Camelot's knights and their legendary profits

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Today, a brand new Arthurian tale set in the Court of Camelot.

It was evening, and the Knights of the Round Table were gathering in Camelot at King Arthur's behest for one of their regular assemblies at which challenges could be made, calls for help discussed and policy changes mooted.

King Arthur looked round the table at his trusty band of warriors and warmed to think that so many good men were at his side. Some seats were empty, because there were always some knights off on missions or looking for the Holy Grail. Originally they had looked for danger only once a week. Now it was twice a week. It made more sense.

He struck the table for silence.

"My noble knights," he said. "It has been another excellent season of rescue and personal combat. We have helped many people in their hour of need, even if we have not always had thank-you letters from them."

Everyone laughed. One always laughs at a king's jokes.

"But there have been complaints."

"Not from anyone at this table!" cried Sir Bedivere. "We have done good, yes, but we have done well by doing good!"

More laughter.

"Too well, perhaps," said King Arthur. "There have been many complaints that we at Camelot are making too much money."

"Too much money?" said Sir Kay. "But we are poor knights! We make no money! All we have is our armour, our horse and our squire!"

"And nothing else?" said the king. "No other assets? What of your new castle? What of your land in Mercia? What of your gold and silver? What of your jewels in your wife's name? What of your ..."

"Ah, that," said Sir Kay. "Well, that is all put away for a rainy day. Nothing to do with cash flow."

"And where did it come from, O poor knight?" said King Arthur. "Where did you possibly find the money? Just by rescuing damsels and slaying dragons?"

"There has been the odd reward," said Sir Kay, vaguely. "I have levied the odd commission. I have accepted gifts from people I have helped. Dragons tend to leave hoards. If jewels were offered, or were lying around, I was not so ungrateful as to leave them there."

"In other words, you have awarded yourselves a king's bonus!" chortled Sir Leodegrance. "But then, so have we all!"

"And for good reason," put in Sir Lancelot. "It is an expensive business, running Camelot. We have to make sure our running expenses are covered."

"Running expenses, Sir Lancelot?"

"Travel, equipment, food, entertainment ... all the little basics."

"Travel far, do you, Sir Lancelot?" inquired Sir Balan, slyly. There was a laugh. Everyone knew that Sir Lancelot was gone for months on end, usually to sunny countries. "Not enough distressed damsels for you here in the British Isles?"

"Have to look for the Holy Grail," said Lancelot, stiffly. "Have to look for it all over the place. Not likely to be in Basingstoke, is it? More likely the Middle East."

"And what do you do when you need money, Sir Lancelot?" said King Arthur. "We agreed when we started the Table that if in need, we would pray to God and He would provide."

"And so I still do," said Lancelot hotly. "I pray to God for help. And I hear God's voice. And it says to me ..."

"Take all the treasure you can lay your hands on," said Kay. More laughter.

"Something like that," confessed Lancelot.

"Well," said King Arthur, "the voice of God came to me last night via Merlin and it said that if we don't stop making excess money or don't consider giving it away, He might reallocate the Round Table franchise elsewhere."

After cries of horror, they got down to some hard paperwork and found that God's calculations were pretty accurate. The Round Table had assets in excess of 40,000,000 gold sovereigns.

"Any ideas?" invited King Arthur. "For making less money, that is."

"Give it away?" suggested one knight.

"Hold a huge party?" said another.

"Rebuild Camelot twice the size? ... Build a series of wide roads to improve the infrastructure for knightly activity? ... Fund research into the Black Death? ... Make a bid to host the next big international tournament, Eurojoust '46?"

"Go to Jerusalem?" said Sir Gawain.

"Jerusalem?" said the king. "For a crusade, you mean?"

"Certainly not!" said Gawain, shocked. "I mean, go on a luxury How-Shall- We-Spend-The Camelot-Money? business seminar. Should get rid of some of it."

The motion was passed unanimously.