Song of Trout: Eighth Pale Knight

OIl painting cameo of repressed but worried man

 

The Folly

The Legend of the Pale Knight

 


 

Song of Trout

 

There is no harm in others underestimating one’s fortitude

Matthew Piers Trout has reason to be sure of it

Sure as he’d known, from school days, loneliness

mutate into priestly hauteur

Mysteries performed behind the darkroom door

Life given purpose, on discovery of the art

He’d known as well, at the first pass—thirteen when

the war ended—he would not be called

But yet the day would come

 

The authoress had wanted a shorthand-typist.

‘You haven’t the face of a man with a hobby. I ought to hire Lady Newtonmore’s niece. Do you know how many years I scrounged for a publisher? The little upstart tells me she’ll look on it as an apprenticeship. Well, with the aristocracy, it is never a wise thing to burn one’s bridges. But, young Trout, I believe I’ll take you. And then,’ she’d said, Miss Keltenham…after he’d barely got used to her trend of thought, ‘you’ll take me!’

He had. She had come from the hairdresser without her specs, another woman altogether. After that, got testy, when he’d suggested, ‘Here you are putting an adverb between had and been. You do that rather often. Shall I correct them all?’

‘I’ll tell you what. Go down and speak to MacCreasey. He’s brought dull papers to read. A treat for you, lad.’

 

Months afterwards, going to Colonel Llewellyn’s safety talk, Trout, of all members of his camera club, bore about with him among ordinary shutterbugs, a certain celebrity, for having been hauled up by the collar into possession of this glamourous title…publicity agent.

‘Keltenham. Wife reads her. Bit of a humourist. Now there’s a danger worth putting a stop to, this joking habit. Gives comfort to the enemy.’

He hadn’t explained.

But, of course, the enemy.

This brief talk with the military man had chuffed Trout to pieces. And on that note of pride, he’d felt braced to a British sense of duty, stopping just shy of rejoicing…that the Germans seemed bent on re-arming.

They had all been asked to give their names.

He’d quivered in terror for a week…he’d gone wrong, somehow, and would not be summoned. The others would shift eyes at one another and snicker.

‘No, you’ll not speak to Llewellyn again. He’s not in it,’ Trout had been informed. The major had given him a canister of film.

 

So

These who gather at the Folly

The urbane host, the Oxonian guest—

That neighbour, Inskip…certainly a Scot

Farming in Somerset

Or like Virginia, those to whom they let the place

All incomers. Such are the bustling ways

Of the present century

And Trout supposes whether or no

This may mean much

It means something

 

It is the dire burden of the charge

His shoulders now must manage bearing

‘When we are infiltrated, the tunnel will be made

By a nosing in, a gradual wearing

It won’t seem odd to you when you’ve got used

To the agitation, the comings and goings

You imagine it’s only in the Big Smoke

That people pass by foreigners on the street

Preoccupied, indifferent, out-of-mind

In contrast to the countryside, the little towns

Where famously nothing escapes the public eye…

But you forget what the classes are

How easily one nods at eccentricities

Among the gentry.’

The major thinks it’s not the rank and file

‘Your touring countess is the greater menace.’

 

 


Song of Trout

Pastel drawing of blue-skinned ancient warriorWhere End Meets Beginning: Ninth Pale Knight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(2018, Stephanie Foster)

 

 

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