BALIAN ARRIvED LATE AT THE ARCHDEACON of Tyre’s lodgings, still wrapped in the damp cloak he had worn riding. “Forgive me, William,” he said before the churchman could issue a word of reproach. “There was an accident. Fortunately, nothing serious—or rather, no harm came from it, but it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. The king is becoming willful and disobedient. I don’t know if I’ve lost his respect or if his status has gone to his head, but he doesn’t listen to me anymore!”
“Come in and warm up,” William countered calmly, sending his assistant for hot mulled wine. “Here, let me have that cloak. We’ll hang it out to dry a bit. Have a seat and tell me what happened.”
“I won’t bore you with the details. Baldwin insisted on trying to jump a stone wall that I told him was too high for him. He just put his nose in the air, turned Misty around, and charged at the wall. Misty, intelligently, refused, but Baldwin lost his seat and landed in the mud.”
“He wasn’t hurt, you say?”
“Thanks to the mud, not seriously, although he’ll have some bad bruises. The point is, I warned him—no, I ordered him not to do it—and he ignored me,” Balian insisted indignantly.
“Baldwin is thirteen-and-a-half. Did you always do what you were told at that age?”
“If I didn’t, someone took a cane to me!”
“How often did that happen?” William asked, amused.
“Oh, I don’t know, a dozen times or so, I suppose.”
“Hm. So, why don’t you keep track of Baldwin’s moments of insolence and let me know when they exceed a dozen times.”
Balian laughed. “All right, I take your point. Still, he might have been seriously injured.”
“Yes, but I would rather have a king willing to take calculated risks than one who is cowardly, wouldn’t you?”
Balian drew a deep breath and admitted, “of course.”
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