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The Screwtape Missives, Part IX

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,

So it has come about as I have predicted. Your man has completed the probation Count Gray put on him, and is now a squire. He constantly strives to behave, not as knights act, but — and this is much worse — as knights ought to act. Your efforts to lead him astray were valiant, creative and unsuccessful.

How unfortunate — for you. Here below, as you must realize, we are none so sentimental or forgiving as to acknowledge “a good try.” We reward success, and punish failure, each in extreme fashion. I would have expected you to be unable to forget this.

It now remains to consider what next. I know that you see this patient going the same route as your previous, as well you might, but panic will not improve your prospects. If he must be a squire, focusing his entire being on becoming the best possible knight that he can, then just let him.

That’s right, let him! Let him be a glorious, virtuous knight honored and respected throughout the realm — on the weekends.

How is he spending the rest of his time? Just because his attention is focused entirely on the SCA doesn’t mean yours must be. There is much you can yet do, and his aspirations for knighthood will be no shield to him; indeed it will be even more amusing when he arrives here.

Do you have him neglecting his work for the SCA? Is he not spending computer time in his office on kingdom correspondence? Does he not take off early on Fridays and come in late on Mondays because of events? Does he not spend time on the clock designing armor and costumes?

But this isn’t all. He doesn’t hold doors open in his office, does he? He’s not painfully scrupulous if some cashier gives him too much change, is he? He’s not unfailingly courteous to everyone he meets downtown on the street (as a true “ knight” should be)? Doesn’t he think himself better than the mundanes he meets?

Focus all of his annoying virtuous behavior, all his courtesy, consideration, honor, honesty, on his weekend games, and make him completely oblivious to any good behavior towards anyone not connected with the SCA.

Of course this must be done gradually, but when you have achieved it, you can even begin to let this sort of attitude encroach onto the SCA itself. Make him chivalrous only at events; but the gate guards aren’t really at the events, and Friday nights don’t count, and that person isn’t so important, and so on, and so on. All while thinking of himself as a “parfait gentile knight.” Eminently satisfying!

Your affectionate uncle,

Screwtape

Continue to The Screwtape Missives, Part X

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