No Good Stories

No Good Stories:

I don't really have any good stories tonight. I've been blogging more mostly because Camp Victory now has wireless internet access in places, so I have non-work access this last little while for the hour or so I can scrounge out of the day. This has given me a little more leeway to talk with you, at the expense of my previous leisure activity of reading heavily. Too, the weather has been extremely pleasant here in Baghdad, when you can get outside -- 75 degrees and sunny, with a cool breeze this afternoon that was pleasant until it finally stirred up too much dust and everything had to be sealed up. The warm weather means the hot weather is just around the corner; but while the pleasure of the breeze is better for me, it is not nearly so interesting for you to read about.

Since I don't have anything interesting to tell you, I'll give you Walter Scott, instead. This is from The Talisman, one of his novels of the Crusaders. We often talk about how bad our armor is, but we are somewhat better off than when armor-of-proof was wrought from steel:

The dress of the rider and the accoutrements of his horse were peculiarly unfit for the traveller in such a country. A coat of linked mail, with long sleeves, plated gauntlets, and a steel breastplate, had not been esteemed a sufficient weight of armour; there were also his triangular shield suspended round his neck, and his barred helmet of steel, over which he had a hood and collar of mail, which was drawn around the warrior's shoulders and throat, and filled up the vacancy between the hauberk and the headpiece. His lower limbs were sheathed, like his body, in flexible mail, securing the legs and thighs, while the feet rested in plated shoes, which corresponded with the gauntlets. A long, broad, straight-shaped, double-edged falchion, with a handle formed like a cross, corresponded with a stout poniard on the other side. The knight also bore, secured to his saddle, with one end resting on his stirrup, the long steel-headed lance, his own proper weapon, which, as he rode, projected backwards, and displayed its little pennoncelle, to dally with the faint breeze, or drop in the dead calm. To this cumbrous equipment must be added a surcoat of embroidered cloth, much frayed and worn, which was thus far useful that it excluded the burning rays of the sun from the armour, which they would otherwise have rendered intolerable to the wearer. The surcoat bore, in several places, the arms of the owner, although much defaced. These seemed to be a couchant leopard, with the motto, "I sleep; wake me not." An outline of the same device might be traced on his shield, though many a blow had almost effaced the painting. The flat top of his cumbrous cylindrical helmet was unadorned with any crest. In retaining their own unwieldy defensive armour, the Northern Crusaders seemed to set at defiance the nature of the climate and country to which they had come to war.

The accoutrements of the horse were scarcely less massive and unwieldy than those of the rider. The animal had a heavy saddle plated with steel, uniting in front with a species of breastplate, and behind with defensive armour made to cover the loins. Then there was a steel axe, or hammer, called a mace-of- arms, and which hung to the saddle-bow.
The knight is described as a "knight of the Red Cross," which actually could mean one of several parties, including the Templars, who are actually the villians in this book (moreso, in fact, than the Muslims -- Saladin is a co-hero, as Scott was impressed with his character, recognizing good men in any faith, as I also think is proper). In this case, the Red Cross means the St. George's Cross, and the party of Richard the Lionheart. This is in the same way that a Knight of the White Cross could be a Hospitaller, or a Dane, or one of several others.

It's a good story, although not Ivanhoe. If you want a story set in the desert, though, it's better than any I have to tell you today.

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