The Royal Joust
by Bruce Lansky

From Girls to the Rescue Book #1

When her brother is unable to compete in the final round of the royal joust, Lindsey disguises herself in an attempt to claim the trophy in her brother's place.

 
       

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Characters in Order of Appearance
Narrator*
Lady Rowena
Lindsey
Reggie
Sir Gavilan
Sir William

*You may want to divide the narrator's longer passages among several readers.


Narrator: Lady Rowena looked at the empty chair at the breakfast table and then at Lindsey.

Rowena: Where is your brother? If he doesn't hurry up, he'll be late for the tournament.

Lindsey: Don't worry, Mother. Reggie won't miss the finals of the Royal Joust. I'll see to that.

Narrator: Lindsey answered. When she knocked on Reggie's bedroom door, Lindsey thought she heard a moan. As she opened the door, she noticed that Reggie's curtains were drawn. He was still in bed. Stepping into the room, she realized he was moaning-and talking to himself.

Reggie: Oh, no! I can't move!

Narrator: Reggie repeated this lament over and over.

Lindsey: You can't stay in bed, Reggie. Today is the last day of the tournament, so you'd better roll your aching body out of bed and into your armor. Then ride over to North Hampton by noon, or you'll be disqualified.

Reggie: I want to, but I can't. I was sideswiped by Sir Garth's horse yesterday. I have no idea how I stayed in my saddle. Now I can't ride, I can't walk, I can't even get out of bed.

Narrator: explained Reggie.

Lindsey: Reggie, today is the last day of the tournament, and you're still undefeated. This is your big chance. At least give it a try.

Reggie: Sorry,

Narrator: said Reggie,

Reggie: I hate to let you down. Would you mind riding to North Hampton to tell the tournament officials I'm withdrawing from the competition?

Lindsey: No problem, Reggie. I was planning to go anyway, to watch you win. No one in the tournament has worked harder than you. I wish I could take your place and bring back a trophy for you.

Reggie: So do I!

Narrator: said Reggie.

Reggie: Too bad they don't let girls compete.

Narrator: Lindsey thought about what he said. It bothered her that Reggie would have to drop out of the tournament on the final day. She and Reggie had been training all year. Every day, weather permitting, Reggie's page, Giles, would help them suit up in armor and hoist them onto chargers so they could joust with padded lances. Reggie was bigger and stronger than Lindsey, but Lindsey was a skilled rider, better able to guide her horse precisely the right place at the right time. She was almost impossible to hit, let alone unseat. And Giles knew enough to keep his mouth shut about a girl learning the knightly arts.

Lindsey: You don't mind if I borrow your charger for the trip, do you?

Narrator: asked Lindsey.

Reggie: No problem.

Narrator: Reggie responded, even though it was unusual to ride a charger to town.

Reggie: Lightning could use the exercise.

Lindsey: Thanks, Reggie. I'll send them a message they won't soon forget.

Narrator: Lindsey explained to her mother that Reggie had asked her to let the tournament officials know he was unable to compete. Then she hurried to find Giles, for without a page to help her, she couldn't put her plan into action. Giles helped Lindsey put on Reggie's suit of armor and saddle up Lightning. Together, they set off at a trot on the road to North Hampton.

Lindsey and Giles reached North Hampton just as the tournament was about to begin. The crowd milled about in a festive mood while the knights were hoisted onto their horses. No one noticed Lindsey (disguised as Reggie) was already mounted. Anticipation built as each contestant rode onto the field. There would be three rounds of competition with eight contestants in the first round, four in the second, and two in the third. Lindsey had drawn Sir Wilton, one of the tallest knights on the circuit, as her first opponent.

With her helmet on and her visor down, Lindsey rode past the tournament officials, dipping her lance in the traditional salute to the king and queen. Then she lined up in Reggie's place at the edge of the field, opposite Sir Wilton. Trumpets blew a fanfare, and the tournament was under way.

On the first pass, Lindsey ducked under Sir Wilton's lance and managed to strike him on the shoulder. Although Sir Wilton was stunned, he remained in his saddle. On the second pass, Lindsey guided Lightning inside toward Sir Wilton, whose horse shied away. Sir Wilton dropped his lance as he grabbed for the reins with both hands to gain control of his horse. That's when Lindsey's lance struck him and knocked him out of his saddle.

As was the custom, Lindsey rode up to where the king and queen were seated on the reviewing stand and again lowered her lance. A murmur of surprise went through the crowd when she did not lift her visor. Lindsey didn't care; she'd made it to the second round.

Her next opponent was Sir Rockwell, last year's champion. As Lindsey lined up at the end of the field opposite him, she wondered how she could possibly unseat such a seasoned opponent. The trumpets blared and both horses galloped toward each other at breakneck pace.

Suddenly, Lindsey reined in Lightning. The horse whinnied and dug in its heavy hooves. Sir Rockwell swung his lance away to avoid hitting Lightning, because injuring a horse meant disqualification. But Lindsey kept her lance trained on Sir Rockwell as he swept past her. The blow hit him squarely. He fell hard and didn't get up. Sir Rockwell seemed unconscious as his page carried him off the field, but a bucket of cold water quickly revived him.

Again Lindsey saluted the king and queen. Again she kept her visor shut. This time the crowd buzzed. People wondered why "Reggie" would not acknowledge the praise of the royal couple and the applause of the crowd by showing his face.

As Lindsey watched the other semifinalists compete, she saw Sir Gavilan unhorse his opponent in a single pass. The crowd cheered as Sir Gavilan lifted up his visor and lowered his lance to the king and queen. Clearly, he would be the crowd's favorite in the finals.

