, Lord Brandon of the Purple Field.
That Lord Brandon was even harsher than my father had been. If I was late for anything I would be beaten with a thin willow wand. If I failed to do any of my fighting exercises correctly, I would be thrown into the moat. If the horse assigned to me was found with the slightest little scratch or sore hoof I could not participate in the next feast. All of this made me very moody, of course. It did, however, toughen me up, and by the end of my seven-year apprenticeship I was a strong lad, skilled with lance, sword, bow, stave, and just plain old fisticuffs. I knew how to wait upon the guests around the great table. I understood all the rules of court etiquette. I was able to read fast, and write neatly. My father, who occasionally came round to see how I was getting on, finally decided that I was fit to be knighted.
The day came at last, and I was not a bit nervous. First of all I was given a freezing cold bath. Then I stayed awake all night on the cold stone floor of the chapel dedicating myself to God and asking him to help me fight for him. Despite the long hours dragging by, despite my eyelids feeling as though they had heavy stones attached to them, despite even the melodious trilling of the nightingale outside, I managed to stay awake. By the next morning I was exhausted, but very excited. My father’s baron was waiting for me. I knelt before him and vowed to fight for God and protect the helpless. Then the baron bashed with his sword me on my right shoulder three times – none of all that silly tapping that people talk about. Then he gave me my spurs and my sword. I had done it. I was a knight. As I walked away beside my father with the people cheering around me, I heard him whisper, “Now thou art a real man.”
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