A Hard Knight's Work - a fable
A HARD KNIGHT'S WORK
Once upon a time, in a kingdom not so very far from here, a ferocious, fire
breathing dragon had captured a fair young maiden. As dragons are often fond of doing,
this one had locked the damsel away in it's tower, with intentions of devouring the young
lady by the next new moon.
The king of this land was a compassionate man. When he learned the plight of this
poor damsel, he quickly dispatched his most experienced knight to deliver her out of the
dragon's lair. In the king's Book of Great Deeds, Sir George had been recorded as having
removed no less than six dragons. Two of which were considerably larger and more
formidable than this one. Sir George's armor proudly bore the dents and mars of his long
and distinguished career. Beneath his armor, the scars were deeper and more profound as
George's luck with dragons was far better than his luck with maidens.
George did not relish the thought of sweeping away yet another fair maiden on his
trusty war steed, and riding into the sunset. The dragon wasn't likely to be nice about the
whole thing either, but George served his king whole-heartedly and would never turn
away from duty. He rode eastward to the reported location of the dragon's tower,
wondering what tact he might use to save the day this time.
Upon arrival, Sir George was daunted by the size and sheerness of the immense
tower of polished black basalt. There was no place to get a purchase on this structure.
Scaling it would be impossible. From the upper story, the roof was open, so that the
dragon might fly to and from the tower at will. Beyond bowshot, up the side of the tower,
was a single barred window. At the base of the tower, was a solid, cast iron door that was
obviously locked or barred from within. Inscribed upon the door, was a powerful spell
that would signal the dragon, should anyone breach the door. The only way to the damsel
was going to have to be the door, and he would have to fight the dragon to win her, he
thought. So George calls up to the maiden:
"Fair maiden, I have come to rescue thee!"
The maiden looked out from her tower room, to see this battered looking knight
calling from below and lamented.
"Oh, I am most miserable of all the land's maidens," she cried, "for the king must
despise my poor station in life to send such an ancient and seedy knight for me!"
"Not so, dear lady." replied George, "I am the king's best and most experienced
knight for this rescue. He would have you returned home safely. Perchance, could you
unbar yon door from within?"
"It is possible." she said, "but I would rather die than not be rescued by a true
knight of the realm, of handsome countenance and shining armor. I will wait until the king
sends a real knight to rescue me."
"Oh fair lady," pleaded George, "the new moon is only days away and this dragon
will devour you if I do not get you out before then. Please, do not dally."
"Oh, lecherous old one," huffed the maiden, "you just want me to yourself. Return
to your king and say that I would have a true knight to deliver me or I die at the new
At once, George spurred his mount and raced back to the castle. At wits end, he
reported to the king:
"Your majesty, I don't know what to do as this maiden refuses to be rescued by the
likes of myself," he said. "She prefers you send a more dashing and debonair knight to
"And out of what reserve would I pull such a creature?" asked the king. "You are
the very best knight I have. You may ask of the nobles present, but none are so capable as
yourself for this task."
Sir George inquired of Sir Roderick for his aid in this rescue.
"Oh, dangerous business this, with irate dragons and all that," said Roderick. "Is
she a lovely maiden? Does her father own much land?"
"She is fair to the eye." replied George, "but her father died landless, and there is
but herself, her mother and sister sharing a small farmstead."
"Well," said Roderick, "a man of my means cannot take undue risks charging off
after just any poor strumpet who wishes to throw a tantrum in a dragon's tower. Now
can I? Sir Jason, is available, I hear. You might want to inquire of him."
Sir George set out to find Sir Jason within the castle, only to find him supping ale
in the tavern, telling tales of his valor in battle to the enrapt tavern wenches.
"...and thus is how I sent the mad terrier of Yorkshire, scampering away in fear,
with his tail betwixt his legs," finished Sir Jason, slopping ale to his lips.
"If I might have a word with you, Jason?" George queried. "I have yet another
adventure you may consider."
"Enough tales, my ladies of refreshment, duty calls yet again for me." boasted
Jason, gesturing extravagantly. "And what fair morsel, er, damsel, requires my most
tender attentions, Sir George?"
"A fair lady, to be sure, Jason." confided George, "and she waits to be rescued by
only the dashing likes of a knight such as yourself."
"A lady of refined taste, it appears," Jason drawled, "and what menacing farm boy
troubles yon maiden? Not to worry, I will trounce the young dolt within an inch of his
"Not a menacing farm boy, my friend, but a dragon has captured her," said
"Dragon, you say?" asked Jason, eyes bulging wildly.
"I'm afraid so, my friend, and she will only permit herself to be rescued by the
handsomest of knights in the most dazzling of armors." said George.
"My friend," growled Jason, "as you well know, one does not maintain one's dashing looks
and dazzling armor by trifling with fire breathing lizards. If you will, I will
return to regaling yon wenches with my tales of heroism. I'm feeling lucky this night."
There were no other knights available to ask and George mounted his steed to
make one last plea to the reluctant damsel before the upcoming new moon. He rode like
the wind in his race against time. He had lost too much time in searching for a proper
knight to rescue her. He feared for her life.
Upon arrival at the tower, he called out to her:
"Fair damsel, it is I, Sir George!"
"And whom have you brought to rescue me?" replied the maiden.
"There is none who would come, save I," said George, "but fear not, I may yet
rescue thee, if you will just unbar yon enchanted iron door from within. I will slay the
dragon, and return you home to your family."
"Nobody loves me!" wept the maiden, "I am left to the rough care of this battered
old warhorse. I will accept my fate here. The dragon has been hunting the countryside,
perhaps it will not be hungry this new moon."
Sir George did not flinch as he waited at the tower's base. The dragon returned to
the upper reaches of the tower and devoured the maiden with much screaming. There was
nothing George could do. The dragon would not come down to fight him for the maiden,
as the dragon already had the maiden. Dejectedly, Sir George returned to his king to
"How has this horrible thing happened?" the king asked incredulously. "I sent my best and
most trusted knight to rescue a maiden from a dragon, and the dragon won
without a fight? How will I bear to write such a story in my Book of Great Deeds?"
"As it happened on my watch," George said solemnly, "perhaps I should write the
entry for his majesty."
"Thank you, Sir George." said the king, "For my heart is fair broken at this
Many years later, long after the king and his knights had passed on to their fathers,
the Book of Great Deeds was opened and read to the great, great grandchildren of those
long forgotten heroes. This curious passage was found and troubled over:
"Let not your heart be troubled, my king. There are so many maidens in this land,
and so few men of valor to protect them all. Remember the dragons are a vanishing breed
of ancient times and they need to eat too. Lately have I learned, that no matter how
sincerely or how hard one tries, one may not rescue a fool from themselves. Your own,