Becomes Sunday's Short

I really hesitated before publishing this. It's an outgrowth of the brief story from yesterday. It's been one of those things that just wanted to write itself - the Knight and the Squire both said things I had not planned and did things I did not expect. I actually had to shorten this post because the two of them decided to carry on this long conversation that threatened not to end and I finally went back a ways and took control. And cut it off. Who knew Knights would be so chatty?

One Knight's Story - Continues

He knelt on one knee among the bodies of the men he had slain, his hand on the hilt of his sword, which was stuck down into the ground. His head was bowed, his eyes were closed, his lips moved in silent prayer.

"What prayer is it, M'Lord, that I may join you in it?"

The knight paused and look up at his squire. "I pray the Third Takbir of the Islamic prayers for the dead. It asks forgiveness."

"Forgiveness, M'Lord? What have you done that needs forgiveness? You have done nothing but fight well and bravely, M'Lord. What forgiveness is it you seek?"

"The prayer is not for myself, Squire. The prayer asks forgiveness for the dead."

"You're praying for THEM, M'Lord?"

"Yes, Squire, I pray for them, for there is no other to do so, and their religion requires that the prayers be said."

"THEIR religion? These heathens? You pray to THEIR God?"

"Their God is the same God you pray to each night, Squire, as you go to your bed. The same God you worship each morning at Mass. The same God. The God we, as Christians, inherited from the Jews. Jehovah, Yahweh, Allah, God the Father - they are all one and the same."

"But you pray their prayers, My Lord. Is that not a sacrilege?"

"If it is a sacrilege to show respect for your enemy, to KNOW your enemy, then yes, I have committed a sacrilege. Look about you, Squire. Tell me what you see."

"I see a dozen of the enemy, M'Lord, all dead by your sword."

"Look closer, Squire. Look into the faces of the dead and tell me, again, what you see."

The squire moved about, bending over, looking into the face of each of the dead Islamic warriors. He sat, then, and looked up at the knight, tears streaming down his face. "They have no beards, M'Lord. They are but children."

"Children with swords in their hands, Squire, and the strength of arm to use them, and well."

"But why, M'Lord? Why children?"

"To them, good Squire, WE are the heathens. They call us 'Infidels'. It means 'one without faith'. And they are taught from the cradle that those without faith shall not be suffered to live. "Death to the Infidel" they are taught from their mother's breast. They join in their "Holy War" as soon as they are able, knowing that should they die in battle they will go to heaven and upon their arrival there, they will be served by 27 virgins."

"Most of these be virgins, I think. They'll not be any thing else, if that's what they were."

"True, Squire. Just the point I would make, were I trying to make a point. You see about you the whole and terrible truth of war - there is no honor here, no glory here, just the bodies of dead young men who died before they should, for a cause they don't understand and killed by a man who has no clearer understanding of the reason why it all took place. So yes, I pray their prayers, I complete their ceremony to the extent I can, in hopes I can speed them on their way to heaven and their eternity with 27 virgins."

"So what do we do now, M'Lord?"

"Now, Squire? Now we bury them. And when we finish our labors, we shall refresh ourselves in that village yonder, for serving God is thirsty work, if you survive it."

"Well, that seems not fair to me, M'Lord."

"What is not fair?"

"They get virgins, M'Lord and all WE get is work."

"Would you rather trade places with them, Squire?"

"I know not, M'Lord. Do we get virgins?"


Anonymous said...

I don't think the CC would approve of the idea of Virgins in paradise ;)
Great second part.

Nan Sheppard said...

Better and better...!

moneythoughts said...

Personally, I think this thing about virgins is over rated.

Jientje said...

27? That's an awful lot for young beardless men, is it not?

Tara R. said...

You write a timeless truth.

Expat No. 3699 said...

"…for serving God is thirsty work, if you survive it…….Do we get virgins?"

Well, they could drink a virgin Bloody Mary.

I know, that was bad.

Joyce-Anne said...

If I've said it once I've said it a hundred times, I love your writing.

Eric S. said...

Fiction, perhaps, yet true to life with import and feeling. Your night is a fair hero indeed.

Patsy said...

An interesting piece of writing. I'll have to ponder on it a bit before I can make further comment which means I probably won't comment. But I will ponder on it.

Anonymous said...

Only 27? ;-)

Unknown said...

Nicole: Fortunately for them, the CC has nothing to say about it.

Nan: Thank you so much, Ma'am.

Moneythoughts: Yes, you're right. But 27!!

Jientje: Young beardless men could probably handle many more than that. 27, however, would probably be too much for me.

Tara R: I had no idea, when I started this piece, that it would say the things it said.

Employee: It was. But I like the way your mind works.

Joyce-Anne: Who's counting?

Eric S: All fiction must have an element of truth - otherwise it is not believable.

Patsy: I hope I haven't offended ...

Ree: That's all the Koran calls for.

Unknown said...

I'm with moneythoughts: I think virgins are overrated. This must be why there are far fewer women Islamic warriors.

Momisodes said...

A fabulous tale with so much truth. I loved reading both installments. But I'm with Jientje. That is an awful lot for a bunch of beardless men.