As both Lindsey and Sir Gavilan mounted their horses for the final round, he called to her, Sir

Gavilan: If you won't open your visor, I'll just have to knock your helmet off.

Narrator: Lindsey rode to her end of the field without saying a word.

Sir Gavilan: Tongue-tied?

Narrator: Sir Gavilan called out. Again, Lindsey didn't answer. As the trumpets blared to start the final round, Sir Gavilan took off at a full gallop. But Lindsey merely trotted toward him, then stopped. Sir Gavilan was puzzled and lowered his lance. Lindsey spurred Lightning forward and would have scored a direct hit on Sir Gavilan had he not blocked her lance with his shield. He slipped to the right and almost lost his balance, but he managed to hang onto his horse with his strong legs.

Sir Gavilan's smile had been knocked off his face. He was worried as he prepared for the second pass. At the sound of the trumpets, the horses surged toward each other once again. This time, Sir Gavilan did not drop his guard. He kept his lance aimed directly at Lindsey. And even though Lindsey swerved toward him, he did not lower his lance.

Instead of trying to strike him with her own lance, Lindsey put all her strength and that of Lightning's behind her shield as it met Sir Gavilan's lance. Shield crashed against lance with terrible force, and the blow knocked the lance out of Sir Gavilan's hand. It clattered, useless, to the ground.

Without a lance, Sir Gavilan had to draw his sword for the third pass; he was now at a distinct disadvantage. Bravely he drove his horse toward Lindsey, trying to get close enough to strike. But Lindsey swerved away to maintain her advantage and struck Sir Gavilan with her lance, bouncing him out of the saddle.

She had won. The tournament was over. To a rising swell of cheers, Lindsey rode to the reviewing stand and waved to acknowledge the ovation. Without lifting her visor, she dismounted and bowed to the king and queen. The queen then presented the winner's trophy to Lindsey, who held it above her head as the crowd applauded thunderously. Then Lindsey mounted Lightning and rode around the field, holding the trophy aloft.

When she returned to the reviewing stand, Lindsey handed the trophy back to the head judge so it could be engraved and happily galloped toward home.

That evening, a tournament official arrived at Lindsey's home and asked to see Sir Reginald. Lady Rowena greeted him instead, introducing herself and adding,

Lady Rowena: Reggie is in no condition to see any visitors. Please state your business to me.

Sir William: I am Sir William, head judge of the Royal Joust. I am here to present the championship trophy to Sir Reginald. His name has been engraved in silver upon it.

Lady Rowena: I'm afraid you're mistaken, sir. Reggie had to drop out. He has been in bed all day.

Narrator: Sir William was taken aback.

Sir William: This is quite confusing. We all watched Sir Reginald win three jousts, unseating Sir Wilton, Sir Rockwell, and Sir Gavilan. The queen herself presented the trophy.

Lady Rowena: Are you sure it was Reggie?

Narrator: asked Lady Rowena.

Sir William: Well, he was riding the same horse he's been on all week, and wearing his usual armor-

Lady Rowena: But did you ever see his face?

Narrator: interrupted Lady Rowena.

Sir William: Now that you mention it, Sir Reginald caused quite a stir by refusing to lift his visor before the king and queen. Rather odd, if you ask me.

Narrator: Sir William replied.

Lady Rowena: Lindsey! Come here this minute!

Narrator: Lady Rowena's voice rang throughout the castle. Lindsey appeared so quickly, she must have been nearby listening to the conversation.

Lady Rowena: Lindsey, didn't you inform Sir William that Reggie was injured and would have to drop out of the tournament?

Lindsey: No, Mother, I did not.

Lady Rowena: Did you ride to North Hampton on Reggie's horse, Lightning?

Lindsey: Yes, Mother, I did.

Lady Rowena: You weren't, by any chance, wearing Reggie's armor, were you?

Narrator: Lindsey looked first at her mother, then at Sir William.

Lindsey: Yes, Mother, I was.

Narrator: Lady Rowena smiled at her daughter.

Lady Rowena: Lindsey, I'm proud of you.

Narrator: Turning to Sir William, she said,

Lady Rowena: It is my pleasure to inform you that my daughter, Lindsey, and her brother, Reginald, have won the Royal Joust together.

Sir William: This is quite irregular! In fact, it's it's unheard of!

Narrator: Sir William stammered. Now it was Lindsey's turn to speak.

Lindsey: You would not have allowed me to compete if I had asked to take Reggie's place, so I took his place and kept my visor down so I would not be recognized.

Narrator: Sir William frowned.

Lady Rowena: Sir William, I would remind you of your duty as head judge to congratulate the winners.

Narrator: said Lady Rowena with a broad smile. Sir William shook Lindsey's hand grudgingly.

Sir William: By all means, congratulations are in order.

Narrator: he replied.

Lady Rowena: I don't suppose you'd mind taking the trophy back and engraving Lindsey's name next to Reggie's?

Narrator: Lady Rowena asked.

Sir William: Under the circumstances, I don't believe I have a choice.

Narrator: sputtered the befuddled judge. Lindsey was dying to tell Reggie that they had won the Royal Joust together, but he could not be roused from a very deep sleep. So the good news would have to wait till morning.

 

1995 by Bruce Lansky. Adapted from the story "The Royal Joust" in Girls to the Rescue, Book #1, published by Meadowbrook Press. This Classroom Theater version of "The Royal Joust " is 2000 by Meadowbrook Press.

Permission is given for individual school classes to perform this play and to make as many copies of the play as are needed for the students' use. All other reproduction and performance is prohibited under penalty of law.

Click here to learn more about Bruce Lansky.