A Knave's Tale
Rick the Ruler
Now shall I discover this heavy tale,
Summon remembrance of things newly past
When the tamed reclined in nightgowns
And merely marked the leet’s decrees,
As our gentlemen and maidens were wont.
Well-hid, a trickster poison’d a young lad:
The knave declar’d his base plot for riches:
To rob the shrunk shanks whom age hath waylaid.
Embarked the pick-purses on their task
Filling their chests with stolen shillings
That one changed for ‘shrewed addiction.
Henceforward, with no caution he robbed
Till he mistook a watchman for a wyte
Who interrupted his act and struck him
When roll’d the snake away from his firm grasp.
Warn’d the sheriff, “Tame thyself thither, knave.”
Unawares the dagger the boy kept hid.
Mocking him, the boy aimed up the blade
To fright poor constable with his hissing.
The boy bethought a most vile slaughter
For burned once then in hellfire if he
Follow’d that course to its final end. He fled.
‘A thief!,” the watch cried to his fellows.
In a wood, another knight thrust at the lad
Who ‘scaped wounds and returned the tilt.
Afeard creature facing cur and corner
Thus apace he hied from his hunters
Turning sharply to lose his pursuers.
His bosom burned, he gasped for breath
And he thrust his body perforce into
A man and set forth into an old house.
Beneath the hollows ‘twixt the thatched reeds
What then befell him? Wretched David sat
and physic’d himself with mandrogora.
To him, aye reeked of something rotten.
The lad begged: ‘A sword, I beseech thee.”
Though fap, produced he a caliver.
Amassed the power under the moon
But the lad filched a steed and vanish’d,
Avaunt! Gallop’d he apace o’er the road
Till Pegasus shuddered and threw him
Back to the field to combat yon hunter.
The caliver shot, the musket smoky:
Away ran the watch, out ran munition.
He counterfeited in desperation;
Thus did he put the gun to a maiden’s
Pate and threat her with not aught. Twas’ this feign
That made him foreswear the wickedness and
Pound the stones like a hare from hungry hounds.
Present he was overwhelm’d and trap’d
The boy was caught in a ring of his foes
and made surrender to the envious
crowd that killed him while the forlorn howled.
Dost thou see’st the moral? The misdeeds for
Money metamorphosed to monster
a rascal who couldn’t stay his descent.
If such base course be thy chosen mission,
Then thou shalt find thy mere perdition.