A Tall Ship Tale #87: Things Could Be Verse

The continuation of Paul DeAnguera’s epic.

For a while it looked as if the British champion had won the day. But at length Hugo Phirst staggered up from his circle of Yankee handlers. Waving away any further assistance, he walked unsteadily across the H.M.S. Legume’s main deck to the hatch cover and stepped up onto it to deliver the American reply to the First Mate’s attack:


There was a Beggar in the company
That Geoffrey never spoke of; nor did he
Quite like to make allowance for his share.
His stories led to puns he could not bear.
This attitude was shared by other men
When the bedraggled figure came to them
With some feghoot or other wild tale to tell
Whose ending like an anvil always fell.
His Freudian slips betrayed an evil fever;
the Wife of Bath did not much like him either.
And so he was rebuffed by either sex
Because his plays on words were too complex.
Perhaps that’s why the road to Canterbury
Witnessed now this pilgrim in a hurry
To secure a blessing undeserved —
For Satan had a seat for him reserved.
When came the Beggar’s turn to tell a tale
It ended in a stinker, without fail.

“And now,” he said, “Consider the inquirer
Who asked a prostitute if he might hire her,
And of the monetary ratio
Between a coupling and phallacio.
‘Why, sir,’ she smiled, ‘A coupling costs a shilling.
The other’s free for any who are willing.
It is my public service now and then;
besides, I rather like the taste of men.’
‘A shilling,’ he mulled over in his mind,
‘Such fourteenth-century money’s hard to find!
I guess I’ll take the latter. Oh, but first
I must inspect your mouth — I fear the worst.’
‘I beg your pardon, sir!’ she now objected.
But he persisted. ‘It could be infected!’
‘That tears it. We are closing for the day!’
‘Did I offend you by what I did say?’
She retorted as she headed south,
‘Never look a whore’s gift in the mouth!’”

The meal was done. Our host picked up the plates
And pleaded “No more tales — it’s getting late.”
He added as he took the Beggar’s saucer,
“You must desist — for beggars can’t be Chaucers!”

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