The Scholar, the Monk and the Scribe
In the time of this story, the Duke of Essex was a scurrilous man, full of greed and other vices. In his employ, he had a Monk, to keep his piety and educate his children, a Scribe, responsible for keeping his books and recording his feats, and a Scholar, handling matters of the law and maintaining the Duke's library.
The Duke feared that another noble would hire them away from him, and so, complained to everyone who would listen about how slothful and foolish the three of them were. In truth, each man worked when the sun rose, and kept working until the tallow had been melted away, and each of these men was wise in their profession.
Since no one would be willing to accept any of these three because of the Duke's lies, they were little better than slaves to him; he lowered their wages again and again, and gave them more and more work, even requiring them to work as stablehands when it suited him.
Frustrated by these affronts, the Scholar stormed into the chambers of the Scribe and the Monk one day, declaring, "Enough of this! The Duke uses us as he sees fit and does not reward us for our labors! We are all learned men; if simple peasants can make their fortunes as Scoundrels and Vagabonds, then we too can do the same, and because of our intelligence, will be far superior! Let us take to the forest and visit vengeance upon the Duke of Essex, and find profit in it!"
The Scribe leapt up, excited. "Yes! This is the plan that we need. We are all wise men, and can surely find better ways of banditry than a simple peasant! And I can chronicle our adventures and gain for us public sympathy, like unto that of the famous Robin Hood!"
The Monk frowned. "I have taken a vow of poverty, I care not for riches, nor for prestige."
Ignoring his pleas, the Scholar and the Scribe grabbed him by each arm, and brought him with them into the forest, where they set up camp and set about the work of being bandits.
#Their First Crime
Around the campfire one night, the Scribe announced, "In doing the Duke's books, I know that he has leant a large sum of money to Philip the White, who is due to repay the loan at week's end. If we were to ambush him and take the money, we could earn what we deserve and visit harm upon the Duke."
"Of course!" The Scholar cried. "This is why we, learned men, will be the most dangerous and famous bandits in all history! We will use our knowledge to create an ambush that none can escape!"
"I do not feel," said the Monk, "that such crimes suit me. I will return to the Duke's palace at day break."
"We will have none of that!" replied the Scholar. "Do not consider this a crime. We all know that this money constitutes usury, which is strictly forbidden by the church. By making this theft, we are really doing the work of our Lord and Savior, sparing the souls of the Duke and Philip the White from sin!"
The Monk kept his reservations, but agreed to aid in this task.
The next day, the Monk, the Scholar and the Scribe approached the road to the Duke's palace so that they could lay their traps. "Ah!" exclaimed the Scholar, "note how the hill rises here! This hill may be viewed as a large triangle, and, as we know from Pythagoras, the length of the hypotenuse will be longer than both the length and the elevation of this hill! That known, a fleet footed lookout could sit concealed here, in these bushes, and then run through that hidden gully beside the hill, covering less distance than our quarry!"
"Truly you are wise!" replied the scribe. "I shall write this tale so that all may know of our great knowledge through the ages."
"I cannot argue that statement Scribe, but I have not yet reached the peak of my plan. Please, hold your praise until I have laid all my wisdom before you. You see, thus alerted, our Monk will stand here as bait to make the carriage slow down, and even stop, for this man of the cloth. Father, you shall lie here, making noises and claiming injury by foul bandits. That is the witty part, for you see, this ploy cleverly uses the _threat_ of bandits to disguise the behavior of bandits, to wit, us."
The Scribe laughed at this. "Not only wise, but also clever! Your wit is sharp, and your words shall be recorded."
The Scholar 'tsk'ed him, "I said, hold your praise." The Scribe apologized, and the Scholar continued. "Now, when the carriage slows, the Scribe and I shall leap out from concealment, letting surprise and superior numbers cause the carriage man to think of the better part of valor, surrendering his burden to us!"
"Elegant in its simplicity! I am astounded."
"Father Monk, what say you to our plan?"
"Why," the Monk replied, "I truly am astounded by it's simplicity, and in sooth, even the most foolish man could see what merit there is in this plan."
Pleased with his response, they ordered him to hide in the gully, for they, as the Savant Bandits, they could not be seen stained by the muck that lay at its bottom. However, the Monk was in but a simple robe, and certainly, no one would care as to his appearance.
The Monk sat and waited starting at sunup, while he could hear his fellows snoring loudly in the woods, yet, when they _did_ rise, they would chastise him for being too lax. After hours, he rose from the gully, for he saw the wagon approaching, and he recognized the driver as being a servant of Philip the White. The Monk's robes were dripping with mud and grime, and he went and alerted his allies of this.
They bade him to lay in the road and feign injury, and so he did, calling out, "Oh! The suffering! I am injured! I suffer, how I suffer, the pain my injuries are too great, I may not live," and so on.
Crouched in the bushes, the Scholar and the Scribe considered this poor performance, and remarked to themselves, "He is but a Monk, what would a religious man know of such scandalous deeds as acting? His acting will improve as time goes on, I imagine."
The wagon approached, and the wagoneer called to the Monk, "Why do you call so! It grates upon mine ears! Up, up with you, out of the road, count your rosaries elsewhere."
"Who is that?" answered the Monk. "My eyes have grown dark, I cannot see you"
"It is Paul, the Liveryman's son, set to deliver payment to the Earl of Essex, and I beg of you to leave the road and let me pass."
"You go to the castle of the Earl of Essex? I pray you, please, take me back with you- _please_ take me back!
It was at this moment that the Scholar and the Scribe leapt from their hiding places, swords brandished, crying, "'Ware passerby, for we are the Savant Bandits, and command you to give up your riches to us!"
Both the horse and her driver panicked; he snapped the reins and the mare leapt forward, jerking and bucking the cart. As this wagon was weaving about, a loose sideboard struck the head of the Monk, who had just been rising as to dodge the careening cart. He fell back to the ground, his hands clutching his head, screaming in pain, "Oh! I am injured! I suffer!"
"Oh Brother Monk," the Scholar said, looking down upon him, "It is too late for you to improve your acting now! He did not believe your ploy and thus we were foiled. The Scribe and I shall have to train you in the arts of the actor so that you can be more convincing in the future."
"Fear not though! Despite your failure," the Scribe continued, "We shall all sup together about the campfire, and I shall record how noble we were to keep you with us."
"The favor you do me is handsome, how could I possibly wish to return to my old life?" The monk replied.
Thus ended the first attempt at crime by the Savant Bandits.