Nanny Spencer’s Warriors

“Nanny,” I said after an extended pause, “this is a long day isn’t it?”

“The longest of the year, my treasure,” she confirmed.  “Tonight, as I’m sure you know very well, we have the Midsummer feast.”

“Seeing that it’s such a long day, nanny, do you think you could tell me a very long story?”

“Deary me!  What a request!  Well, the longest I can think of is Princess Graceland and the Warriors of Love.  But I’m sure I can’t remember it all.”

“Could you tell me the bits you do remember, nanny?  Who was Princess Graceland?”

“She lived in the once upon a time, my plum dumpling, and was the most beautiful princess in all the world.”

“Was she more beautiful than me, nanny?”

“Of course not, child!  But didn’t I say that it was the once upon a time?”

“Yes, nanny, you did.”

“It was long before you were born, sunshine girl.  Her father was Richard the Lionheart, who ruled wisely and well.  Or, at least, he did until he went to make war on the wicked folk of Surrey.”

“Was he killed in the war, nanny?”

“No he wasn’t, darling, but his bad barons spread the rumour than he had been.  And his wicked brother, Prince John, usurped the throne.”

“What does usurped mean, nanny?”

“It means, my love, that he took Richard the Lionheart’s crown for himself.  But his wickedness didn’t end there – oh, dear me, no!  He had the worst of his lords – the Baron of Knotting-Ham – kidnap Princess Graceland.  Then he sent messengers out to all the land, saying that the knights who loved the beautiful girl should embark upon a quest to rescue her.  The one who brought the princess home would marry her.”

“Why did he do that, nanny?  I mean, if he had the Baron of Knotting-Ham kidnap her, wouldn’t he have wanted her to stay kidnapped?”

“Ah, sweetheart, but it was a perilous quest, and Prince John expected the death of all the knights who joined it.  You see, it was his way of killing any valiant warriors who loved the princess and her father.”

“Were they the Warriors of Love, nanny?  I mean the knights who went on the quest for the princess?”

“That they were, my dear.  There were six of them, each loving Princess Graceland in a different way.  Sir Trueheart felt for her a noble and pure love.  But Sir Gaylord nursed a fanciful love, inspired by silly stories.”

“Like The Slave Who Would Be Good, nanny?”

“Well, my sugar pie, that is a silly story, to be sure, but not what I meant.  He’d read tales of knights rescuing damsels from the fell folk – that sort of thing…  Anyway – there was also Sir Greenwood who felt for the princess – and Richard the Lionheart, too – a subject’s loyal love for his rightful rulers.  Then there was Sir Malantor whose heart was filled with a selfish, jealous and possessive love…”

“He doesn’t sound very nice.  Did Sir Malantor truly love the princess, nanny?”

“He thought that he did, my sweet, but he had base motives.  There were two others – one was Sir Yearning who felt a suitor’s love for the princess.  That means, before you ask – inquisitive child – as how he wanted to marry her.  And the last warrior was Sir Boris, Richard the Lionheart himself in disguise, who loved Princess Graceland with a father’s love.”

“But, nanny, you said that the warrior who rescued the princess was to marry her.  A father wouldn’t marry his daughter.”

“Of course not, child – the very idea!  At least, he wouldn’t marry her in the sense of becoming her husband.  He would marry her in the sense of finding a handsome prince to wed her.  I’m sure your father, in time to come, will do the same thing for you.”

Then the Warriors of Love were feminised: