THE TALE OF THE OGRE
Day 1, Tale 1
retold in rhyme by Laura J. Bobrow
There was once a poor woman who had
six daughters and one stupid lad,
Antuono by name. You’re my curse. You’re my shame.
You were switched in the cradle. You’re bad.
Antuono just lazied about,
wouldn’t listen as loud as she’d shout.
She could stand it no more and so, opening the door,
beat him soundly, and then threw him out.
He meandered with no place to go.
It grew dark and it threatened to snow.
He trudged on until, at the edge of a hill,
stood a grotto upon a plateau.
Perched up high on the branch of a tree
was an ogre so ugly to see
any man would have quailed, and his face would have paled.
But Antuono went down on one knee,
doffed his hat and said, How do you do?
Then he tried to converse with him, too.
Can I help you get down? and How far’s the next town?
It’s a pleasure, kind sir, to meet you.
The ogre laughed, more like a bray.
He said, Son, I will hire you this day.
Antuono said, Whoa. There’s a thing I must know.
Tell me how much you’d ask me to pay.
The ogre said, At my domain
you will find you’ve no need to complain.
We’ll have good times. You’ll see. And your lodging is free.
I’m in need of a lad of no brain.
For two years he lived as a son.
The workload was little or none.
It was pleasant. But then he developed a yen
to see how his mother had done.
You may visit a week and a day.
Take my donkey to ride on your way,
but take heed what you’re told. Don’t say, ‘Donkey, drop gold.’
You’ll regret it to your dying day.
Antuono set off at a trot.
As for “thank you,” he plainly forgot.
And, once out of sight, he dismounted. All right,
am I going to regret it or not?
He said, Donkey, nice donkey, drop gold.
And there on the ground to behold
were fine diamonds and coins from the good donkey’s loins,
as much as the panniers could hold.
Antuono soon came to an inn.
Feed my donkey and bed him within.
But take heed what you’re told. Don’t say, ‘Donkey, drop gold’
or your tongue will be stuck to your chin.
But of course that is just what was said
once Antuono was drunk and in bed.
Then a new beast, alas, was exchanged for his ass
and the bags filled with rubble instead.
Antuono called, Mother, come see!
Spread your linens. How rich we will be!
She went to her chest and she laid out her best
where the donkey was tied to a tree.
He’ll drop gold, said Antuono, no doubt!
Nothing happened. He started to shout
and he beat the poor beast who, in terror, released
what with donkeys would naturally come out.
Take your ‘gold’ and get out of my place!
As a son you’re a total disgrace!
Antuono, so spurned, dragged his heels and returned
to the ogre with crestfallen face.
It’s an absolute dimwit who can
be so tricked by that old charlatan,
said the ogre. This time you be careful, for I’m
sending home a new cloth, spick-and-span.
But mind, if you value your nose,
do not say to it ‘Open’ and ‘Close.’
That’s for Mother to say. Now you go on your way.
Did he listen? What do you suppose?
He had not gone but forty-five feet
when he said in a voice that was sweet,
Open, cloth. Lunchtime’s near. Show me what we have here.
But the cloth showed him nothing to eat.
What the cloth held was treasure galore.
Oh! Then close! But he stopped as before
at the very same inn where the donkey had been.
And the landlord knew what was in store.
Keep this cloth, said Antuono, locked tight
where it won’t meet with someone who might
say the words,‘Open’ ‘Close.’ Now I’ll take my repose.
He got drunk and he slept through the night.
The landlord, of course, made the switch.
There was no way to tell which was which.
When Antuono had left he was newly bereft
and the landlord exceedingly rich.
Not aware that the trick had been played,
he said, Mother, our fortune is made!
He said Open and Close just as long as he chose,
but no treasure appeared. There it stayed.
It’s that landlord! He’s hoodwinked me twice!
I did not heed the ogre’s advice.
He went back, all forlorn. Ah, me. Why I was born!
Now the ogre was no longer nice.
I should actually tear you apart.
You have disobeyed me from the start.
I said ‘Don’t say a word.’ And as if you’d not heard
you spoke all that you bore in your heart.
And the riches I wanted to give
to keep you as long as you live,
you have frittered away. You must leave here today.
Your foolish mind leaks like a sieve.
Take this club in remembrance of me.
Do not say,‘Up’ or ‘Down’ or you’ll see
what my magic can do. Now be off. We are through.
Antuono walked out tearfully.
I will keep still forever, he thought.
But he soon forgot all he was taught.
He said, Let me just see what this magic could be.
He said, Up, club. There came an onslaught
of blows to the head. Thwick! and Thwack!
He was beaten with never a slack.
When he finally said Down there were lumps on his crown,
but he knew how to get his goods back.
Antuono went right to the inn.
Don’t say,‘Up, Club,’ he warned with a grin.
He went off to bed. Then the innkeeper said,
Ah, another! What joys are within?
Up, club, he commanded with glee.
The club hit him hard, instantly,
with a biff, bam and bop! He could not make it stop.
Antuono, he cried, rescue me!
You may die, yawned Antuono. But stay,
give me back what you’ve stolen away
and I’ll save you. Oh, yes. Anything I possess,
only make it stop beating, I pray!
Once Antuono had both gifts in hand,
he said Down, and the club, on command,
stopped the beating. Now I must be off, sir. Goodbye!
I’m no longer your fool, understand.
So the lad and his mother did well.
They had treasure aplenty to sell.
His six sisters were wed, and most everyone said,
That Antuono? You never can tell!
Copyright © 2019 Laura J. Bobrow. All rights reserved