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The Curious Tale Of The Monk, The Knight And The Spanish Onion

Page Two

Ten years later the same knight set off to journey to the next round of Crusades. As night fell he reached the same inn, in the same village as before. The same landlord apologised profusely for the inn being full up, “It’s these Crusades you see, Sir. Every bed in the place is occupied by one of your fellow knights on his way to the Holy Land.” Just as before, The knight found himself heading off along the road towards the monastery. He knocked on the door and waited for the monk on duty in the lodge house to open the grill. When he did so the knight said, “I’m on my way to the Crusades. There’s no room at the inn in the village. Can you give me a bed for the night?”

The monk peered at him through the grill. “I think I recognise you, Sir Knight. You’ve stayed here before, have you not?”

“Indeed I have, Brother. It was ten years ago when I was on my way to the last Crusade.”

“Ah, yes, I remember now. You shared with Brother Ambrose, didn’t you? Well, just as long as you don’t mind sharing with Brother Ambrose once more we can certainly accommodate you." The knight assured the doorkeeper monk that sharing with Brother Ambrose would be fine and, his horse having been taken care of, he soon found himself being escorted through the same corridors and cloisters as before. In due course they arrived at the door of Brother Ambrose’s cell and the knight went in. As before, Brother Ambrose was already in bed and appeared to be asleep so the knight got himself ready for bed as quietly as he could.

Now, Brother Ambrose had indeed been asleep but the noise of his cell door opening had roused him and he watched through half open eyes as the knight entered his cell and prepared for a well deserved sleep. Brother Ambrose, it has to be said, was one of the older members of the community and his memory was not as sharp as it once had been. He didn’t recognise the knight straightaway and in any case he had more or less forgotten their previous encounter. Forgotten it, that is, until the knight delved into his kitbag, produced an onion, sliced it in two with his sword, placed one half under each arm, jumped into bed and immediately fell asleep.

“Damn!” said Brother Ambrose to himself. Well, he didn’t actually say ‘damn’, of course, but he certainly felt very much like saying ‘damn’ and he would have done had he not remembered, just in time, that he was a monk. His memory was certainly working now and the events of ten years ago were swirling around in his head. Once again he found himself puzzling over the knight’s strange behaviour and, as before, he failed to come up with an explanation. Just as he had done ten years previously Brother Ambrose resolved to wake up really early the following morning so that he could question the knight about his odd behaviour. He knew that this time he would have to be sure to be awake before the new day dawned. In the gloom he reached for his hourglass alarm and set it to wake him at a quarter to dawn.

A few short hours later Brother Ambrose awoke to find the room still in total darkness. He had done it! He had woken up before dawn! He sat up and peered across the room. It was too dark to see anything so he got out of bed and was about to tiptoe across to the knight’s bed when he heard the cock crowing out in the monastery chicken run and, simultaneously, the first golden ray of sunlight hauled itself over the windowsill and dropped onto the floor. It was sufficient for Brother Ambrose to see that the knight’s bed was empty and his kitbag was gone. From outside came the sound of galloping hooves. Brother Ambrose stumbled to the window just in time to see the knight and his horse riding off to the Crusades. This time Brother Ambrose really did say, "Damn!"

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