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.

Good night.