The Squire

In ancient times in a land far away, two kings did sally forth to do battle on each other over a mortal insult one had inflicted on the other. Of course, the one doing the insulting said he had meant no such thing, but being much misunderstood, intended to prove his righteousness on the one that he had insulted.

A third king, being rather more civilized and peace-loving than they, and having a poorer kingdom, which could not support the number of troops that they had, attempted to make peace between them and succeeded only in this much, that rather than laying the lands waste and doing in far too many of the peasantry at *just* the wrong time, so that it would ensure a poor harvest, that they would hold a great tournament and hastilude at a spot that all three claimed and had fought over before, so the peasants were all gone. They agreed that the winner of the tourney would decide the outcome of the dispute and be paid a huge amount in gold and gems, besides.

So the three kings sent out all their knights  with servants in great array. Oh, the great and colorful pavilions! The fluttering of silken banners and pennons! The shining armor on stands! Two of the kings had over 100 knights apiece and each had at least 3 squires, not to mention pages, and horse-copers and cooks and washerwomen and on and on.

Their trains were larger than the 3rd king’s entire kingdom! He had one knight…. who had one squire… and no servants…

While the knights were dining on pheasant and white bread and drinking great draughts of wine, the lone knight’s squire, made a humble bean pottage with just a bit of bacon and set out wooden cups of beer for his knight and himself.

While the rich knights’ horses were drowsing in pavilions of their own with braziers to keep them warm and grooms to tend them and horseboys to put on their blankets with plenty of grain and rich hay, the knight tended his own horse and the squire’s donkey, who cropped the sparse grass, and the squire put up an old bit of canvas to shelter them from the rain that was starting to come down.

They only had the one pot, so the squire took it down to the river to scrub it after they ate their meager supper and then made a loop of rope, a kind of hangman’s knot, to hold to pot to catch rainwater, so they didn’t have to drink muddy water in the morning, and hauled it high up the tree, so that nothing would get into it.

Well, the most of the knights *way* overdid it on the alcohol and during their roistering came up with the marvelous idea that rather than strain their own bones and risk their own armor and expensive horses, they would have another day of steady drinking and let the squires take the field instead! Well, it made sense mostly because they were quite drunk, but that’s how things happen….

This rather unsettled the lone knight when he heard of it in the morning, but he gamely helped his young squire get his armor on and loaned him his own horse and helm for the tilting, acting as his squire’s squire, ignoring the jeers of the other knights.

The knight had given his one squire a little extra in training, though, and the youngster unhorsed squire after squire, and was the only one never to get unseated even once! He won the day!

So then they had a melee of just the squires, the next day, since the knights had gotten quite tight again. The young squire challenged squire after squire, steadily acquiring armor and horses and shields and weapons that were going to bring a pretty ransom. It finally turned out that the last squires standing rushed him in a body and he managed to knock them all down, ended up the last one standing, even if he was wavering, leaning on his sword and his good knight’s shield. He had beaten them *all* not just once, but twice!

His knight was proud enough to burst! Well, wouldn’t YOU be? …and the other knights were so impressed that they held the young man’s vigil that night, and called the kings out to the event to witness his knighting in the morning!

The poor king was awarded the gold and gems, which helped him raise up the standard of his kingdom, immensely. He rewarded his lone knight’s loyalty and training abilities by immediately finding him 30 squires! …and he also gave him plenty of money to equip himself and his squires better. The young man became the general of his armies, and quite wealthy from the ransoms. The no longer poor king worked out a solution to the insults that left the other two kings in awe of his wisdom….

…so they all lived happily ever after….

…and it just goes to show you that Pythagoras got it right: the squire of the high pot and noose IS equal to the sum of the squires of the other two sides!

A recording of Anja telling the tale. –

Page created and published 4/19/19 (C)M. Bartlett
Last updated 8/7/22