How Thomas A Maid From A Dragon Released

A poem by Guy Wetmore Carryl

Though Philip the Second
Of France was reckoned
No coward, his breath came short
When they told him a dragon
As big as a wagon
Was waiting below in the court!
A dragon so long, and so wide, and so fat,
That he couldn't get in at the door to chat:
The king couldn't leave him
Outside and grieve him,
He had to receive him
Upon the mat,

The dragon bowed nicely,
And very concisely
He stated the reason he'd called:
He made the disclosure
With frigid composure.
King Philip was simply appalled!
He demanded for eating, a fortnight apart,
The monarch's ten daughters, all dear to his heart.
"And now you'll produce," he
Concluded, "the juicy
And succulent Lucie
By way of start!"

King Philip was pliant,
And far from defiant
--"And servile," no doubt you retort!--
But if you struck a snag on
A bottle-green dragon,
Who filled up two-thirds of your court,
And curled up his tail on your new tin roof,
And made your piazza groan under his hoof,
Would you threaten and thunder,
Or just knuckle under
Completely, I wonder,
If put to proof?

By way of a truce, he
Brought out little Lucie
And watched her conducted away,
But all of the others
Were out with their brothers!
Thus gaining a little delay,
He promised through heralds sent west and east,
His crown, and his kingdom, and last, not least,
His daughter so sightly
To any one knightly
Who'd come and politely
Wipe out that beast!

For love of the charmer,
Arrayed in his armor,
Each suitor for glory who yearned,
Would gallantly hasten,
The dragon to chasten,
But none of them ever returned!
When the dragon had eaten some sixteen score
He hung up this sign on his cavern door,
Whereat he lay pronely
In majesty lonely:

There's Standing Room Only
For Three Knights More!

A slim adolescent,
His beard only crescent,
Rode up at this stage of the game
To where the old sinner
Lay gorged with his dinner,
And breathing out torrents of flame.
He gathered a tip from the flaunting sign,
And took his position the fourth in line,
Until, as foreboded,
By food incommoded,
The dragon exploded
At half-past nine.

The king was delighted
At first when he sighted
The victor, but then in dismay
Regretted his promise.
The stripling was Thomas,
His Majesty's valet-de-pied!
He asked him at once: "Will you compromise?"
But Thomas looked straight in his master's eyes,
And answered severely:
"I see your game clearly,
And scorn it sincerely.
Hand out the prize!"

Not long did he linger
Before on the finger
Of Lucie he fitted a ring:
A month or two later
They made him dictator,
In place of the elderly king:
He was lauded by pulpit, and boomed by press,
And no one had ever a chance to guess,
Beholding this hero
Who ruled like a Nero,
His valor was zero,
Or something less.

The Moral: And still from Nice to Calais
Discretion's the better part of--

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