A Lovers' Quest

He is bravest among all the knights in the land.
Born a commoner, he was fated to serve in the infantry,
but fate in battle positioned him to fight at the king’s hand,
where his valor helped carry the day, as the king did see.

His reward was to be trained as a knight. His exploits soon
earned him great fame, followed by a place at the royal court,
where his presence caused quite a stir; the randy ladies did swoon.
But he remained virtuous; not one tryst could any lady report.

Pure of heart, pure of spirit - the king appointed him to protect
the princess, the sole royal offspring surviving the black death
that ravaged the land. No male heirs - the king’s health suspect -
the plan is for a union of kingdoms by marriage of dear Elizabeth.

Our knight attends the Princess Elizabeth as his duty demands.
Neither intends to fall in love, but their attraction has a life
of its own. It’s folly! Blood blue and blood red cannot withstand
the wrath of her father. Only a king can ever take her as his wife!

A lingering glance, an accidental touch of hand - their love
flames and burns, until the princess tells her father of her passion.
The knight’s life is spared only because his actions are above
reproach. However, for their love, the king has no compassion.

The knight is imprisoned. The princess is sent under heavy
escort to meet and marry her betrothed so that their two
neighboring kingdoms will merge and be ruled as one eventually.
She has no voice in this. As the king decrees, she must do.

Two days pass before the knight is released. He then heads west
in pursuit of his love, the fair princess. He rides day and night,
eager to find Elizabeth. To see her one more time becomes his quest.
To save her from a loveless marriage - surely this would be right!

The princess travels west for three days, never being left alone,
always closely guarded. She grows more desperate, but her least
movement away from the troupe draws rebuke. She is shown
respect, but is captive. In the dead of night, she escapes, heads east.

Come dawn, she hears the sound of pursuit, not far behind her now.
At the river, she hesitates, then jumps in, letting the current carry
her downstream for miles. Struggling, she makes the bank somehow.
Exhausted, she requires rest, but knows she has little time to tarry.

Wet, weary, she fashions a bed of leaves, on which she falls asleep.
Jostled, she awakens with a start, surrounded by a grisly band
of brigands and thieves. “A fancy lady! This is one we’ll keep.”
Captive again, she is carried toward their camp in a hidden glen.

Suddenly, she sees him, her knight, blocking the trail, sword in hand.
“What can he do? He’s only one man. We number as thick as leaves,”
the thieves boast. As his sword deftly flashes, no number of thieves can
stand before him. They scatter to the wind. The princess gets a reprieve.

Melting into each other’s arms, they fall into their first sweet kiss.
“We must hurry away, for the soldiers escorting you must be near.”
They travel cautiously, since the sight of such a pair is hard to miss.
That night at a farmhouse, they accept the use of a barn in the rear.

The two lovers decide their fate lies together, in love, in marriage.
In that barn two virgins gain knowledge, to awaken in each other’s
arms, smiling at the newborn day. A commotion outside! A carriage
and the king’s own royal guard await. “My love, I fear that another

fight for our love impends. This is one that I shall be unable to win.”
Together they step outside. The knight stands with sword ready, she
staying close behind him. The captain of the royal guard slowly begins
to advance, draws his sword, plunges it point-down, then takes a knee.

“Your father, our king, is dead. Long live your highness, Queen Elizabeth!”
In joy, the lovers embrace. “I as queen, you as my king, lovers until death.”

Harry Edward Gilleland      01.08.03