The spring rains had softened the ground, so Dunk had no trouble digging the grave. He chose a spot on the western slope of a low hill, for the old man had always loved to watch the sunset. "Another day gone," he would sigh, "and who knows what the next day will bring us, right, Dunk?"
Well, one day had brought rains that soaked them to the bones, and the one after had brought wet gusty winds, and the next a chill. By the fourth day the old man was too weak to drive. And now he was gone. Only a few days ago, he had been singing as they drove, the old song about going to Gulltown to see a pretty girl, but instead of Gulltown he'd sung of Ashford. Off to Ashford to see a pretty girl, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, Dunk thought miserably as he dug.
When the hole was deep enough, he lifted the old man's body in his arms and carried him there. He had been a small man, and slim; stripped of uniform, helmet, and holder, he seemed to weigh no more than a bag of leaves. Dunk was hugely tall for his age, a shambling, shaggy, big-boned sixteen year old boy who was almost seven feet tall, and had only just begun to grow. The old man had often praised his strength. He had always been generous in his praise. It was all he had to give.
He laid him out in the bottom of the grave and stood over him for a little bit. The smell of rain was in the air again, and he knew he ought to fill the hold before the rain broke, but it was hard to throw dirt down on that tired old face. There should be a pastor here, to say some prayers over him, but he only has me. The old man had taught Dunk all he knew of guns and driving, but he had never been much good at teaching him words.
"I'd leave your gun, but it would go to waste in the ground," he said at last, apologetic. "The gods will give you a new one, I guess. I wish you didn't die, sir." He paused, uncertain what else needed to be said. He didn't know any prayers, not all the way through; the old man had never been much for praying. "You were a good knight, and you never beat me when I didn't deserve it," he finally managed, "except that one time in Maidenpool. It was the other boy who at the pie, not me, I told you. It doesn't matter now. The gods take care of you, sir." He kicked dirt in the hole, then began to fill it methodically, never looking at the thing in the bottom. He had a long life, Dunk thought. He was 58, and how many men can say that? At least he had lived to see another spring.
It was past noon as he cleaned the vehicles. There were three; their car, his motorcycle, and the old man's motorcycle, who was ridden only in races. It was more valuable than anything else Dunk owned. If I sold his motorcycle and the car, I'd come away with enough money to… Dunk frowned. The only life he knew was the life of a knight, riding to cities and forts, taking service with a lord or commander, fighting in their battles and eating in their dining halls until the war was done, then moving on. There were races from time to time as well, though less often, and he knew that some knights turned into criminals during winters, though the old man never had.
I could find another knight in need of a squire to clean his car and wash his clothes, he though, or I might go to some city, to Lannisport or King's Landing, and join the police. Or else…
He had piled the old man's things under a tree. The wallet contained 49 dollars and a shipped garnet; as with most knights, the greatest part of his money had been spent on his vehicles and guns. Dunk now owned a knight uniform that he had washed a thousand times, a helmet with a dent on the left temple, a holder of brown leather, a machine gun strapped in leather, a pistol, a combat knife, some bullets, and a pin with the symbol of Sir Arlan of Pennytree: a silver winged cup.
Dunk looked at the pin, picked up the holder, and looked at the pin again. The holder's strap was made for the old man's skinny hips. It would never do for him, no more than the uniform would. He tied the holder to some rope, knotted it around his waist, and picked up the machine gun.
The gun was a heavy, nicely manufactured, with the grip wrapped in leather. Plain as it was, the gun felt good in his hands, and Dunk knew how precise it was, having fired it at a tree many times before they went to sleep.
He couldn't wait for the race at Ashford Meadow.