“God has sent us a boy to die?
Are no men of a mind to try?
Will the women and children do
what was meant as a task for you?”
The Fool, with fallen crest, does not return
her gaze; here there are secrets yet to learn.
“I am Sir Trefor, and God is my lot;
from Merlin I come on a perilous plot.
Though I have no clear plan and I know not his scheme,
I will not say the service of God is a dream.”
Columba looks in shock, and then thinks twice;
Sir Trefor is a living sacrifice.
“Deal him not doubting, dear!
Heaven has sent him here.
Though we are wrapped in fear,
with God we go.
Hope in the help we’re sent;
power the Fay have lent.
What they have planned and meant,
we cannot know.”
“Though I love you, I wish you would
be the man that I know you could!
If this boy saves our country fair,
yet our shame will exceed compare!
Even Percy has tried to hide -
lost in forests of fear and pride.
Oh! If strangers our tale should hear,
we’ll be known as the folk of fear!”
“Here in this kingdom, no refuge have I;
for neither to forest nor sea can I fly.
For as long as I’m seen in the form of a knight,
I must act like a man, and be ready to fight.”
The girl accepts the premise Trefor states;
but on her cheeks, tears trickle forth in spates.
“If we have neither plans nor hope,
best foot forward, and learn to cope.
On the road to the castle door,
we will find what you’re sent here for.”
Abrupt, Columba turns towards the lane;
that boys should fight for men’s against the grain.
Sir Trefor gets the mare, and steers her course -
too tall for him to mount, the great grey horse.
“What is the cause of her anger and rage?
And why does she ask of a Fool war to wage?
For I see you are lovers, and love leads to loth
that is only a sign of the depth of your troth.”
The Fool looks not at Trefor, but the ground;
with whispered words he barely makes a sound.
“Once I was young and glad.
But through disaster sad
others believe me mad,
or shrink in fear.
What my sad weakness be,
likely as not, you’ll see;
for it has haunted me
for many a year.”
They follow in Columba’s steady tread,
for fearless walks she all her ways on earth;
and though their lord has robbed the land of mirth,
she holds that all who hope to live are dead.
Her creed is live to hope, not hope to live;
and patient bravery is all her heart -
the faith to take up life, or else depart;
but not an inch of ground to evil give.
A woman made without the strength of men,
from such as her do men find strength to fight;
the faithful, steadfast love that leads them right,
and win or lose, receives them back again.
She knows that overcoming is not hers;
but neither death nor life her hope deters.
Ever we men fear loss; we hope to win;
all of the strength God gave, we glory in.
And knowing ours is might, and force, and pow’r,
we wield our arms and will to win the hour.
Why would we fight so hard, or struggle long,
if in our hearts we knew no woman’s song?
Theirs is to master loss, and face their lot;
to find the strength to do what we cannot,
and bravely face the world in which they live -
whatever it may send; whate’er it give.
The road now winds between exultant trees
with tow'ring trunks that thrust from out the earth.
Nature gone crazy gifting greater girth;
abundant birds are twittering in the breeze.
The girl stops still, and gleaming, lifts her arm;
out of the boughs and hedges, through the sky,
the pigeon, thrush and blackbird swoop and fly
to settle there on kind Columba, calm.
It is her gift; her father taught her love
for little creatures, vested in his care;
the Fay rejoiced in her, and blessings rare
they gave the girl whose name recalled the dove.
Columba blesses them; and they depart
with singing that would warm the coldest heart.
Sir Trefor looks, but reaches no decision;
wonders again why fleeting finds his eye
a castle, then a hovel, quite nearby;
which of the two is real, or merely vision?
He tells his friends; Columba laughs like light.
“Often I’ve seen it so; a hovel, true!
Compared to all the hope and love we knew,
and by the Fairy Sight you see things right.
For all it is was built with spill of blood,
for no-one’s safety, save Sir Robert’s own;
within he sits secure on Lionel’s throne,
else all would fall upon him like a flood.”
“Truly I see it not,” replied the Fool.
“But he has made us grovel through his rule.”
They paused. Sir Trefor said, “We have no plan;
let us instead place faith in God who sends.
He will award us words to meet his ends.”
- the first time Trefor spoke out like a man.
The change in him was clear to girl and Fool;
now that he faced his fatal foe at last,
much of the stuff of childhood fell, and passed -
prepared, for God, to challenge Robert’s rule.
Silent they faced the road they walked anew,
and finally went winding up the hill.
It seemed the very air began to chill.
“God give them questions we have answers to.”
Thus spake the Fool, and spoke the thoughts of all;
once more they wound around the castle wall.
Before them, high white walls ate up the sky;
a drawbridge lay across the wide, dry moat.
But as they came, it raised, as if to gloat,
impassable, their passage to deny.
“Who comes?” shouts loud a guard from yonder tower;
he does not need to wonder, friend or foe.
Heavy outnumbered those who stand below,
and this is nought but glorying in power.
“Here stands, by grace of God, a knight most brave,
that travels far from Arthur’s court to seek
Sir Robert, and deliver thus the meek.
Who halts him halts King Arthur. Open, knave!”
The guard looked out wide eyed at Robert’s Fool,
and went to fetch his master back to rule.