As the title to this vintage tale implies there is a moral to it; it the old moral about judging people by their outward appearances ort what rumor says of them. The people judged in haste are Duke Kane Redfeather and Duchess Ilissas the Nightwatcher and the person who judged to hastily is, I am rather ashamed to say, myself.
When Kane Redfeather first joined the SCA I didn’t know much about him other than the fact that he was a barbarian warrior. At the time, a barbarian warrior persona was synonymous with a Conan wanabe. Many of these new warriors also seemed to believe that a barbarian person somehow exempted them from the usual rules of courtesy that apply to other members of the Society. For this reason, many of us who were established in the Society automatically took a dim view of anyone who announced themselves as barbarians.
After several years in the Society Kane Redfeather took a wife. Early reports back from Grey Niche said that Ilissa the Nightwatcher was blond, bold and brassy, and had a penchant for wearing rabbit furs. In short she was just the sort of wife you would figure that a barbarian warrior would take.
All this didn’t really disturb Meridies that much until Kane won the crown tournament.
When first it was learned that Kane Redfeather would be our next monarch there was a great deal of misgivings among many of the people of the kingdom. These misgivings were not soothed by the fact that he promised us, “A rock-and-roll reign.”
Many of us were thankful that the kingdom officers would be on hand to reign in his extravagances, so with grim determination we prepared to ride out the storm.
What followed was both a relief and a surprise to us all. Kane was off-the-wall when he could be, but when the situation demanded it, he took his royal duties seriously and performed then with dignity. Everyone, myself included, looked back on his reign as a good one and were quite please when he won the crown tournament a second time.
You would think that I would have known better than to judge Kane and Ilissa by what others had said from the experience
Isolde had becoming a Laurel. Shortly after she became a peer, Baron Gordon Blackwolf told us that after he had received his Laurel, Isolde’s name had come up in the circle several times, and whenever it did there were serious objections:
Laurel A had heard that Isolde was rude and arrogant.
Laurel B heard that she had a foul temper and was insulting to anyone of lower rank.
Laurel C had heard that she was constantly trying to ingratiate herself with the Laurels in order to worm her way into the Circle.
After hearing the litany of Isolde’s shortcomings, Master Gordon would ask these Laurels if they had actual firsthand experience of Isolde’s inadequacies. Well, no, they would reply, but they had heard I from someone who knew someone who was a friend of someone who had actually been there or whom it had actually happened.
Gordon would then point out that such hear-say evidence would not stand up in a mundane court of law, and before they condemned the lady maybe they should see for themselves if what they had been told was true. Every time someone would take his advice they would come back to him saying, ”I don’t know why I ever believed all that, she’s a delightful person.” (Heck, I could have told them that!)
So, as they say, never judge a book by its cover or someone by what you may have heard about them. Whenever a newbie introduces himself as a barbarian, I remind myself of Kane Redfeather and welcome him to the Society.