Ben Oostdam story # 232


(by John K. Nixon)

Through all the counties far and wide
Of England’s pleasant countryside
The tales continue to be told
Of Toby Shakingstaff, The Bold.

In mediaeval times ‘twas said
To Toby none could e’er compare
When bravery was called upon
He’d volunteer when none would dare.

The legend of Sir Toby’s feats
In quaffing jugs of ale and stout
Was known among the many friends
Of this endearing layabout.

Above all else his fame endures
And never fails to raise a laugh
For what befell one summer eve
The Bold Sir Toby Shakingstaff.

’Twas in the local tavern where
The rumour spread that in the shire
A fearsome dragon had been spied
With flashing eyes and breathing fire.

At this Sir Toby raised his beer.
There’s no such thing as Dragons he
Declared for all patrons to hear.
I’ll prove it to you. Wait and see!

Later that night at closing time
Sir Toby left the tavern door.
With florid face and sweaty brow
He staggered off across the moor.

As bold Sir Toby weaved and swayed
And stars did twinkle in the sky
The benighted knight that night did see
A sight that strained credulity.

There suddenly appeared before
The unsuspecting man a beast
Of aspect fearsome and profane.
Sir Toby’s forward motion ceased.

He stared with unbelieving eyes
At that which filled his field of vision..
’Tis all that ale that’s stewed my brain
Quoth he. ’Tis but an apparition.

The creature reared above his head
And glared as Shakingstaff recoiled.
Its eyes glowed with a fiery red
And steam from out its nostrils boiled.

The body of the beast was sheathed
In scales of putrid green and gold.
Flames flickered forth each time it breathed.
Sir Toby felt no longer bold.

He turned about and fled post haste
Along the twisting moorland track.
The dragon followed in his wake
Its breath now scorching Toby’s back.

The pair soon passed the tavern door
Where stood the tavern keeper who
Looked on in wondrous surprise
As past the pub the duo flew.

Sir Toby now was short of breath,
His body in a state of shock.
Just as he sensed impending death
He stumbled on an errant rock.

Fast through the air Sir Toby flew
To land spread-eagled in the mire.
The chase it seemed was ended now.
Sir Toby’s fate was looking dire.

But dragons are a hefty breed
Momentum did the rest you see.
Above the prostrate knight it soared
In powerful trajectory.

Now just beyond the hapless knight
There loomed a cliff precipitous
The dragon in its headlong flight
Was captive to its impetus.

Some people claim that they have seen
A dragon fly. But others swear
The creature’s puny wings are not
Designed its heavy weight to bear.

In any case as down the cliff
The dragon fell, its wings could not
Arrest the monster’s fatal plunge
Down to a hard and rocky spot.

A cry bloodcurdling rent the air
A shriek that rose up to the skies.
A pile of scales and hissing steam
Were all that marked the beast’s demise.

And so ‘tis said that if you plan
To slay a pestilential dragon,
As shown by Toby Shakingstaff,
It best be done while off the wagon.

BLO copied it 20070115 - stories
Thanks, John, for allowing me to use your fine ballad!