“Men,” I solemnly said, which made both boys turn to look at me sharply. When they saw that I wasn’t demeaning them, they paid attention.
“You know, you two are probably the biggest young men in the region. In the old days. it used to be the task of men such as yourselves to protect the boys, girls, women and older men in their region from harm. They were known as knights, and they took an oath to protect the weak and old. They used their strength to protect instead of trying to lord it over those of lesser muscle. I believe y’all are worthy of such a mission.”
Jonah turned red and looked at the ground.
Jeremy looked at him and started to laugh, but I said, “Jeremy, love is not something to laugh about. It is a beautiful emotion and worthy of a knight. You should respect Jonah for having the heart of a knight and should help him in any way to show his love for his maiden and possible wife-to-be.”
Jonah looked at me and said, “She don’t even know I’m alive. Everything I have tried to get her attention has been shot down.”
“Doesn’t,” I corrected.
“Okay, doesn’t,” he mimicked.
“Maybe you have been going about it the wrong way. I will help win the heart of Peggy Newcomer if you will let me,” I proposed.
“You will?” Jonah asked.
“Yes, I will.”
Then he looked at the ground and said, “But her family is rich and we ain’t.”
When I didn’t reply, he looked at me. I looked at him with a teacher’s glare and he left out a huff. “Aren’t,” he restated.
I nodded and then declared, “Jonah, you are a good-looking, strapping young man, and I know you have in you to make something of yourself. The sky is the limit for you and Jeremy, especially with your father wanting you to take over the business. If you can learn to cherish a woman for your wife and have the means to provide for her and a family, I don’t know of anything better a woman could ask for.”
Jonah looked at Jeremy and said, “How about you?”
Jeremy shrugged and said, “It sounds good to me.” He looked at me and asked, “Maybe you could help me with the girl I cotton to?”
I nodded my assent.
Jonah looked at me and said, “What about this oath you was talking about?”
“Were,” I corrected.
“Were,” Jonah reiterated.