["You say you want more tales of Robin the Page?" spoke the old monk. "Well, I admit there are a number of them, for after all, Good King Henry loved Robin, as did the Blessed Queen Eleanor. Do you know the tale about how Robin stopped being the Queen's Page, and became the King's? You don't? Would you like to know it? You would? Well, then settle down, and I'll begin." as the monk queried a sky of bright young eyes, bouncing up and down in the children's nodding heads.]
It was a lovely summer in fair England, and the court left the castle's stuffy halls and ventured out to the King's lands to the West. Near the edge of the great forest they set up their pavilions and their sunshades, and while the King and his Knights taught and tested their Squires in the fighting arts, the Ladies spent the day sewing, reading, and relaxing in the summer sun. Although the Pages yearned to be with their King, they dutifully watched over the gathered Ladies, ran their errands, and enjoyed the cool summer breezes.
Now as all know, Queen Eleanor is a superb horsewoman, and she took it into her mind to teach this day her young Page in the fine arts of horsemanship.
So the Page dutifully saddled a workhorse for himself, and the Queen's Palfrey.
["But isn't Robin a girl?" cried the youngest? "Sure, and so are you. But at that time the Queen felt it best to keep Robin's secret to herself. Now hush up while I tell the tale."]
As the Page was working, the Queen told her Ladies that a riding lesson was about to happen, and that they would be back by the tolling of None. And so Blessed Queen Eleanor and her young Page rode out into the forest, away from the gathered court.
As the Queen and her Page rode along, the Queen taught the Page how to control the horse, how to use her legs to signal the horse a riding command, and the different gaits that the well-trained horse could do. They had been riding for the good part of an hour, with the Queen paying more attention to the seat of her young charge then where her mare took her, when a low-hanging branch swept the Queen from her mount, and knocked her cold.
Quickly the young Page dismounted, and tried to restore her Queen to consciousness. Robin was trying to decide whether to stay and guard the Queen, or to ride for help, when fate made the decision for her. For there in the clearing ahead was a she-lion, and she was quite upset. The lion started to approach the fallen Queen, and the horses quickly ran out of sight.
[ "Why are you calling her a her, now?" asked the youngest. "Because she's alone now, and no one is around to care. Now pay attention!"]
Knowing that she was the only chance the Queen had to survive, Robin picked up a long stick, and started to wave it back and forth in front of the angry lioness. And she started to pray, asking her patron St. Stephanie to intercede for her with the Lord, and save the Queen.
Now it just so happened that St. Stephanie was enjoying an idle moment in heaven, and so when she heard the prayer, she quickly reacted. "Oh Lord, look upon your servant Robin with favor, help her protect her Queen, and although she asks nothing for herself, please spare her life for my sake."
The Lord, already knowing what St. Stephanie was asking, and looking down on poor Robin with favor, sent an idea into the Lioness' brain. "Wolf!" thought the Lioness; "my cubs are in danger!" and quickly the Lioness ran to her kits, where she found them safe, awake, and hungry. As she began to nurse them, the Lord laid a deep sleep over her, and Robin was safe.
But Robin was not aware of what had taken place, she only knew the Lioness had run away, and might come back at any time. So Robin stayed on guard over her Queen, and prayed for a rescue.
When None had passed and the Queen had not come back, the Ladies in Waiting got worried, and approached the King and his Knights. The King acted swiftly, and sent out search parties to cover the forest and nearby fields.
It was but the work of ten minutes to find the fallen pair, and soon the Queen and her Page were safely back within the King's sight.
"How did this happen?" asked Good King Henry to all within earshot; "Why did the Page not run to fetch help?"
"The Page guarded me well, and without my Page I would likely be feeding some great bear's cubs tonight!" replied the Queen.
Good King Henry heard these words, and while the birds chattered sweetly to him in the trees above, he stepped down off his horse, and embraced the startled Page. "More likely a lion," said the King to his Lady; "but that scarcely matters." And turning to look again at the Page he continued; "I need a good Page, to replace my old one who has gone on to be a squire. May I have your Robin for my Page?" The King asked his Lady.
The Queen smiled, for she knew that although her Page was polite and dutiful, Robin yearned to learn the fighting arts, and to one day serve her King as a Knight. "Yes, if Robin agrees" replied the Queen.
Robin looked confused, she earnestly wanted to serve the King, but did not want to leave her mentor and friend. "If I may have your permission, Milady" stammered young Robin, "I would like to serve my King."
The King laughed, and told the reluctant Page "You MUST be my personal Page, for by tradition the bravest Page is taught by me, and you are he!"
"No" responded the Queen to her Lord, "He is not."
"What?" the King asked his Noble Queen, "if not him, then who is the bravest?"
"He is not the bravest Page" continued the Queen, "SHE IS!"
ByCopyright © 2004, Daniel A. Thompson, Jr.
Roger of Belden Abbey
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