01 January 2013 @ 10:41 pm
*NaNo Project* Part the Fourth - Section the Thirteenth - Camelot 954AD  
Prince Uther’s tutor! The King had decided – because he couldn’t be bothered to go looking for someone for such a lowly member of his family – that I would do for Prince Uther’s tutor!

I had never taught anyone anything in my life! My immediate reaction was to ask why Cedas hadn’t been given that task, but I had enough sense about me not to defy the King. It would have been the end of me if I had said what I planned to say.

Cedas gave me a sympathetic look. “I’m not surprised, sire, always willing to help young Geoffrey.” He said as if I had any say in the matter!

“Now that that’s decided,” the King declared. “Ambrosius will take you to meet Uther.” The look he gave his brother was certainly not one I’d ever like directed at me, but far from being intimidate Prince Ambrosius actually lingered for a few moments in defiance of his brother and King’s orders.

He walked over to me and with no sign of recognition on his face told me to follow him and hurry up because he didn’t have all day.

I gave Cedas a despairing look, wondering if I would ever get to return to my duties in the map room, it didn’t seem likely. This wasn’t what I wanted at all! I wanted to be an academic not a teacher! I didn’t even know how to be a teacher! And what if the child hated me? I had no experience with young children having had no siblings. How did you even speak to one of them? Not like you would another adult surely? But at the same time I was quite sure being overly patronising wasn’t that good of a strategy either.

I wanted to ask Prince Ambrosius about his son, get an idea of what this boy was like before I met him, but of course, I couldn’t.

And there were other issues that loomed, what exactly would happen if I proved not to be a good tutor? I had been roped into this, but I was quite certain that wouldn’t make a difference to the King. I’d probably end up in the stocks or banished for something that was no fault of my own. In fact for all I knew, the King might think it was perfectly reasonable to execute me! I had no idea how the minds of royalty worked, apart from the fact that they seemed to be feel rather entitled.

The walk to the Prince’s Royal Quarters seemed to take an eternity, but part of me didn’t want to end, that I wouldn’t have to face the realities of my new post.

It did end eventually and it seemed that all too soon I was entering the Prince’s chambers.

The Prince had not made eye contact with me yet and it seemed he wasn’t planning to, how reassuring.

I almost jumped out of my skin when the Prince bellowed. “Uther! Get in here, boy!”

Silence followed the command. I wondered if the child was staying away in protest and if so I had to admire his courage, I certainly wouldn’t disobey such a command.

The Prince all ready deep scowl became even deeper and he shouted for his son again.

Still nothing.

He was just about to roar again, which probably would have shaken the walls if he’d done so when suddenly the door on the other side of the room was thrown open, but it wasn’t Prince Uther who appeared, but a woman, the Prince’s wife and she didn’t look pleased at all.

“What are you screaming about this time?” She snapped.

“Where is Uther? I’ve got his tutor here.”

The Princess, who’s name I couldn’t remember looked at me with something that was bordering on disgust, I wondered briefly if I had something on my tunic because I couldn’t imagine inspiring such a reaction otherwise. But a surreptitious look at my clothing showed that it was clean.

“So a child is going to teach your son,” she finally demanded and I almost protested, but I wisely kept my mouth shut.

“The King,” Prince Ambrosius practically spat, “ordered me, I could hardly say no.”

“You could have looked for someone yourself, anyone else would have done.”

Prince Ambrosius ground his teeth. “Or perhaps you could have, he’s your son probably more than he is mine.”

I shifted uncomfortably, ending up in the middle of a private dispute was the last thing I wanted, but there really wasn’t any way for me to extract myself.

The Princess’s eyes narrowed and she set her jaw and it looked for a moment the argument was going to descend into even worse territory, but fortunately she held her tongue.

“Uther isn’t here, which you probably should have realised when he didn’t come the first time you screamed. He’s at the stables, where he always is.” With one last withering glare, although I couldn’t tell if it was directed at me or Prince Ambrosius, she left the room.

The Prince commanded me to follow him once more and we headed directly for the stables where rather than go looking for his son personally, the Prince sent a servant to fetch him.

It was an awkward wait standing beside the still fuming Prince waiting for his son to arrive. I may not have wanted to be a tutor, but if it got me away from this situation I might find it more palatable.

The servant returned with a boy in tow and I have to admit, Prince Ambrosius’s comment to his wife about Prince Uther being more her son made quite a bit of sense. The boy was the spitting image of her really, with light brown curly hair and large green eyes. He did at least look rather less sullen that either of his parents, in fact he actually looked curious.

