Story for the Day: The Commons' Chair P1
Rautu adores his chair in the commons, so much so that he doesn't allow anyone to sit in it. That chair, however, once belonged to High Commander Bryeison and was a gift from Prince Draeden upon their promotion.
The quarters set aside for their express use was the castle commons. Once belonging to Frewyn’s heralded Captain of Guard, the two large rooms on the isolated upper floor of keep, above the kitchen and below the battlements, would now be regarded as their home. Draeden must relinquish his chamber in the royal quarter, which he had been happy to do, and resign himself to share the large bedchamber in the room adjoining the main. Bryeison, however, was somewhat saddened to give up his small bed in the barracks, for there he had spent many evenings, his feet poking out from the short blankets and dangling off the side, keeping Draeden awake by talking to him, laughing with him, discussing strategies and tactics with him. They had not slept there in some time, but the beds were reserved in their names and Bryeison could not allow them to be taken from him when they had furnished his reverie and Draeden’s with so much childlike and unabated joy. Draeden had predicted Bryeison’s sentiments and had Searle remove the two beds in place of two others for whoever should be fortunate enough to receive the new ones being supplied in their place. Those used by Bryeison and Draeden were to be dismantled and conveyed to the commons, where Draeden might spend another ten years sleeping on a straw mat as hard as a stone slab. Bryeison had gloried in sleeping on such an uncomfortable article; to him, what was uncomfortable was an excellent lesson in forbearance, and that which was uncomfortable and thus conquered only succeeded to strengthen one’s mind, fortify one’s form, and build one’s character. Though Bryeison adored sleeping under the auspices of a threading sky as the most excellent form of fortitude, he could do a day without nightly patrols and skirmishes, despite his unaffected adoration for martial practices. Draeden, however, had no real affection for the damp and frigid nights that a long Frewyn winter could promise, and where they were once used to brook sleeping on the ground or standing under the awning of a shoppe in town during their long patrol, they now might glean a few hours of uninterrupted slumber in the dry, warm comfort of the commons.
Draeden’s exulted anticipation of their new quarters diminished when they mounted the winding stair. The want of Bryeison’s outward excitement at the prospect of receiving tolerable accommodations accorded the dreadful suspicion that Bryeison would rather sleep on the battlements than indoors. The commons’ previous occupant, Draeden knew, had not been a lavish man, but he feared that any lingering extravagance might deter Bryeison from making the commons his home. He had given Searle the strictest orders: everything must be kept in a moderate style, no excessiveness in any of the outfittings, for though Draeden would have reveled in a feathered mattress and soft linens, Bryeison would never approve even the smallest ostentation. Sleeping on the stone ground would have done for him where others would have crumbled under such discomfort. That the commons had not been made too incommodious and therefore all to Bryeison’s liking was Draeden’s chief concern as they came to the top of the landing, but when they opened the door and surveyed the large front room, all Draeden’s fears were assuaged at the prospect of a room nearly wide as it was long, modestly fitted up, with a few trappings garnishing the stone floor, two arrases depicting the crests of kings past ornamenting the walls on either side of the wide hearth, and a large oak table sitting by the window surrounded by four varnished chairs, a door to the bed chamber and a small storeroom tucked away in the corner besides.
“Well,” said Draeden, inspecting the scene with all due approbation, “it isn’t too terrible.”
Bryeison marked the height of the doorway as he stepped over the threshold. “There is a door in this keep which I can walk under without ducking,” he said, his eyes crinkling with smile lines. “This room has promise.”
“I knew you should find something to admire,” said Draeden, walking toward the hearth and motioning for Bryeison to follow him. He went to the fireplace and remarked the rack of pokers and bellows before assessing the grates and flues.
“You’ve asked Searle to clean the chimney before we came,” Bryeison laughingly assumed.
Draeden looked affronted. “I simply wanted to enjoy a nice, warm fire while we get settled in.”
“There was a fire in the Great Hall, and you were standing nowhere near it.”
“I don’t like the smell of peat. It’s excellent as a seasoning, but the peat smoke makes my nose itch.”
