• Dara Kountz

The Chronicles of Father Simon Part 1

Father Simon Part One By: Dara Kountz I sit and look back on my life, at all I have accomplished and all I have failed, and I can only say that my father was one of the wisest men I have ever had the pleasure and honor to know. I have met many great men during my life and have been called the a great man but my only hope is that, when I again meet those in the next life who inspired me in this, they will agree. My father and my mentor have been dead for many years and it pains me that these men and their deeds have been forgotten by history. I look to their lives daily for lessons for myself and my students and I wonder what will happen to those lessons when I have gone on to join them. Therefore, I sit here and try to make a record for the benefit of those to come of great men who have gone before. I still remember those years of learning as if they were yesterday. I remember the first day I met my teacher and the incredible wisdom of my father. I was watching the keep's gate with excitement waiting for Him. My father had assured me that today would be the day. He would arrive, the great man who had agreed to take me as an apprentice. My mind was filled with wondrous visions of great warhorses, shining armor, and heroic deeds. I would be the best of students to the finest of knights and, when I had learned all I could, I would go out and become a great knight myself. Eventually, my youthful impatience was appeased and He rode through the gates. The knight was everything I had dreamed and more. His armor gleamed so brightly it was painful to gaze at. His warhorse was a pure white with dark intelligent eyes and its muscle rippled with barely restrained power. He had a large broadsword near at hand with a perfectly cut ruby entwined in the hilt. This was a master to be proud of. Mentally I blessed my father and thanked providence for giving me such luck as to have this man as my master. The knight dismounted in a graceful motion which spoke of great strength and control since he was garbed in full armor. He tossed the reins to a nearby peasant. "Take him to the stables and make sure he gets clean straw and extra grain." His voice was as grand as his appearance, commanding attention. He strode into the main entrance, demanding his things be brought to his room quickly. I watched, awestruck, as he passed me without a glance. "Excuse me." A soft voice spoke behind me. I turned in annoyance from the sight of the knight's retreating back to see a nondescript man standing there. He was of medium height with plain brown hair and wearing plain clothes, worn but neatly patched. His face was soft and smiling and all he carried was a large bundle on his back and a walking staff. I was very unhappy at being interrupted, so my response was extremely abrupt. "What?" "Could you direct me to where I am to sleep?" This man was obviously the knight's servant and an inexperienced one at that. "The stables are over there." "Thank you." The man smiled and walked in the direction I had pointed, smiling and greeting people along the way. I, in turn, hurried to make sure my best finery was ready for tonight. I wanted to make a good impression. As I entered the main building, I noticed the knight's servant had not made it to the stables. He was in the blacksmith's forge, working the bellows. It would be nice having a servant along. I could concentrate on the important tasks of sword play and courtly rules while someone else did the tedious tasks of cooking and cleaning. I took a great deal of time readying myself for dinner. Before I left my room, I made sure not a hair was out of place or a speck marred the velvet of my clothes. Entering the dining hall near the head table, I came to a horrified stop. Sitting at my father's right hand was the knight's servant. The little man obviously did not know his place and my father, for some unfathomable reason, had not rectified the situation. I hurried to the table to get this straightened out before the knight could witness such an embarrassing breach of protocol. My father looked up as I approached and I was stopped dead in my tracks a second time that night. The fury in his eyes chilled me but I could not understand its cause. Before I could ask what I had done, he cut me off, "Do not say a word. Just sit down and do not speak." He, then, turned his attention back to the servant. "So, Father, what did you do after you were told to sleep in the stable." "Lord Tyrone, please you know I wish to be called Simon and I do not understand the depth of you anger." "You should have been instantly led to the best room, not pointed to some stall." The man smiled softly in amusement. "I am not comfortable in such finery, as you well know. Besides, the stables remind me of Balaam. He was a fine horse and I still miss him at times." "Yes, I remember Balaam. I also remember I gave him to you so you would no longer have to walk. What have you done with him?" The conversation shocked me. Balaam had been one of my father's prized horses. He was the best horse ever bred from our stables and I had always assumed he had been sold to another noble house. Apparently, though, he had been given to this man who was, according to his title, a friar and not the servant I had assumed him to be. "I gave him to someone who needed him more than I." "Who needed him more than a man who walks hundreds of miles?" "A poor village with a large number of children." To my shocked disapproval, my father laughed. "I should have guessed. Well, Balaam is a strong horse. I am sure he can do a lot of work." My mind reeled at the mental scene of Balaam, a horse that would have been the pride and joy of any stable, being used as a common work animal. Worse, my father was laughing about it instead of being justly outraged. I could remain silent no longer. "Do you realize how valuable that horse is? Any house in the land would pay top price merely to incorporate his blood line into their stables. By what right did you just give him to some group of peasants?" I immediately regretted my outburst. My father turned to me in a towering rage and I cowered before his fury. The friar put a calming hand on my father's arm. "It is ever a child's place to be curious, is it not?" My father turned back to the man, paused, then chuckled. "Curiosity is this? You have such a way with words, Simon. I swear you could describe a snake ridden swamp and make it sound like a pleasant place to live." Simon returned my father's smile. "Well, so it is, if you look at it properly." The friar then addressed me. "Child, Balaam was, through your father's generosity, my horse to do with as I wished. I chose to give him to a village where his value is now incalculable, measured in the lives of children who will eat and live through his strength." My father intently studied the emotions on my face as I struggled to deal with the situation. Who was this friar that my father should listen to him and bow to his requests? Why would my father give him the best of our horses and then laugh at Balaam's humiliation? Where was the knight? Surely he would straighten out this mess. "I think it is time for you meet your new mentor." I looked around eagerly for the great knight. I could not imagine how he had entered without my notice. "Father Simon, here is the boy you have agreed to take as an apprentice. I hope William's behavior tonight has not changed your mind. However, I will understand if it has." "Father, you can not be serious! I am to follow and serve this man. He was working in the blacksmith's forge. What can I, a Lord's son, learn from him? Please father, desist with your jests and tell me where is the great knight who arrived today?" "You might learn to keep your mouth shut. Do not ever mention that so called knight to me again. That arrogant pig threw a trained warhorse's reins to a child who knew nothing of horses. Before my grooms could bring the very frustrated warhorse to a standstill, it broke the arm of the thatcher's son and almost killed a four-year-old child. That would be knight will be working in my fields until all the damage of his arrogance has healed. This is no jest, William, there is much for you to learn from Father Simon and nothing to learn from an ill-mannered brat who could have caused the deaths of several because he could not be bothered to ensure his warhorse was properly cared for." My silence the rest of the meal was was enforced by my father’s warning look every time I seemed on the verge of saying anything. The dinner came to an end eventually and I escaped to my room in shame and anger. Not even an hour had passed when my father entered. "You will need to be ready to leave early in the morning. Father Simon has many pressing obligations. I do not wish you to leave with angry feelings between us." He placed his hands on my shoulders and studied my face. "William, one day, I hope, you will come to understand why I have done this. For now, please give me the benefit of the doubt and trust me when I say this is the best thing I can do for you. It will make you a better man. I will pray for your health and safety every night. I will, also, pray for your understanding and growth into the great man I see in your future." A rough squeeze and a sad smile were the last I had of my father for a long time. The friar came for me early in the morning, before anyone else was awake. He only said we had a long way to go before breakfast. That morning, I was glad my father did not see me off, for I was still angry and bitter at what I saw as an insult to my station. Now, looking back, I am glad my father was not there so he did not see how foolish and ignorant his son could be.

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