Between the Cant and the Greta rivers there is a castle. In it lived a great chief, a warlord who was a King in his own right. His name was Bernard Maltravers and his success was due to his ability to not only fight, but to think. Maltravers lived like a king and one of the joys of his kingly life in the castle was the company of his ‘court Jester’, a Frenchman they called, simply, L’est. No one knew how the man had come by the name, and he never spoke if it, himself. But everyone called him by it…. except Lord Maltravers, who simply yelled out, “J’est” in a well-rehearsed parody whenever he wanted the services of his Fool.

“It’s Christmas, J’est,” he said, after the fourth measure of mead. “Should we get rid of most of the castle staff? Give them a holiday?”

L’est looked forlorn at the suggestion. He knew that if his wilful lord put the plan into action, he, the Jester, would end up doing most of the duties, such as cooking and cleaning, instead of what he was good at: intelligent and witty conversation – and provoking his master to just the right degree. However, Lord Maltravers had insisted that L’est join him in two of the goblets of mead and he was less in control of his mouth than usual… so he replied, “Why not, my Lord. In fact, why not break with tradition, altogether, and invite the local peasants into the rooms of the castle, they can abide with us throughout the season, truly making it one of goodwill to all men…”

Lord Maltravers had a short temper, which the excess of mead did little to ameliorate, so he ran the Fool through with his long sword.

As he died by the fireplace, L’est thought of the idea of peasants, happily living in the castle… he used all of his will to form the image into a spoken and enduring curse, letting it escape into the air and the stone of the castle as his last breath filled the space.


Lester Atkinson, standing in front of the estate agent’s window in the centre of Kendal and drenched by the spray from passing cars, had no idea why he had been drawn to the central panel of opulent properties, nor why he was having trouble suppressing his jollity.

“Take that,” he muttered, laughing aloud.

A passing woman looked at him accusingly.

“What did you say?”

“I really have no idea,” said Lester, walking his uncontrolled mirth away before it could do him any more harm. “But Merry Christmas, anyway.”

©Stephen Tanham

This is entirely a work of fiction… apart from the Estate Agent’s window.

Happy Christmas….

11 Comments on “Cant and Greta

  1. I guess the right thing to say in these circumstances would be to “Be careful what you wish. . .” Wishing you and your family and loved ones the very best life has to offer today, tomorrow and all the days that follow. Anne always and thank you all so much for bring such quality to my life through the studies and the many posts I am lucky to follow.

    Liked by 1 person

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