The Lioness and Her Knight (Squire's Tales) (Squire's Tales)

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9780753414293: The Lioness and Her Knight (Squire's Tales) (Squire's Tales)

No sooner does Luneta leave home to visit King Arthur’s Court than she gets swept up in adventure, romance, betrayal, and more than a little bit of magic.

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About the Author:

When Gerald Morris was in fifth grade he loved Greek and Norse mythology and before long was retelling the stories to his younger sister and then to neighborhood kids. He began carrying a notebook in which he kept some of the details related to the different stories. The joy he found in retelling those myths continued when he discovered other stories. According to Gerald Morris, "I never lost my love of retelling the old stories. When I found Arthurian literature, years later, I knew at once that I wanted to retell those grand tales. So I pulled out my notebook . . . I retell the tales, peopling them with characters that I at least find easier to recognize, and let the magic of the Arthurian tradition go where it will." Gerald Morris lives in Wausau, Wisconsin, with his wife and their three children. In addition to writing he serves as a minister in a church.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

As soon as Luneta heard her father come in the side door from the fields, she
hurried to the upstairs sitting room. She had discovered just recently that if
she closed her eyes and listened very intently at the chimney in this room,
she could hear everything that was said in her mother's parlor, which was
directly below. Today not having gone well, she suspected that her mother
would have some things to say.
Sure enough, seconds after directing her ears toward the fireplace, Luneta
heard her mother say sharply, "It's going to be either her or me, Gary. I don't
know if I can take it any longer. You're going to come back some evening
and find yourself childless."
"Wait a moment," Luneta's father drawled in his calm voice. "I'm sensing
something. An aura of some sort. I see . . . I see . . . wait, it's coming . . .
you and Luneta have been having a row."
"Shut up, Gary," Luneta's mother replied, but her voice was less strident.
Luneta grinned to herself. It was hard for anyone, even her mother, to
maintain a snit in the face of her father's unruffled good humor. "Your
daughter is willful, stubborn, disrespectful of her elders, and rebellious."
"Very disturbing," Luneta's father replied placidly. "I can't imagine where
children pick these things up."
"Gary," Luneta's mother said in a silken voice, "if you're implying something
about your beloved wife—"
"Oh, no, not that one. I was thinking of you."
There was a brief pause. Then Luneta's mother sighed loudly and said, "You
are very annoying and not at all funny, but thank you anyway. I'm over the
worst of it now. But I still don't know what I'm going to do with her. I know
that I never spoke to my mother as she speaks to me."
"My dear Lynet, the cases are hardly the same. Luneta's sixteen years old.
Your mother died when you were tiny and never had the pleasure of
encountering you at that age."
"Perhaps, but I wouldn't have—"
"Less of it, my love! Remember that I met you when you were exactly
Luneta's age, and I remember nothing demure about you. As I recall, you
took my sword away from me and stole my supper."
"It was burned anyway, and at least I never called you names. Gary, what
does porcella mean?"
There was a slight pause. Luneta hunched her shoulders slightly, waiting for
her father's response. "Did Luneta call you porcella?"
"Yes."
"How . . . how gratifying that she's keeping up her Latin studies. I thought
that she had abandoned them."
"Don't change the subject. What does porcella mean?"
"I believe it means 'woman with shining eyes.'"
"Gary, you are the worst liar I have ever heard."
"Well, it's better than being a good liar, isn't it?" Luneta's father continued, a
bit hurriedly. "Look, Lynet, I don't know a whole lot about mothers and their
nearly grown-up daughters. My only sister died when she was thirteen, and
my own mother wasn't all that typical anyway—"
"You might say that," Luneta's mother interjected dryly. "And while you're at
it, you might include your grandmother and your aunt. You don't have a
normal female in your family."
"Yes, I've often thought that," Luneta's father agreed. "But as I was about to
say, I have sometimes noticed in other families that a certain amount of
friction is to be expected between mothers and daughters."
"I might expect it, but that doesn't mean I have to accept it," she said
sharply. "And I won't. Gary, if you could hear the way she speaks to me . . ."
She trailed off with an angry sigh.
"I believe you, Lynet. And I even agree that it's unacceptable. I'll go talk to
her, but I can't imagine that it will help for me just to tell her that she ought to
be a good girl. We need to have a plan."
"What do you mean?"
