What Is This Very Good Squire Up To?

British Library digitized image from page 149 of “The Merry Ballads of the Olden Time, illustrated in pictures & rhyme”
British Library digitized image from page 149 of “The Merry Ballads of the Olden Time, illustrated in pictures & rhyme”
Illustration: British Library
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A faithful hound sits behind a shield, gauntlets, and a sword—a pile of battle-ready belongings, but no knight to wear them. Why is this very good boy keeping watch, and where’s his presumably un-armored human? Saddle up for another round of io9's Concept Art Writing Prompt series, where we share an image and invite you to get creative with a story in the comments.

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This particular illustration comes from one of our favorite sources for public domain images: the British Library Flickr archive. The historical context provided tells us that this particular image comes from “The Merry Ballads of the Olden Time, illustrated in pictures & rhyme,” a monograph published in 1880 by “F. Warne.” No idea what ballad accompanied this image, but if you feel like writing your contribution in rhyme, go for it!

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DISCUSSION

Pitchblende
Pitchblende

He’d finished his long, hard, grueling patrol. He’d spent weeks sleeping on the hard ground, covering mile after mile on his trusty steed with only his faithful hound as company. It was tough but someone had to keep the kingdom safe from dragons and ogres; to root out the lairs of trolls and pindy-men; to vanquish bog wraiths and witch queens. That was his task.

Of course, he knew where all the best inns were, the friendliest farms and most welcoming villages, after all, what was to point of keeping the people safe if they didn’t see him doing it?

Being a knight was not as in the old tales. The dragons had long flown away, preferring warmer climes; ogres and trolls had been wiped out before his time; bog wraiths and pindy-men were all in the imagination of peasants; witch queens were just the fears of impotent men.

But there was one thing the stories got right, the maidens. Maidens loved a knight in armour, even better, they loved a knight out of it...