” George, George can you run an errand for me “.
It was Mrs. Billings yelling as I was about to exit the building. She lives on the ground floor, closest to the only opening that gives entrance and exit to the building, it was impossible to pass unnoticed.
I turned mid stride and said ” Sure Mrs. Billings, what would you like me to get for you”.
” Go to Tate’s and get me a loaf of bread, 2lb sugar, qtr.lb. of Typhoo tea and a snow cake. Tell Mr. Tate that I won’t get my pension till next week so can he write it in his book till then”.
Mrs.Billings gave me her grocery bag and I took off for the fifteen minute walk to Tate’s. Upon arriving I gave him the order and her instructions, he duly recorded the transaction in his little book. Upon returning to Mrs. Billings apartment I knocked on the door and handed her the groceries.
“Thank you George” she said, ” You are my little knight errand” and gave me two digestive biscuits for my trouble. I nibbled at the biscuits as I puzzled over what she meant by knight errand.
From that day every Tuesday and Friday, without fail, she would corner me and send me on some errand to a store, and would always call me her little knight errand.
Still curious over the meaning of knight errand, I questioned Miss Kelly, my teacher. She laughed and said I think she meant knight errant. Knight errant was a knight who wandered the land in search of adventure and to right the wrongs of the land. He usually performed all his deeds for a lady. She then went on to tell me about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and Gawain, Lancelot, Galahad and Percival.
I was enthralled at this idea and from then on imagined myself as a knight wandering the land doing all kinds of good deeds.
Tuesday came around, I passed Mrs. Billings house expecting to be sent on my usual knights errand journey to the store. To my surprise she was not outside waiting for me. I wondered if she was sick and so knocked hesitantly at the door. After a few minutes a man came to the door and when I enquired about Mrs. Billings he said she was taking a nap. I thought this was unusual, but nodded my head and walked away. For the next two weeks Mrs. Billings was not to be seen and I always received the same answer when enquiring about her.
There came a time when I saw the man exit Mrs. Billings apartment and when he rounded the corner, out of sight, I tapped on her door. No answer. I knocked louder. Still no answer. I turned the door handle and pushed forward. To my surprise the door opened. I stepped hesitantly inside, searching.
Mrs. Billings voice cried out, ” Is someone there”
“It’s me, George” I replied. “Your knight errand”.
” You are a saviour” she sniffed, ” You have to go and get me help”.
I asked her what was wrong.
“It’s my son Alfie, he needed somewhere to stay as he lost his job and couldn’t pay his rent. So even though he’s given me trouble in the past I reluctantly allowed him to stay. But he’s taken my pension book and locks me in the bedroom every time he leaves the house”.
She cried softly as she pleaded, ” You have to help me get out of here”.
” Don’t worry Mrs. Billings, I’ll rescue you, it may take a little while, but I will free you ” I said as I hurried back out the door.
Mrs. Billings was locked in the dungeon by her dragon of a son and I knew exactly how to rescue her. I ran all the way to Lemon Street Police Station and breathlessly blurted out Mrs. Billings dilemma to the policeman behind the counter.
“Hold your horses lad, slow down a bit, I can’t understand a word you’re saying”. The policeman’s calm tone steadied my nerves, I tried to relax my breathing.
” Mrs. Billings, my neighbour, is being held prisoner by her son Alfie, and he’s stolen her pension book, ” I gasped.
” So that would be Alfie Billings,” the policeman intoned ” We’ve been looking for him for burglary and assaulting a police officer. He escaped from us when we went to question him at his apartment.”
Two hours later I was sitting in Mrs. Billings parlour enjoying a cup of tea and chocolate digestive biscuits. She was thanking me for the hundredth time and calling me her little knight errand for the hundredth time. Shame to say I was basking in her adoration and feeling pretty good about myself. Sir George, Knight
Errand Errant, saving damsels from dragons and rescuing fair maidens from imprisonment.
“George,we’ve run out of biscuits, be a good lad and run an errand for me.”
I jumped on my steed to roam the land once again in search of adventure.