We were ten. Brian Maurice and I had a sleepover in Brian's yard, in a large tent. It felt large at the time, anyways. The roof reached high over our heads and the entrance could fit two of us at once. A castle, to us.
We spent all night reading to each other, acting out the scenes we thought were the best. Brian loved the Wind and the Willows, I remember, always picking the scene where Mole and Rat and Toad and Badger (Badger was imaginary) defeated the evil stoats ferrets and weasels for control of Toad Hall.
Maurice's favorite was The Horn of Roland, or a King Arthur story. He loved the stories of knights, though I would never play the princess.
And I? I acted out their stories. They always had better choices than I did, theirs were more fun.
But this night, they managed to get me to play the princess. I can't recall how, exactly, but
Maurice had chosen a Knights of the Round table tale known as "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight"
Do you know this story?
It is the story of a knight, bold and valiant (Maurice) who is told he will be beheaded in a year by a Green Knight. He searches all across the land, looking for the Knight, and comes upon a kindly Baron and his wife. ( guess who was the baron and who was the wife)
So Gawain stays with them, because the Baron says that the meeting place where Gawain agreed to meet with the Knight is only a short distance away. The Baron goes out to hunt each day. The Baron tells Gawain he will give him whatever he hunts as long as Gawain gives him whatever he gets during the day while he is gone. Gawain accepts.
So the Baron goes off to hunt and the Baroness immediately starts trying to seduce Gawain and he gives her one kiss. Gawain gave the Baron a kiss in return.
The next day, she gives him two more kisses, and on the third day, three kisses and an offer for a Green Belt that would protect him from harm.
Gawain accecpted the belt, the only additional thing he would gently rebuffing her advances, but he did not tell the Baron about the belt or his wife's infidelity, or give him the belt.
So when he went down to the Chapel to meet the Green Knight, The Green Knight swung once, and held back the blow, twice, held back. Third, he pricked his neck.
Then the Baron removed his Helmet.
He had been playing a joke with Gawain, and testing him. And Gawain had just barely passed.
I fell asleep early that night, but the two boys sat up talking and reading far into the night...
I don't know.
this had a lot of bearing on how the rest of our lives went.
we were young, so young