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David Lewis Paget

Rookie - 595 Points (22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

The Dwarf of Nightingale


Nightingale was a hunting lodge
At the time of Baron Blood,
He was holed up there for a month or so
While the Tamar was in flood,
His knights went after a suckling pig
That they brought back to the Hall,
‘We’d best be merry and feast, my Lord,
Or there’ll be no fun at all.’

The waters rose and it cut them off
By the monastery at Bede,
So they made to raid the Monk’s own stocks
And they carried back the mead,
The hounds lay panting around the hearth
And the knights caroused ‘til dawn,
But the waters of the Tamar lay
Close round them every morn.

A cottage lay on the old floodway
By the side of a river wharf,
The waters drove a yeoman out
And his wife, a pretty dwarf,
They made their way to the hunting lodge
And begged that they might come in,
‘I’m Olaf, you are my liege, my Lord
And my wife is Tamerlin.’

‘And what do you bring? ’ said Baron Blood,
Who looked for a little sport,
‘We’re all entombed ‘til the waters fall,
‘So what do you bring to court? ’
‘I’m simply a yeoman, with one hide
That’s drowned in the river mud,
Along with my only ploughshare…’
‘That’s a pity, ’ said Baron Blood.

‘What of the geld you owe to me,
And how do you think you’ll pay? ’
‘I throw myself on your mercy, Lord,
To pay you another day.
The river flooded the pasture, and
My crop lies under the mud, ’
‘Perhaps your wife has a way to pay, ’
Said the musing Baron Blood.

‘You’ll wait at table and serve the mead
And carve the suckling pig,
And feed the hounds at the hearth tonight
While your wife can show a leg,
We’ll have her dancing from dusk to dawn
Each knight can take his turn,
For Tamerlin pays your geld tonight
If she lasts from dusk ‘til dawn.’

Then Olaf looked at his Tamerlin
And he brushed away a tear,
But she looked bold at the Baron Blood,
‘I will stand the test, no fear! ’
They helped to set up the feast that night
And they whispered soft and low,
‘If one should harm a hair of your head
I will kill, before I go! ’

She put one finger up to her lips
And she whispered, ‘I’ll be true!
I’ll not be whirled off my feet by one
Who is half the man as you.’
She took a skewer and she stuck the pig
Right through to the other side,
‘I may be small but my heart is big
And I’m still your darling bride.’

The sun went down and the mead came out
As he went to feed the hounds,
The Baron called on a lute to play
From a doorway to the grounds,
Then Tamerlin had begun to dance
And sway as she said she would,
Her dress had swished on the earthen floor,
Out where the Baron stood.

The knights were steadily getting drunk
And the Baron stood and swayed,
‘Now hitch that dress to your waist, ’ he said,
‘If you want your geld to be paid.’
She dropped her eyes and she blushed, and cried
But she lifted up her dress,
To show the legs that were short, deformed
And the Baron laughed, no less!

The Baron laughed and the knights had laughed
At the legs of Tamerlin,
She dropped the dress and she burst in tears
And she cried, ‘You’ve seen my sin! ’
They didn’t ask her to dance again
But they drank until the morn,
Then fell about in a drunken swoon
As she lay apart, forlorn.

A silence fell as the sun came up
When she rose and took a skewer,
Walked to the sleeping Baron, and
She thrust it in his ear,
She thrust it in til it came on out
All blood on the other side,
‘You won’t be laughing again, ’ she said,
‘Or shaming Olaf’s bride! ’

They took a skewer to every knight
And they did the same to them,
In, and out at the other side,
A Hall of skewered men,
The waters, they were receding as
Her head, in pride upheld,
Remarked, ‘It’s time we were leaving,
We have truly paid the geld! ’

Nightingale was a hunting lodge
That sank in a sea of mud,
You’d have to dig right down to find
The body of Baron Blood,
The woods grew up in the pasture fields
And covered the grisly tale,
Where lovers walk and will cease their talk
At the song of a Nightingale.

1 February 2014

Submitted: Saturday, February 01, 2014

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