“Father,” he spoke in a faltering voice and gave a cautious bow.

Prince Ambrosius made a rather inelegant sound rather like a grunt, then waved a hand in my direction. “You’ve finally been assigned a tutor, boy, this is Godfrey.”

I was about to correct him, but stopped myself just in time, I’d correct the mistake with Prince Uther later.

The young prince looked up at me with a puzzled look upon his face.

I gave my own little bow, it was strange having to bow to a small boy, but there you had it.

And Prince Uther was a small boy, the King had said he was seven, but he seemed a lot younger than that. He also didn’t look particularly royal, but of course that was probably because he’d been in the stables and playing in haystacks by the looks of it. It was rather amusing.

“The King has ordered him to teach you, so you’ll accord him the respect necessary and follow his orders to the letter, do you understand me.”

Prince Uther nodded. “Yes, Father.”

“Good,” the Prince grunted and the lack of anything like affection is his tone hit me. He seemed to have no sentimentality towards his son at all, in fact his voice was almost icy. He turned to me and snapped. “At the very least don’t make him any more ignorant than he is now.”

And with that he strode off and I caught the briefest flicker of a trembling lower lip on Prince Uther’s face. I can’t say I blamed the child, I couldn’t imagine my father ever speaking to me in such a manner. I couldn’t imagine any father doing so...

I decided it best not to draw attention to it, not that it was any of my business of course. Instead I decide to ignore it entirely and introduce myself properly.

“Good morning, I’m Geoffrey of Monmouth-“ I began.

“Father said your name was Godfrey,” Prince Uther interrupted.

“Well, His Highness was...er....mistaken.” I paused and wondered if that was an acceptable thing to say.

Prince Uther looked up at me for a moment then gave a shrug. “Father gets names wrong all the time.”

I breathed a sigh of relief, at least the boy wasn’t going to go telling his father that I had presumed to correct a Prince, but I certainly wasn’t going to spend however long being Godfrey.

“You don’t look very old,” Prince Uther said, looking at me with a critical eye. “Have you tutored lots of children before?”

“Er...no, you’re the first.” Once I said it I wondered at the wisdom of doing so, surely I was doing myself no favours letting the child know all was new to all this. I hope he wouldn’t take it as an invitation to get away with murder, that was I needed.

Prince Uther didn’t immediately take on an air of defiance, so that was good, he did though look rather dejected.

“I don’t know what I need a tutor for, it’s not like I’m ever going to be important in Camelot. Father tells me so all the time.”

I had to wonder at this mean streak in Prince Ambrosius, the man certainly didn’t seem to care much about his family, with the way he spoke to his wife and now rather than encourage his son he seemed to go out of his way to put him down.

It was all very strange, but I decided that I wouldn’t attempt to offer any consolation, it could only end badly I was sure.

“Right!” I said brightly, clapping my hands together and changing the subject. “So have you had any education at all yet?”

The prince gave a shrug. “I know all about armour.”

Of course he did, princes always seemed to.

“That’s...er...nice, but do you know how to read or basic arithmetic, any of that nature.”

Prince Uther looked somewhat affronted by the question. “Of course I know how to count, I’m not a dunce.”

“Well, how about multiplication or division?” I prompted.

“What’s that?”

Right, it looked like I was going to have a rather difficult task on my hands...of course, when life threw you such tasks it rarely made it easy.

“Do you know how to read? Or write?”

“I know how to write my name, and Uncle King’s name, and Mother and Father’s names. I even know how to write the Queen’s and Cousin Kentigern’s names.” The prince boasted proudly. “And Pendragon...and Camelot.”

“Right.” I replied slowly, knowing that chances were the prince knew how to draw the names rather than actually read and write them with any level of recognition. “Well, you can learn to read and write a lot more that.”

If I expect the prince to be excited or interested in that information I was surely disappointed, if anything Prince Uther looked incredulous. “Why would I need to? They’re the important people in Camelot.”

“So they are, but just having their names isn’t really...well...wouldn’t you like to be able to write a letter to them? If you were ever away from home?”

Prince Uther frowned, at the very least he seemed willing to consider this, but he ended up simply shrugging. “I could just send a messenger.”

