The Prince, who had been reading in the far window niche, turned and then got respectfully to his feet at the sight of the Archdeacon. Balian had his first shock. Baldwin was a beautiful boy. He had fair hair and a well-formed face. Even his skin was flawless, albeit pale as a result of living confined to these rooms. Balian was completely baffled.
“Did you expect a boy covered with ulcers and lacking limbs?” the Archdeacon remarked with an amused glance at Balian. “As I told you, the symptoms have not yet become unequivocal. Baldwin suffers from a lack of feeling in his right hand and lower arm. That is all for now. The time may come when Baldwin is as unsightly as the beggars in our streets, but that time is not yet.” As he spoke he smiled at Baldwin, adding, “Baldwin, this is Sir Balian d’Ibelin; he has agreed to teach you how to ride.”
Balian was looking at the boy when the Archdeacon spoke. He saw Baldwin’s look of excitement, saw the light ignite—and then extinguish—in his wide blue eyes. He saw the boy’s face and shoulders fall as he admitted manfully, “I—I don’t have any feeling in my right hand. How can I ride if I can’t control my right hand?”
Balian had expected Baldwin to be more than ulcerous and crippled; he had expected him to be embittered and sullen. The boy’s unexpected politeness and calm captured Balian’s heart. Balian went down on one knee before the Prince and smiled at him. “You can, my lord. It will be more difficult, of course, but it is possible. It is possible to ride a horse completely without the use of your hands, if you will let me show you.”
The light was back in Baldwin’s eyes. “I love horses!” he exclaimed eagerly. “There is nothing I loved doing so much before as riding. I told my father that just the other day—” He cut himself off and looked sharply at his tutor. “That is why he has sent Sir Balian, isn’t it?”
The Archdeacon nodded, and Balian revised his opinion of the King, impressed that the King had been moved by his son’s longing.
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