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A little Neglect May Breed Great Mischief – A Reprint-ish Sort of Thingy

Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22627 – 935

Here’s the haps:

There are times when I write a joke or a story or, more usually, a combination and I go back and re-read it and I think, “That’s really good. Did I write that?” Of course, there are opposite times as well. “Who writes this junk‽ What drivel!” I often reprint here some of each. I have been looking over some old stuff I posted with the idea of posting some items again but I discovered that some of you have been following me for a while now which honors and humbles me but at the same time but also presents a problem. I have to look at the comments of a post and see who commented and decide whether it might not be too early to do a repost. This is a tweaked version of something I did a few years ago. For the sake of newer readers who may not be as familiar with English idioms as others, this little poem has been around since the 1300s. The version I am using comes from Benjamin Franklin’s own Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1758. He prefaced it with:

A Little Neglect May Breed Great Mischief

For want of a nail, the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe, the horse was lost.
For want of a horse, the rider was lost.
For want of a rider, the battle was lost.
For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Benjamin Franklin

This got my imagination going and I came up with:

Sir George the Good Knight

(the original date stamp on this file was 10/14/03)

Sir George the Good Knight stood surrounded by the minions of the Dark Kingdom.  “The Kingdom is mine, Sir George.  Surrender to me now and I will only put out your eyes and make you a slave in my house.” The Black Knight was saying.  With odds of twelve heavily armed and armored soldiers against him, with no armor, his only option would be to get the Black Knight, easily twice his size and weight without armor, to fight him.  It could be deadly too, but it would be a chance.

“Come and fight me man to man you foul-scented, un-weaned son of a mongrel cur!” Sir George shouted. The men snickered slightly and watched their leader to see what he would do with such a bold-faced insult.

“Ha-ha-ha-ha!  Sir George thinks to bait me.”  The black Knight leaned forward and prodded Sir George in the chest with his lance.  “I have no intention of dignifying your insults or letting you bait me into some sort of trick.  My men have you and I have the kingdom!”

“Coward!  Knave!  Filthy dog!  I wish you were clean enough for me to spit on!”  He spat on the Black Knight’s armor. The men gasped.

“Fool!”  The point of the Black knight’s lance pushed Sir George backward into the pool of his horse’s blood.

“Poor beast,” George thought. “How could this have happened in the first place?”  Was all really lost?  He thought of the tragic loss of the steed in whose blood he now so unceremoniously sat.  A noble animal unto the very end, he had been racing on his way to the battle at breakneck speed, knowing that every rider was valuable to the cause when the horse had pitched violently forward, throwing him off.  At the same time, he heard a sickening, snapping sound.  After the agonizingly difficult process of wriggling out of the armor that trapped him on the ground and realizing the miracle of being alive at all, he walked over to the whinnying animal.  While dispatching the animal as humanely as he could he saw the shoe hanging oddly from the hoof of the broken leg and the tree root sticking out of the ground.

At that moment, this party of enemy raiders had come along as well.  He had almost made it to the battle, too.

“You know you could never best me on a fair field of battle you lily-livered boy!” He said to the Black Knight again.  “You remember how I humbled you at the games before.  You are not fit to lead these men, you notable coward!”  He turned to the men surrounding him, “If your leader is a coward, and fearful to fight man to man, a man half his size, what does that make all of you?”  All heads turned toward the leader.  George knew these types of men only respected strength and boldness.  He hoped he could play them into his hand.

Why had the horseshoe come loose, he wondered? As he sat in the blood-mud against the corpse of the formerly powerful animal he inspected the foot more closely while the men argued heatedly amongst themselves.  He knew he could never make a break for it so he sat and examined the bent shoe.  It took a lot of force to bend a horseshoe, but it had struck the root so hard that the shoe was bent slightly.  He had been traveling at full speed and something caused the sure-footed creature to catch on the tree root.  Looking more closely still, he counted the nails.  Could it be possible?  He counted twice.  He knew there should be seven; four on the outside and three on the inside, but sure enough, a nail was missing in the front!  The regular farrier had been ill, and the big, stupid apprentice had shod the horse.  “Fool I am!  In my hurry to fly to the battle I had not inspected the work.  Why did I trust that worthless apprentice?”  He thought with anguish.  Now, for want of that nail, the shoe was lost and for want of the shoe, the horse, that beautiful, noble, faithful steed, friend, and companion for years, was lost.  Of course, the loss of the horse meant the loss of himself to the battle and that battle had cost the kingdom.

The Black Knight was getting off his horse now.  “Will you fight me hand-to-hand, then?  No rules? To the death?  Neither armor nor weapons.”  The men had put pressure on their leader and he was in a predicament.  If he did not fight Sir George, who was half his size, after such a challenge and the many taunts, his men could walk away and his victory would be turned into chaos.  Not relishing the possible loss of all he had gained, yet remembering the humbling he had suffered at the games so long ago, he had no choice.

“Let me remove my armor and I will fight you and I shall kill you.”

The Black Knight removed his helmet to reveal none other than the apprentice farrier!

“You!  You killed my horse and tried to kill me!  How could this be?”

“I have observed you in the kingdom for a long time. While people thought me stupid they spoke freely of matters of the kingdom.  It was simple to plan and to prepare.  I had only hoped to stall you from the battlefield, but this has worked out far better than I had ever dreamed.”

As the black Knight removed the last of his armor Sir George flew at his knees and then ensued a battle to be sung of in ballads around campfires for generations afterward.  The Black Knight and Sir George traded tricks and blows, slipping and sliding in the mud created by the blood of the horse.

Finally, the Black Knight feinted, and as he did he took a misstep over the very root the horse had stumbled on.  He reeled backward and George plunged after him, forcing his enemy’s head to hit the ground with a sickening crack.  He finished killing his enemy and slowly rose to find himself being cheered and slapped on the back by those around him. 

“Good show, that!”

“Cracked his skull right proper!”

“Never saw a fight like it!”

“He almost lost a couple of times, but he looked over at that there horse and a fury came on ‘im, it did!” 

“Aye, like a madman he fought!”

With many such other accolades, they spoke amongst each other.  He was their new leader.  He could now regain the kingdom.  Apparently, the rider had not been lost.


12 responses to “A little Neglect May Breed Great Mischief – A Reprint-ish Sort of Thingy”

  1. Jacqui Murray Avatar

    I really like the ending. Nicely told. I am a new reader so this was all fresh to me.

    1. Herb Avatar

      Thank you. Welcome to my blog! Feel free to have a cup of coffee and look around. A lot of people like the About Me page saying it’s kind of different, but the complimentary tastings button will give you a random post, good or bad, lol..

  2. Mr. Ohh's Sideways View Avatar

    An interesting take on a simple proverb. I like it a lot. Worthy of Sir Herb the Bard of Colorado
    Laughter forever after

    1. Herb Avatar

      lol. Thank you, kind sir!

  3. achme24gmailcom Avatar

    One way to state it

    1. Herb Avatar


  4. Geoff Stamper Avatar

    It does not take much of a prompt for you to gallop off to battle with your wit and words.

    1. Herb Avatar

      I love it, you know.

  5. J P Avatar

    I love the word farrier. “Cinderella was visited by two fairies. One was more human in appearance, while the other was farrier.”

    1. Herb Avatar

      🤣😅🤣😅 I really did laugh out loud. I just wish I’d thought of it first.

  6. haoyando Avatar

    So true. A horseshoe nail is as important as anything. Often it is the devil in the detail that throws one off one’s horse, from where all the mischief starts.

    1. Herb Avatar

      Very true.

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