The crocalog lay in his bower
And cared not for the day or hour.
Since he had no shame to hide
He rolled right over on his side.
And lying thus he well could hear
The stories whispered in his ear.
The babbling beck had tales to tell
Of maidens fair and ogres fell.
The tale of Princess Jaune he heard,
(Eagerly drank in every word)
Imprisoned in a castle strong
And punished though she did no wrong.
A wicked ogre passing by,
Strong Castle Toadstool caught his eye.
Now, ogres are quite insecure,
For this, there really is no cure
Brave castles lit by sunlight’s gleam
Stab right at their self-esteem.
Just to give the folk a fright
He cursed the castle – out of spite.
The curse bound all in slumber deep.
But Princess Jaune was fast asleep,
She didn’t hear the words he spoke
So she, alone uncursed, awoke.
No one came to help her dress,
The reason why she could not guess.
No maid her presence came to beg
To breakfast on a scrambled egg.
She stamped her foot with discontent
And, in her nightdress, out she went.
Into every room to peep
And found her servants fast asleep.
So then, the King and Queen she sought
Of this sad state to make report,
But found, to her distress and fear,
Both bound in sleep, her parents dear.
First, she put on her dressing-gown.
Climbed the tower, looked out and down.
Bright swords, sharp spikes, was all she saw
Closed every window, every door.
She thought of brave Sir Furze, her knight,
Who wandered far to try to fight
A dragon for his gold and land
And with these riches win her hand.
Where was he when she needed him?
Her situation now was grim.
No clothes, no food, since who knows when,
She threw a tantrum there and then
The emptiness inside her grew
So to the kitchen, down she flew.
Boxes, bags there by the score
She emptied them out on the floor
Nothing could she see to eat
In all the food around her feet.
At last, she spied a crust of bread
And hurried, with it, back to bed.
The covers pulled around her ears
She sobbed, wrapped up in all her fears.
‘Alas!’ she cried, her shoulders shook,
‘I’ll starve before I learn to cook!’
Brave Sir Furze had wandered far
Seeking lands where dragons are,
And while he sought for knightly action
He found, instead, a fair distraction.
Many a maid his talents sought
With scented notelets, phrases fraught.
Begging for a knight as he
To rescue her from sad ennui
Miss Bramble dressed in frilly white
Sought his attention to her plight
And Lady Rose of Briar Park
Declared her future grim and dark.
Now rescuing maidens in distress,
Locked hard away under duress,
In dragon danger, peril sore,
Is, indeed, what Knights are for.
But maidens waiting for the chance
To be invited to a dance,
Not chained in rags in towers tall
But finely dressed as for a ball.
While needing less a knight’s strong arm
Still need, no doubt, his Knightly charm.
To rescue seek from boredom’s pit
Is surely stretching things a bit.
But brave Sir Furze, he did his best
To rise to this, his manhood’s test,
And though he could not save them all,
He rescued several at each ball.
These maidens fair with music sweet,
Each one he would dance off her feet,
While the musicians took a break,
Rich food and wine they would partake.
Few thoughts he gave to his princess.
He doesn’t know she’s in a mess.
Unwashed and hungry, I’m afraid,
And calling on his Knightly aid.
Each day she’d climb the castle tower
And at the empty landscape glower.
No knight in shining armour rode
Just vacant vale where the beck flowed.
‘Am I a maiden in distress?
In case of doubt let me confess.
It’s plain for anyone to see,
I need my Knight to rescue me.’
Disappointment filled her heart
And soon she felt the teardrops start.
A robin, sad to hear her wrongs,
Then joined in with his doleful songs.
‘Oh, Robin, try with all your might,
Fly near and far and find my knight,
Tell him of my situation,
Waiting here for my salvation.’
The Robin cocked his head askew,
Thinking what he ought to do.
Before things could get any worse,
He sang again his mournful verse.
Then, off he flew into the sky,
All he could do would be to try
To seek her knight, as she did ask.
Indeed, it seemed a hopeless task.
Down from the tower, just by chance
In a large mirror stole a glance
Dishevelled and unkempt was she
She was no sight for knights to see.
Straightway to shower and wash her hair
(It was days since she’d been there!)
With the caress of water warm
Good thoughts came buzzing in a swarm.
‘I must desist this futile mope.
I’ll cook a meal – I’m sure I’ll cope.
I’ll leave things out wherein I lack it,
And follow just what’s on the packet.’
‘I need clean clothes, I’ll take a look,
Try to find an instruction book.
These grave issues I must address.
Am I not a royal princess?’
‘It’s time I took myself in hand.
My Knight is in a far-off land.
I know that he on me depends
While he, with dragons fierce, contends’
‘Oh Robin true, fly far and wide
Take my sad tale, sing at his side.
Tell how, for him, I greatly yearn,
To rescue me on his return.’
Dancing all night, idle by day
Sir Furze in scented bower lay.