“Many things make you itch.”
“Are you alluding to my noble birth or to my natural sensibility?”
“I’m making a general statement about how easily you are disturbed.”
“Well, I may have inherited a little of my parents’ nicety against my will, but that doesn’t mean I must be punished for it, now does it?”
Bryeison said nothing and failed to check his cunning smiles.
“We’ll see then how you enjoy being physicked and fussed with a dreadfully warm fire and a terribly dry bed.”
“I may not prefer these things, but that doesn’t mean I dislike them entirely, Draeden.”
Draeden succumbed to his usual frolicsome smiles. “No, perhaps not, but there is something in this apartment that will make you writhe in uncomfortable agony.”
Bryeison raised a brow and watched Draeden as he opened the bedchamber door.
“Now,” said Draeden, turning back, “before you grow angry with me, I have a gift for you.”
How quickly was Bryeison incensed, and how happy was Draeden made by the sight of his restlessness.
“I said before you grow angry,” said Draeden, in a lamenting accent.
Bryeison sighed, and began a threatening, “Draeden-“ before his friend’s protestation quieted him.
“It’s a practical gift, I promise.”
“If it’s practical, then why should I be angry?”
“Because regardless of how small or how reasonable a gift, you always demand that I should not have done it.”
That Draeden’s presents, though sparingly given at Breyison’s own requested, had always been sensible could not be denied, but the moment his friend went to the bedchamber and returned with what was supposedly his gift, every sentiment of disappointed indignation was returning. There, placed before the unlit hearth, was a leather armchair, exquisitely furnished with mahogany legs, hickory armrests, and silken cushion. Though its seat was wide, its craftsmanship more than commendable, and its style inviting, the excess of generosity on his friend’s side of the question he could not condone. He inhaled and parted his lips, ready to make his remonstrances, but Draeden raised his hand, and he was silenced.
“You always stand at meetings and ceremonies and holiday celebrations,” said Draeden feelingly.
“I stand to save the bodger the trouble of remaking his chairs,” Bryeison firmly reminded him.
“Well, I think you’ve broken enough of his crafts in the last few years to warrant a chair made expressly for your use. After a long day of training and skirmishes, and patrol till all hours of the morning, I thought you might like to sit for a change. Think of all the writing you could do and books you could read in the dry, warm glow of the fireside. I know you despise any real comfort, but think of what the benches and chairs in the mess hall have been made to suffer under your weight.”
Here the giant Varrallan was forced to concede. A score of benches in the mess, one in the Great Hall, three chairs at various taverns, one in the castle kitchen, all broken from having his immense weight forced upon them. He was forever breaking something when sitting down- an arm, a backrest, a leg- and forever having to apply to the bodger, woodworker, and wickerer to fix them. He had been spared the humiliation of ruining another man’s tireless exertion by standing and avoiding any seat that looked too small or precarious to sit upon, and though he could reason away the fatigue in his legs as being an improver of his strength and constitution, he did wish that a chair with a seat wide enough for his legs, tall enough for his height, and broad enough for his back might be found. He felt all the goodness in his friend’s thoughtful gift, he could not accept it without feeling that he had made the leatherworker and the chairmaker relinquish their best pieces merely to support his comfort where he may have used them to support his business. He did not wish to follow his friend’s conjectures, but he must say it: “You shouldn’t have done this, Draeden.”
“Well,” Draeden shrugged, trying not to smile, “at least you said it without being angry. Go ahead and sit it in. It was tailored to your exact dimensions.”
Bryeison gave his friend a chary look. “I never sat for this.”
“No, you didn’t, but I think we’ve been friends long enough for me to know how wide your bottom is. I’ve certainly seen it enough times while you’re maneuvering around the small barracks basin trying to take a decent bath.”
Bryeison fleered and shook his head, divided between resigning his principles to his friend’s whims and merely pacing the room in contemplative remorse. Draeden’s pouting expression and pleading eyes soon overpowered him, and he approached the lavish contrivance with a conscious heart.