The Green Knight by P-Summersdale


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									The Green Knight

Author: Vera Chapman

Age Group: 12-18

A magical glimpse into the legendary age of Arthurian chivalry. Meet a daring damosel from the Golden
Age, a brave, fearless woman of whom stories were told and legends woven. Vivian is the fifteen year old
grand-niece of the Lady Morgan le Fay, whose tale is inextricably linked with that of Sir Gawain le Jeune,
the nephew of that great Gawain, one of King Arthur’s most stalwart Knights... Knightly chivalry is beset
by Dark Age barbarity in this richly woven tapestry of heroes and heroines, monsters and saints,
temptresses and magicians.

We turned our horses and rode into that
terrible dark wood — the Lady Morgan le
Fay, myself, her fifteen-year-old niece, and
the four silent serving-men that followed us.
I had never been in so dark a wood before.
Indeed, I had never been in any wood
before — since up to an hour back, I had
lived, as far as I could remember, in the
quiet, safe, sunny retreat of the convent
at Amesbury; and now I was going into
this . . .
The horses’ hoofs made no sound on the
soft pine-needles. It was so dark that at fi rst
I could see nothing at all; then as my sight
cleared, the fi rst thing I saw was a little thin
yellow snake, hanging head downwards from
a branch, right on a level with my eyes — and
its head and face were that of a tiny little
woman. I cried out and crossed myself.
‘Don’t do that,’ came my aunt’s voice,
low, level and severe. She pointed a fi nger
at the woman-headed snake and it coiled itself up like a spring above us, and we left
it. But the whole wood was full of things, all
rustling and stirring and peering with bright
eyes — little birds were everywhere, but
not only birds — squirrels and stoats, and
what else? The wood was all of fi rs or pines,
with no lighter trees or undergrowth — only
the endless brown trunks, and the webs of
spindly dead twigs that fringe the lower parts
of fi r-trees where nobody comes. Presently
I saw that some of the small animals were
not animals but tiny brown men, scuttling
among the dead branches. Some were part
men and part animals, squirrels with little
human heads and arms, or birds with odd
beaky human faces. They frightened me, but
now I dared not cross myself.
‘Why do you concern yourself with those
things?’ my aunt said, without looking round.
‘They are quite normal and natural here
— they are even vulgar. If you want marvels
I will show you better ones presently.’
She was really my great-aunt, my only
living relative as far as I knew. I am Vivian,
the daughter of Blaisine, who was the
daughter of Vivian called Nimue. This Vivian-
Nimue had been the youngest of the three
witchy daughters of the beautiful Ygraine of
Cornwall — Morgause, the Queen of Orkney,
and Morgan le Fay being the other two. But Ygraine was also the mother of King Arthur
by Uther Pendragon, so I am some sort of kin
to King Arthur. Also I suppose there is witch
blood in me, though I thought by the time
it came to me it must have run rather thin.
But I did not know then who my grandfather
My mother had died when I was born,
and my father had died fi ghting for King
Arthur, so as far back as I could remember
my home had been with the kind nuns
at Amesbury. A peaceful place, and still
is; our poor Guinevere has found peace
there at last, after all she has been
through — but this isn’t Guinevere’s story,
thank God, but mine. No one ever came to
see me there but the Lady Morgan le Fay,
and she was an exciting though rather
disturbing relative to have. And then one
day — the very day before this story
opens — she had descended upon us, and
told the Lady Abbess that she had come
to take me home with her. She did not say
where, nor yet why.

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