I heaved a rather irritated sigh that was true I supposed, but that wasn’t point. “I’m sure they’ll come a time when you’ll be required to read something and write a response to it, besides the King has asked me to tutor you, so…”

Prince Uther huffed, crossed his arms and pouted at me, actually pouted, it would have been amusing in its ridiculousiness if I wasn’t worried about the possibility of him refusing to come along and me having to explain to the King why I had failed at my task.

“I promise it won’t be as bad as you’re thinking,” I tried to reason with the boy, although seeing as he was only seven I wasn’t sure if that was being a little to optimistic. “And it’s not like you will be studying all day,” I recalled my own lessons with learning to read and write. “They’ll be plenty of breaks.”

Prince Uther looked at me suspiciously as if he didn’t quite believe it. “Really? I’ll still be able to go and see the horses and the armouring and the knights training.”

All those sounded like they’d take quite a lot of time, but I couldn’t really say ‘no’. “Of course.”

“Well...all right.” Prince Uther replied magnanimously and I only just managed not to roll my eyes. Really, royalty.

And with that settled it was time for me to wonder just exactly how I was supposed to do this, it was true that I often thought of the lessons that lead to me being able to read and write, but I really had no idea how exactly I was taught. It was after all some eight years ago. What if I completely failed at this? I didn’t want to think about it.

Fortunately, the tutoring sessions would take place in the library so when I saw Cedas behind the desk as usual I immediately made a beeline to him.

“Cedas,” I hissed not wanting to let Uther overhear me, he had wandered away looking about at the shelves as if he had entered some foreign land. “Help.”

Cedas looked up, raising his eyebrows. “Help, with what?”

I blinked at him, it wasn’t obvious? “The tutoring! I’ve never tutored in my entire life! How could the King have asked me to do this?”

Cedas sighed removing his glasses in order to polish them. “Honestly, Geoffrey, I don’t think the King has particularly high expectations for this, but you heard what he said, he wants the boy to get a decent education so as not to embarrass the family as a whole.”

“I don’t even know if I can do decent!” I protested. “He doesn’t even have a fundamental grasp on reading and writing! I don’t know how to teach that!”

Cedas waved a hand. “Don’t sell yourself short, you’ll do fine, get some interesting book, probably one about knights and start with that, get the boy to start recognising words and it’ll all go from there.”

I sincerely doubted it would be that easy, but what could I do? Nothing but follow Cedas’s advice. Fortunately it was pretty easy to find a book on the Green Knight, what with all the shelving I had done and once I had it in hand I called Prince Uther over.

“Does anyone actually read all these?” He gestured vaguely about him.

“Well, not all of them,” I had to admit, “but various people use the library and they need to look up different things. Having a wide collection means that’s possible, for example.” I brandished the book. “I found something about the Green Knight, have you ever heard of him?”

“Of course I have!” The Prince appeared insulted that I even asked.

I considered for a moment then decided this might be of benefit, although I hoped that the Prince wouldn’t find the text too boring, it looked to be a rather serious book, but then that didn’t necessary mean it was bad.

“Well, I happen to have found a book on him and his feats, I’m sure you’d enjoy learning to read that.” My tone may have been slightly pleading.

The Prince eyed the book skeptically, but finally gave a nod. “I guess it won’t be so boring.”

I breathed a sigh of relief and lead him to over to one of the tables scattered here and there about the library, then I fetched some parchment and some quills and invited him to sit down.

“You said you can write a few things? Can you show me?” I asked handing him a quill and pushing the parchment over to his side of the table.

The prince did so, happy it seemed to have a chance to show off that particular talent. But it was as I suspect, he wasn’t actually writing the words, he was drawing them.

“Good, that’s good.” I said once he’d finished (well I could hardly say otherwise!) then I decided to do a little test, picking up the other quill I wrote a few words on another piece of parchment then slid it over to the prince.

He looked at the paper than at me.

“Can you recognise any of the letters?” I asked. I had made sure to write the words clearly and all of them contained letters that were in the names he knew.

He frowned and leaned over the parchment before finally starting to pick out letters, or as he knew them shapes.

A ‘u’ was described as ‘the letter at the start of my name’ and an ‘n’ as one ‘at the end of Pendragon’. It was clear the prince had no concept of what the letters actually symbolised, but I had hope that he could learn. After all, I was certain if he paused and thought about it, he’d realise that the letter at the start of his name was a ‘u’ and we could go from there.

I had no idea if that was how I had learned to read and write, but it was the only way I could think of doing it now.

With any luck I wouldn’t make a complete ass of myself.
 
 
Current Mood: pessimistic