He mused upon his dissipation
In the current situation
A robin did a sad song make,
It did not help with his headache,
‘Yes, of my conduct I’m not proud,
But Robin, please, don’t sing so loud!’
‘My Princess has great hopes of me,
How disappointed she would be
That my commitment is so weak.
I will, today, a dragon seek.’
Straightway, Sir Furze, he took to horse
Towards the mountains set his course.
‘Twas there, the thought was in his mind,
He surely would a dragon find.
Then, what a battle there would be
He would display his bravery
The fight of fights, unto the death,
Against the flaming dragon’s breath!
The clash of steel – of sword and shield
With valour both, he’d surely wield.
In his mind’s eye, he plain could see,
Himself, stood there, in victory.
The Princess grew more confident
Her meals turned out just how she meant
The clothes with which she daily dressed
Hung in her closet neatly pressed
Still, each day up the tower climbed she
Hoping for her Knight to see
Here at this high elevation
Welcome him with pure elation
But when she felt the teardrops start
These days, grave doubts tugged at her heart
Fearing, perhaps upon a whim,
The dragon had, sadly, slain him.
Sir Furze rode on and, once or twice,
He stopped to ask for some advice,
‘Are dragons found in hereabouts?’
But each he asked expressed their doubts.
Deeper he rode far in the hills
The sun obscured by cloudy chills
Through rain and sleet and thunder’s roar
At last, a tumbled inn he saw.
He asked, ‘Are dragons to be found,
Here where the mountains do abound?’
‘The Ancient Sage would surely know,
He’d kindly tell you where to go!’
‘First, shelter for me and my horse
I’ll seek this hermit in due course.
A stable where Horse can retire
For me a seat near to the fire.’
The patron showed him to a chair,
‘Please sit, Sir Knight, and if you care,
In our fire’s warmth to freely speak
Of where you came, and what you seek.’
‘I seek to win me gold and land
To beg My Princess for her hand.
To fight a dragon seems to be
The way, as far as I can see.’
‘Our Ancient Sage is wise and kind.
Politely ask what’s on your mind
He, for no charge, will answer you
Explaining what you need to do.’
‘The way is hard, the mountains high
Your horse can’t climb where eagles fly
Sword, shield and lance will hamper you
And leave behind your armour too.’
Sir Furze he went to bed unsure
These words struck at his very core
No horse, no sword, could this be right?
How would folk know he was a knight?
Sir Furze climbed on, the way was hard
Used hands and feet to gain each yard
‘Advice they gave I will endorse
This is no path for man and horse.’
At last a cavern he espied
The Ancient Sage should be inside
‘Art thou within, oh Ancient Sage?
I would, a while, with thee engage.’
A flame broke through the stygian gloom
Its flickering light lit up the room
‘Ah, welcome friend,’ rumbled a voice,
‘Come, sit or stand as is your choice.’
Sir Furze advanced into the grot
Unsure if he should sit or not.
To stand to him did seem most wise
For quick escape, should need arise
‘A dragon for his gold and land
I need to slay, you understand
This, the matter I must address
To gain the hand of my princess.’
A chuckle from the darkness came
And lit the cavern with a flame
‘See now Sir Knight just why you joke
I am the last of The Dragon-folk.’
‘This cave – my lands, I have no gold.
Wisdom I have; I’m very old.
In life there are diverse paths but,
Which ‘er you choose, there’s no shortcut.’
‘But wait! Who’s this. Come brother bird.
It’s time your story should be heard!’
The Robin sang his sad song and
Sir Furze found he could understand.
‘Well, Sir Knight, you need not guess,
Your duty is to your princess.
Take sword and steel, and to her pledge
Your love against The Ogre’s hedge!’
Down to the inn, sword shield and horse
To save his princess by brute force
The weary miles must galop by
None bar his way. On he needs fly!
The dragon’s words ring in his mind
No gold or lands are there to find
Which all these years he sought in vain
A waste of time it now is plain
To his princess, he must return
Make plain she is his main concern
The Ogres hedge he must attack
Drive the curse, whence it came, back.
Upon the tower our princess stands
Looks out expecting barren lands
But see! Her hopes are now fulfilled
Her knight returns, he’s not been killed.
‘Princess,’ he cries, and draws his sword
‘A path I’ll hew both straight and broad
Through bushes dense I’ll drive a wedge
And free you from The Ogre’s hedge.’
He hacks away with all his might
But finds his plan does not go right.
For as he chops so the hedge grows
And soon it will behind him close.
Down from her tower the princess flies
To force the castle door she tries
Opens a crack through which to squeeze
But thorns and spikes are all she sees
From sleeping guard she wrests a blade
Carves her way through the gap she’s made
Towards her knight stretches her hand
He reaches out, their hands clasp, and …
An Ogre’s curse is made from hate
So love’s true touch does it abate.
The castle woke to a sweet sight,
Their princess brave, kissing her knight.