Sir George, he went a’questing, as gallant lads will do, to prove his mettle and his fine fettle — a knight both brave and true. He came upon a kingdom wherein misfortune reigned. The dragon blight, a dire plight, a land become blood-stained. The dragon charged the people — a dreadful contract laid — to stave off strife he took the life of fairest lad or maid. The king, he was confounded. Tax fell to him this year. None else were left, and soon bereft he’d be of daughter dear. He offered wealth and title to slay the foul wyvern. Said George, “A test is this behest! I’ll rid you of this worm.” Sir George rode up the mountain in search of dragon’s lair; and there he found, all trussed and bound, the gentle maiden fair. But here the story wanders, for death was not to be. As Sir George neared the worm appeared and cut the princess free. A pact ‘tween worm and princess was honorably forged. “He’s given oath and solemn troth,” the maiden said to George. “No more will dragon plunder. No more will lives be lost. And he’ll away this very day. His freedom is his cost.” George was then disheartened. His quest was unfulfilled. The knight demurred but gave his word: The worm would not be killed. So knight and worm and princess to king came in procession. The king was mazed. But then George blazed “I have but this concession.” And with a mighty lance stroke, he pierced the dragon’s head. “You can not trust the traitorous. No fear if dragon’s dead.” The princess gaped in horror, her word made so untrue. Distraught, she cried, “You beast! You lied! To think we trusted you!” But George, he claimed his guerdon. The king had no complaint. Though George betrayed wyvern and maid, yet still t’was made a saint.
The Feast of Saint George is celebrated on 23 April (though in the Church of England it is moved until Monday when the 23rd falls between Palm Sunday and the Sunday after Easter, as in this year). I’ve always been a bit disconcerted by this story. Knights and saints play by different rules, I suppose.
©Elizabeth Anker 2022