"It's your own idea, actually. Your very first words to me this evening
were 'It's her or me.' By the way, that wasn't strictly correct. What you
should have said was 'It is she or I," since one uses the nominative case
following the verb of existence."
"What?"
"You learn these things when you study Latin."
Luneta's mother's voice was dangerously calm. "What plan, Gary?"
"Send Luneta away."
There was a long pause from downstairs, and upstairs Luneta sank slowly to
her knees before the fireplace. She could hardly believe her father's words.
Neither could her mother.
"You can't mean that, Gary. She may be the most irritating little wench alive,
but—"
"I don't mean drop her off at the foundling hospital, Lynet. I just wonder if she
needs to get away from you, ah, from her parents for a while. Go for a visit.
I've already been wondering about sending her to visit family, but I couldn't
think of any suitable family members. All of my brothers live bachelors' lives,
except for Gareth, who's married to your sister—"
"And my sister's an idiot."
"Yes. There's Morgan, but I can't really think she's suitable."
"She isn't."
"And that's as far as I've gotten. I believe it would do our lovely daughter good
to get away and see the rest of the world a bit, but I can't think where. Do
you have any friends who might be interested in having a young houseguest?
Not someone too old, but someone we could trust?"
Luneta was hardly able to believe what she was hearing, as her initial feelings
of dismay changed to a growing excitement. For more than a year she had
been yearning to get away from her family's estate, which—as noble and
honorable as it was—was at the far northern edge of civilized society.
Actually, her dream had been to go to King Arthur's court at Camelot, but
any court where there were ladies-in-waiting and courtiers and balls and
banquets would be better than Orkney Hall, where her father rode over the
estate wearing a plain leather jerkin just like the field hands and where her
mother drove out nearly every day in a shabby cart pulled by a fat pony to
visit one or another of their tenants. You would never guess, looking at the
simple life that her parents led, that they were both of noble blood. Indeed,
her father was himself a knight of King Arthur's Round Table—Sir Gaheris of
Orkney—and brother to the famous Sir Gawain, but neither her father or
mother had ever shown the slightest interest in court life. They had visited
Camelot rarely and never stayed long. Luneta held her breath, waiting for her
mother's reply.
"Maybe," Luneta's mother said at last. Her voice was not encouraging,
though. "Don't think I'm convinced, though. She's very young to be off on her
own, yet." There was a brief pause. "Don't say it."
"I didn't say anything," Luneta's father replied mildly.
"You were about to say that I left my home at the same age, but that was
different. And, anyway, it's just because I've done it myself that I know how
dangerous it is."
"My love, I wasn't suggesting that she go off alone. We would escort her with
all due decorum, of course."
Luneta wasn't sure she liked the sound of that. The thought of being escorted
by her parents "with all due decorum" seemed very tame and stifling, but she
felt that she could put up with anything that would get her away from Orkney
Hall. She fell into deep thought, imagining life at a real castle, and ceased
listening to her parents' conversation, with the result that she didn't notice
when their voices stopped, and barely had time to leap up from the fireplace
to a chair when her father rapped twice on the door and entered.
"Oh, hello, Father," Luneta said, smiling innocently.
Her father's lips twitched. "Good evening, Luneta. How very guilty you look, to
be sure."
"Guilty?" Luneta repeated, smiling even more brightly.
Her father lowered himself into a chair opposite Luneta and said, "I hope you
haven't been trying to listen to our conversation downstairs?"
"What do you mean, Father?"
"Because it won't work. Remember that I grew up in this castle, too. My
brothers and I used to listen at that fireplace, trying to hear what my parents
were fighting about, but we could never hear more than a few choice phrases.
So you're wasting your time. By the way, you should dust the soot from your
knees."
Luneta had heard her parents' every word as clearly as if she were in the
room with them, but she decided not to mention that. She brushed off her
dress.
Her father plunged in at once. "How would you like to go away?"
"Away?" Luneta asked, feigning surprise. Luneta's father nodded, and Luneta
said, "I'd like it. I want to see the rest of the world. Do you think I could go to
King Arthur's court? The last time you took me, I was only twelve."
"Has it really been that long?" her father asked ruefully.
Luneta nodded. "I was too young to go to the ball, but I sneaked into the
minstrel's gallery and watched."
"You did what?"
"Sir Dinadan helped me. Then, when you and Mother started to leave the ball
he stopped you at the doo...

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