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The Screwtape Missives, Part VII

by Viscount Sir Galen of Bristol

©2004, Paul T. Mitchell,
This work may not be reproduced in any form, written or electronic, without the permission of the author.

My Dear Wormwood,

It’s no good complaining to me about it. It was bound to happen, the way you were handling him.

If you had mellowed him just a little, you could have played his pride for years. You could have moderated his outbursts of temper by directing some of it inward. You could have made his blow-calling less blatant. You could have taught him to say the courteous speeches necessary on the field in an insulting way.

As it is, you’ve lost much ground to the Enemy. Of course you’re right, Count Gray stepped outside the rules (not actually breaking them) to pull your patient right out of your influence. Count Gray is far advanced in the enemy’s service; I’ve checked his dossier. He is actually quite close to the “ideal” knight I’ve spoken of. His family are good role models, and they reach out and help others for no apparent gain. Disgusting!

And your man fell for it! You must have realized he would. What does your man admire? What have you taught him to admire? Dominance on the field. Well, here is the most skilled fighter in your man’s acquaintance. He has offered him what you have taught him to desire most. In return, he must learn to practice those courtesies he’s previously only believed he was practicing!

Deflect him from this, Wormwood. Once your man actually begins behaving in a courteous, chivalrous way, you may be on your way to losing him altogether. He will find this insipid, virtuous, weak conduct enjoyable! He will find it rewarding! He will make a habit of such behavior. You must not let him.

Re-focus his attention on a new goal. Now that Count Gray has “taken him under his wing” as it were, he should fix his sights on becoming a squire. Let him go overboard, insincerely saying chivalrous inanities, rushing to carry ladies’ baskets, wearing himself out with mock courtesy and public chivalry until he’s exhausted, and then neglect it all when Count Gray can’t see. If his idea is to use this conduct as a means to becoming a squire, rather than behaving courteously for its own sake, he’ll soon drop it when he is made a squire, or when he gives up on his goal.

Also, make him obsequious. Get him following the Count around, carrying things for him, asking his advice, complimenting him. Maybe he can disgust the Count so much as to be expelled from his company. That is devoutly to be wished. Have your man suppress his dignity to try to serve Count Gray — nothing will repel the Count more than such subservience. Fortunately, your man has been rendered incapable of the sort of dignified consideration that would really please Count Gray.

Your affectionate uncle,

Screwtape

Continue to The Screwtape Missives, Part VIII

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