02 January 2013 @ 09:51 pm
*NaNo Project* Part the Fifth - Section the First - The Tutor - 954AD  
So that was how I became a tutor, not because I had any particular talent for it, indeed I had never done it, but merely by the luck of the draw.

Prince Uther wasn’t an easy student, he was intelligent, there was no doubting that, but he was also highly distractible, at the barest hint of any noise he would forget all about the lesson and want to investigate. That went double if the noise he heard happened to be of a sword blade ringing against something.

Despite various comments that the boy had no future as anything important I could well imagine him leading the Knights of Camelot, his hearing was truly exceptional.

But it did of course make educating him very difficult, the number of times we had to start over at the beginning of a particular lesson because he was suddenly distracted by something is too numerous to count.

But to my surprise, most definitely to my surprise my ad-hoc approach seemed to actually work! The Prince began to recognise letters for what they were and to string the sounds together. It was a rather plodding process really.

I feared that it would be a decade before the Prince made any real progress, so one can imagine my surprise when one day I came to the library and discovered Prince Uther running his index finger along the shelves as if he was actually looking for something.

I looked over my shoulder for Cedas, who usually didn’t allow anyone free reign amongst the shelves, but then I supposed the royal family was a special case.

“Good morning, your Highness,” I gave a somewhat clumsy bow – I didn’t think I’d ever get used to that, a courtier I certainly was not.

Prince Uther gave me a nod and went back to his searching.

I waited, wondering if I should ask what he was up to, Gaius has advised me that one didn’t question royalty, but I started to be concerned for the books as the Prince was tugging on the spines of some of them with a decided lack of care.

I gave a nervous cough and cleared my throat before finding the courage to speak up. “May I ask what you’re looking for, your Highness.”

The Prince turned to look at me with raised eyebrows and for a moment I thought he was going to call for a guard to arrest me for showing gross disrespect.

But no, instead he furrowed his brows in concentration. “Kent told me there was a book here, with all the armour that’s ever been made in it.”

Ah, well…obviously the young Prince would be interested in that, the entire royal family had a love of weaponry, the King and the Princes had almost as many swords and maces and things I didn’t even know the name of hanging on the walls as animal heads from hunting.

But I suppose we can’t all be cerebral, and as the Prince gave one rather delicate book a rather hard tug, loosening pieces of the cracked cover and sending them fluttering about.

“Er…your Highness,” I stepped forward only just managing to restrain myself from taking his arm to stop him from causing any more damage - that definitely would have been frowned upon). “Allow me to find the book for you. They’re all catalogued.”

Prince Uther looked at me quite blankly and I decided at that moment, that this was the perfect time for a lesson. A lesson in cataloguing, it was after all a subject near and dear to me, it was certainly very helpful and made life a lot easier, at least as far as I was concerned.

So I gave what was surely the greatest lecture on cataloguing, which I’m sorry to say landed on deaf ears, Prince Uther did make a show of listening but I could tell from the way he shifted his weight from foot to foot that he’d rather have the fabled book in hand than listening how it could be found.

Eventually, I conceded defeat and made my way to the front desk where Cedas was mulling over various books and parchments. He immediately got to his feet and gave Prince Uther a rather graceful bow considering his age. It was quite a sight to see actually, Cedas bowed so low his long beard almost touched the floor.

“The Prince wishes to see a particular book,” I explained to my mentor. “I felt that the catalogue would be a far better way to do it than to go through every book in the library.”

“Ah,” Cedas gave a nod. “Of course, I trust you will locate your book easily, your Highness.” He gave another bow, although the Prince was not even looking in his direction, instead he was shuffling from foot to foot, obviously desparate to get his hands on the book.

I was also somewhat skeptical that the Prince would actually find the book himself, he most certainly didn’t seem to have the patience for searching through the indexes.

I made a valiant attempt to show him how the index books worked, but I could tell by the look on his face that he wasn’t absorbing any of it at all.

In the end I located the book for the Prince, he did at least have the title and author at the work so at least he had enough attention to make note of that.

“It’s in the north east corner of the library in the third aisle, on the fifth shelf, five books along.” I explained running my finger across the text and then immediately wished I hadn’t, because the young Prince immediately turned and rushed from the back room into the library proper.


Oh God, the last thing I wanted was to be the one in charge of the Prince if he ruined anything in Camelot’s fragile archive. I hurried after him, past Cedas who looked more than a little distressed at the sight, but of course there wasn’t much he could do to stop a prince.

I didn’t actually know what I was going to do if I caught up to Prince Uther - he was very fast, but I hoped to slow him down at least…surely he’d be aware that having an adult running after him probably meant something.

Fortunately, I didn’t hear the sound of books falling, even as the Prince corned around shelves with a distinct lack of care and attention.

By time I caught up with the prince he had arrived in the right area of the library, he obviously had a very good sense of direction, as most knights did, I suppose, at least that was something I wouldn’t need to teach him. Direction was not a strong suit of mine I had to admit.

The Prince had come to a stop for one reason only, I found, his lack of height meant he could not reach the fifth shelf, so when I came up behind him I found him staring up at it with a look of accusation on his face, as if the shelves had deliberately conspired to place his much desired book out of his reach.

I was rather winded and it was a moment before I could find my voice. “You know…you mustn’t run in the library…your Highness,” I added quickly. “This is full of priceless and rare books, they need to treated with care. Sire.”

Prince Uther looked at me quite blankly, but I suppose I was lucky that he wasn’t affronted or offended by me lecturing him.

“How am I supposed to get the book?” He demanded instead, gesturing above his head. “Isn’t there a ladder or something?”

I hesitated, there was of course a ladder, but I was quite uncertain about allowing the Prince to gain access to it. One really did have to be careful with these books.

“I can get it for you, your Highness,” I assured him, which seemed to be the wrong thing to do, the boy immediately looked affronted. So much so, I think he was sorry he wasn’t wearing a gauntlet that he could throw down at my feet.

“I don’t need any help!” He snapped. “Now show me where the ladder is!”

You can hardly refuse a prince can you, so suppressing a sigh I went to look for the nearest ladder, returning to find Prince Uther waiting for me with his hands on hips and his foot tapping.

“You’re really slow, you know,” he announced, “and you don’t even look that old.”

I wondered again if I should attempt to tell him about the importance of not engaging in horseplay in a library. But I decided that it was probably useless, instead I pulled the ladder flush against the shelves and stepped back, keeping a hold of one side, just to make sure that the Prince didn’t get any ideas, like rolling it along from some…sense of fun.

Prince Uther scrambled up the ladder and running his finger along the spines of books on the fifth shelf - I hoped he had at least washed his hands that morning - before grabbing the one he had been hunting for, his eyes lighting up.

It was a very thick book and I clenched my teeth as the Prince held it tightly in his hands. He didn’t even bother to climb down the ladder, instead he jumped the last three rungs, which was enough to make me wince as he landed on the stone floor, his boots making a rather loud noise as he did.

The Prince immediately knelt on the floor, not bothering to go to a proper reading table, of course and plonking the book on the cold stone floor and throwing it open. Really, the boy didna’t have a clue how to treat books properly, but there wasn’t much I could do about it.

I waited to see what the Prince would do, particularly since I was quite certain his reading wasn’t that far advanced. The book did, of course, have the benefit of many illustrations of various armour and weaponry.

The Prince showed remarkable focus when it came to something he was actually interested in something. I was rather impressed, and I had to wonder if it was possible to transfer that to his lessons, but I didn’t hold much hope for that.

Eventually, though I grew bored of watching the Prince and tried to tactfully suggest that we move onto something else.

But who can talk back to a Prince?
 
 
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