The Houndmaster And The King

There was a King who loved the thrills
of hunting beasts with his black powder gun,
and though he boasted sole pride in his kills,
he employed many hounds, also, for his fun.
The King had a Houndmaster who served him true,
staying with the hunting dogs all day and night;
he treated the dogs like his own children, too,
teaching them to sit, run, stay, and never bite.
Yet, the King had his Houndmaster beaten
for each dog that failed in the hunt,
and if no game was gained, nought was eaten
by man or dog—by leader, breeder or runt.
In time the King tired of his old Houndmaster
and gave him one last chance to prove his worth
or else the Houndmaster would not last ere
the next day’s dawn bled upon the earth.
It was evening when the King decreed
that a Hart would be his to stay his wrath
or else the King would thereafter feed
the Houndmaster to his canine riffraff.
The Houndmaster looked at the collared ring
that bound his beloved dogs in hand,
and he remarked, “Power is a fleeting thing,”
before loosing the dogs to scour the land.
The hounds did well, chasing a flighty Hart
toward the King as he took careful aim,
and the biting bullet found the most vital part
to stop the soul and down the game.
But as the King dismounted to peer
at the crowned beast felled by his pride
the hounds circled round and round, drawing near
to take their share from within the hide.
“Get back, you beasts!” the King thus raged,
striking them with his gun’s wooden stock,
“or I shall have you whipped, starved, and caged!”
But out here the pack did not fear such talk.
The hungry hounds growled and paced
round the King whom they did not fear,
eyeing him as they did the Hart they raced
and licking their teeth with a strange leer.
The King realized his deadly isolation
and shouted for help from his old Houndmaster,
but he was trapped, despite his royal station;
however fast was he, the hounds were faster.
He attempted to remount his panicking horse
and flee the bloodthirst he had unwittingly whetted,
but the hounds beset him without remorse:
each meal denied was now a meal regretted.

Before dusk the hounds returned to the castle
to be leashed once again and brought inside,
so the Houndmaster took them, without hassle,
to the kennel, their stomachs satisfied.

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