Reading the Small Script

“What a beauty! Did you see? A fair and buxom maid indeed.” “Do they all have to be buxom maids? Every time we pass a cart off you go about buxom maids.” “Well, I like buxom maids. Don’t you?”
Steve Dean's Short Story "Reading The Small Script"
Reading The Small Script

This is a humorous, or at least light-hearted, story. It’s about two characters, playing off each other. They both are able to read, which in their fantasy world means they are educated people, like knights. We all are dealing with documents, from time to time, making sure we read the small print, or small script if the print is not available. Just like in this story.

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Two figures rode along a wide path that led, ultimately, to a large city. It was quite busy today, with horses and carts going in both directions, taking their goods to and from the market. Being knights, both men were greeted cordially and with some respect by those they met. Many of the travellers stayed close to the knights, particularly in places where brigands might strike.

Gosforth was a tall man, slim, wide-shouldered, and still quite young. He was a knight of the Order of The White Heart of Constant Succour. The symbol of the order, imaginatively styled as a white heart held in two hands, hung large around his neck. His horse, like so many others, was called Charger.

Symon was not quite as tall and no longer young but was still wide-shouldered and strong. His order was called the Knights of The Crimson Sword. Their symbol was a red sword, a small example of which was embroidered on his tunic over his heart. His horse didn’t have a name, as one day he might have to eat it.

A large cart approached from the city, loaded up with people of all ages. They all greeted the pair with nods of their heads and brief eye contact. At the rear of the wagon sat a young woman with long blonde hair and the bluest eyes. She looked the two knights up and down with a twinkle in her eye and wide grin on her face.

Symon smiled. “What a beauty! Did you see? A fair and buxom maid indeed.”

Gosforth sighed. “Do they all have to be buxom maids? Every time we pass a cart off you go about buxom maids.”
“Well,” Symon said defensively, “I like buxom maids. Don’t you?”

“I am sworn to a life of purity by my knightly vows.”

“Ha, you should change Orders. My lot don’t have such a vow.”

“That would mean breaking my vows, and that I shall never do.”

“Oh. Well, what about buxom ladies?”

“What about them?”

“If the lady was important and also buxom, would you like her?”

“Ladies are not buxom, that is not respectable.”

“Really? You’ve never met Lady Vetch. It looks like there are two children fighting under a blanket when she moves.”

“Can we change the subject?”

The two knights rode along in silence for a while. Another cart appeared, filled, it seemed, with buxom young ladies all keen to catch the eye of a young knight. Symon grinned widely and had a good, long look at all the eagerly displayed cleavages.

“Well, that was a whole cart full of buxom!” Symon laughed.

“Do they really have to do that, display themselves so wantonly?”

“They don’t have to. They just like to. Besides, they were having a good look at us in return, you more than me, really. Wondering what’s hiding under that armoured codpiece I’ll bet.”

“They were?” Gosforth asked before controlling himself. “That’s irrelevant, they’ll never find out. I shall remain pure until the night of my wedding.”

Symon began to laugh then covered his mouth and pretended to cough. “You’re still pure at your age?”

“Yes, and that’s the way it will stay. I take my vows seriously, unlike some.”

“I take my vows very seriously, my good Knight. It’s just my Order has no such instruction.”

“Well, my Order is superior and so I’ll thank you to keep all your buxoms to yourself.”

The silence returned, and they carried on towards the city accompanied by the clopping of horses’ hooves and the clinking of metal. More buxom maids passed by, and Gosforth smiled and raised his eyebrows in appreciation, but didn’t speak.

Late in the afternoon, the unlikely pair arrived in the city. Gosforth headed for the inn sanctioned by his Order as a suitably Knightly establishment. Symon headed for a similar building favoured by his Order. They parted amicably enough; they were brother knights despite their differences.

Later that evening as Gosforth was about to turn in, there was a knock on his chamber door. When he opened it, Symon was standing their looking very serious.

“Gosforth, my good Knight, come quickly, your presence is needed.”

“Is someone in distress?” Gosforth grabbed his sword.

“Someone is in need of aid.”

“Who, and where?”

“Quickly, there’s very little time.”

Symon turned and ran down the wooden stairs and out into the night, Gosforth close on his heels. Symon headed up the street, around several corners and then into a temple. He finally stopped in front of a lectern on which sat a huge book.

“Is this some kind of jest?” Gosforth demanded.

“No, my friend. Someone is in needless distress. You. This is a copy of the vows you swore upon joining your Order. Please read them.”

Gosforth had plenty to say to Symon and was even considering challenging him to a duel to defend his honour. Before it went that far he began to read. The whole page was filled with vows, many of them starting with ‘Ye shall not…” Finally, he got to the part Symon was indicating.

“Ye shall be pure of heart and word in all that you do until your life is utterly spent.”

Symon didn’t speak, just stood there grinning.

Gosforth read the vow again, then continued. “What are you trying to say, my good Knight?”

“You said you had to be celibate because of your vows. Now, there are a lot of vows here, but not one of them says that.”

“Nonsense. It says here “Pure of heart and word and… oh.” He quickly read through it all again. “Oh. Well, I must have misunderstood. What does this mean?”

“It means you can have as much buxom as you want.”

“I can? I can! Er, can you take me to where it’s available?”

Symon grinned widely. “Of course!”

That night, Gosforth did indeed discover he liked buxom, and many people discovered exactly what was under his armoured codpiece and liked what they saw.


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