Day 2, Tale 10
retold in rhyme by Laura J. Bobrow
There lived a miser and his wife. Their riches were immense,
although they lived quite frugally to save a few more cents.
They ate but very little, yet each time they sat to sup,
a buddy who was passing by did not fail to turn up.
He would gawk and drool and ogle at each morsel he could see.
And they, at last, obeying rules of hospitality
were forced to say, Sit down. Take part in our most humble meal.
If you insist, the sponge would say, and fall to with a zeal
which was unmatched by any glutton since the world was new.
He’d roll his eyes and grind his teeth and swallow whole things, too,
until, at last, with tummy full, he’d grab a jug of wine
and glug it down entirely. With face incarnadine,
he’d take his leave. But sure as rain when next time came to eat
he’d happen to be passing by in time for a repeat.
Then one day news arrived that their good buddy was away.
Quick, wife, the miser said, we’ll get to dine alone today.
I’ll visit the fishmonger to procure a tasty eel
while you prepare a pizza bread. We’ll have a special meal.
All was prepared. A flask of wine was opened furthermore.
But just as they sat down there came a knocking at the door.
He’s here! the miser cried, but he’ll not have his way with me.
He hid the eel behind a cupboard. Moving hastily,
his wife grabbed up the mattress where she shoved the pizza bread,
and the flask of wine was hidden underneath the couple’s bed.
The miser dove beneath the table. Cloth hung to the ground
but a tiny little hole enabled him to look around.
Meanwhile the buddy saw all this while peering through a crack.
And when the wife had opened up the door, he cried, I’m back!
Imagine what occurred while I was waiting in the street!
A huge enormous snake appeared and slid across my feet.
How big it was, how fat around, I find it hard to say,
but I’d swear it was as big as that fat eel you stowed away.
In my horror I picked up a stone to bash it on the head,
as hefty as the wine flask that you slipped beneath the bed,
and I flattened him as flat as that good pizza bread you hid
beneath the mattress. Yes, I killed the snake. That’s what I did,
but before it died the snake looked up and fixed me in a stare
exactly like your husband underneath the table there!
Enough! the miser shouted as he struggled to get loose.
Now I see quite clearly I’ve been acting like a goose.
We’ve been welcoming a buddy who perchance was passing by.
But now I see that really we’ve been harboring a spy!
We offered you a finger but, oh no, you grabbed the hand
like an avaricious army when it occupies a land.
From today, don’t waste your footsteps. You won’t get another crumb.
I may be called a miser but I’ll not be labeled dumb.
This was straight talk, a speech designed to scald his listener’s ears.
The buddy when he heard it was reduced to guilty tears.
Are we not still friends? he offered. No, the miser said, we’re not!
With tail between his legs the buddy left that fruitful spot,
and like a thief caught in the act, a sorry specimen,
he never stopped, nor once looked back, and never came again.
Copyright © 2019 Laura J. Bobrow. All rights reserved.