Shaggy Dog Story

Brave Sir Lunchalot was travelling through foreign parts. Suddenly, there was a flash of lightning and a deafening crack of thunder, and the rain started bucketing down. Fearing rust, he headed for the nearest shelter, Duke Ethelfred’s castle. He arrived to find the Duke’s wife, Lady Gingerbere weeping piteously.

Sir Lunchalot liked attractive young ladies, and for a brief moment he noticed a distinct glint through Gingerbere’s tears. Ethelfred was very old and frail, he observed…Only one thing, he vowed would deter him from a secret tryst with the Lady — the one thing in all the world that he could not stand.


Having greeted the Duke, Lunchalot enquired why Gingerbere was so sad.

“It is my uncle Elpus,” she explained. “He died yesterday.”

“Permit me to offer my sincerest condolences,” said Lunchalot.

“That is not why I weep so…so piteously, sir knight,” replied Gingerbere. “My cousins Gord, Evan and Liddell are unable to fulfill the terms of uncle’s will.”

“Why ever not?”

“It seems that Lord Elpus invested the entire family fortune in a rare breed of giant-riding dogs. He owned 17 of them.”

Lunchalot had never heard of a riding-dog, but he did not wish to display his ignorance in front of such a lithesome lady. But, this fear, it appeared, could be set to rest, for she said, “Although I have heard much of these animals, I ย myself have never set eyes on one.”

“They are no fit sight for a fair lady,” said Ethelfred firmly.

“And, the terms of the will —?” Lunchalot asked, to divert the direction of the conversation.

“Ah, Lord Elpus left everything to the three sons. He decreed that Gord should receive half the dogs, Evan one third, and Liddell one ninth.”

“Mmm. Could be messy.”

“No dog is to be subdivided, good knight.”

Lunchalot stiffened at the phrase good knight, but decided it had been uttered innocently and was not a pathetic attempt at humour.

“Well, —- : Lunchalot began.

“Pah, ’tis a puzzle as ancient as yonder hills!” said Ethelfred scathingly. “All you have to do is take one of your riding dogs over to the castle. Then, there are 18 of the damn things!”

“Yes, my husband, I understand the numerology, but —”

“So, the first son gets half that, which is 9; the second gets one third which is 6; the third son gets one ninth, which is 2. That makes 17 altogether, and our own dog can be taken back here!”

“Yes, my husband, but we have no one here who is manly enough to ride such a dog.”

Sir Lunchalot seized his opportunity. “Sire, I will ride your dog!” The look of admiration in Gingerbere’s eye showed him how shrewd his gallant gesture had been.

“Very well,” said Ethelfred.”I will summon my houndsman and he will bring the animal to the courtyard. Where we shall meet them.”

They waited in an archway as the rain continued to fall.

When the dog was led into the courtyard, Lunchalot’s jaw dropped so far that it was a good job he had his helmet on. The animal was twice the size of an elephant, with thick striped fur, claws like broadswords, blazing red eyes the size of Lunchalot’s shield, huge floppy ears dangling to the ground, and a tail like a pig’s — only with more twists and covered in sharp spines. Rain cascaded off its coat in waterfalls. The smell was indescribable.

Perched improbably on its back was ย a saddle.

Gingerbere seemed even more shocked than he by the sight of this terrible monstrosity. However, Sir Lucnhalot was undaunted. Nothing could daunt his confidence. Nothing could prevent a secret tryst with the lady, once he returned astride the giant hound, the will executed in full. Except…

Well, as it happened, Sir Lunchalot did not ride the monstrous dog to Lord Elpus’s castle, and for all he knows the will has still not been executed. Instead, he leaped on his horse and rode off angrily into the stormy darkness, mortally offended, leaving Gingerbere to suffer the pangs of unrequited lust.

It wasn’t Ethelfred’s’ dodgy arithmetic — it was what the Lady had said to her husband in a stage whisper.

What did she say?

๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

More later,

Nalin Pithwa


  1. Krishnamoorthy Iyer
    Posted July 27, 2015 at 8:27 am | Permalink | Reply

    I wouldn’t send a might out on a dog like this!

  2. Krishnamoorthy Iyer
    Posted July 27, 2015 at 8:28 am | Permalink | Reply

    I wouldn’t send a knight out on a dog like this! (Typo in the previous version of this comment)

    • Posted August 1, 2015 at 6:39 am | Permalink | Reply

      It’s just a play with words. Hint: the knight does not like puns.

  3. Pradeep Selva
    Posted October 13, 2015 at 11:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    .the lady said… I like lunch a lot? ๐Ÿ˜‚

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