“One Man’s Trash…”“Sound the alarm,” someone screamed, “we’re under attack!” Sir Smith of Hough jumped up from where he was sleeping in the comfy chair by the fire, avoiding guard duty as usual. He was a short, plump man with brown unkempt hair, bright, beady eyes and chubby red cheeks. With his disheveled clothes and lopsided grin, he had an air of such ridiculousness that one couldn’t help but laugh.
“Wh-what,” he said, rubbing his eyes and yawning.
“We’re under attack,” screamed the voice again, this time right in his ear.
“Ouch!” Sir Smith said clapping a hand to his ear, “What was that for?”
“We’re under attack!” said the voice again.
The words “attack” and “we’re” floated around Sir Smith’s brain for a minute. Suddenly his eyes widened.
“They must be after the treasure! Well, I’ll never let them get it, never!” he muttered. A resounding bang made him start. The enemy had entered the castle, with surprisingly little effort. “Oh no!” he squeaked as he heard a familiar bellow, “It’s Sir Thoroughly-Unpleasant!”
“Not ‘Sir,’” someone behind him snapped. “Do you really think that the king would knight someone so, well, thoroughly unpleasant?”
“Oh, sorry, all these weird titles confuse me. Let me try again. Oh no! It’s Lord Thoroughly-Unpleasant!”
“That’s right!” shouted Sir, sorry, Lord Thoroughly-Unpleasant, his voice as sharp and cold as icicles. “It is I, Sir, sorry, Lord Thoroughly-Unpleasant and I’m here to take the treasure which you hold deep within this wretched castle. So hand it over NOW!” he added, a whine creeping into his voice.
“We’ll never let you have it!” replied brave Sir Smith, although those around him didn’t look quite so sure.
“Oho!” thundered Lord Thoroughly-Unpleasant. “I see we have some resistance.” He looked our hero over. “But somehow I think we shall manage,” he said, lips twitching. “Ah well! We shall humor him. Little knight, I challenge you to a swordfight! If I win, you shall hand over the treasure! If by some miracle you win, I’ll go away and never return. Deal?”
Sir Smith thought for a second. Lord Thoroughly-Unpleasant, though still not a knight, was known far and wide for his skill with the sword. He was also a good six inches taller than Sir Smith, with muscles where he only had fat. If he was lucky, he would just be humiliated. More likely, he would lose his life.
“Okay,” he said brightly. “I accept.”
Lord Thoroughly-Unpleasant was rather taken aback by his willingness to fight, but he hid it with one of his thoroughly-unpleasant sneers.
“Okay, ready when you are!” shouted Sir Smith, sword in hand.
Lord Thoroughly-Unpleasant lunged to the side, throwing our hero off-balance so that he fell flat on his rump.
“Hey, that wasn’t fair!” Sir Smith yelled, trying to gather as much dignity as possible. Alas, his trouble was in vain, as he promptly slipped and fell again as he scrabbled to get up.
“You said you were ready,” the Lord pointed out “Now get up and fight!”
This time Sir Smith managed to get up successfully, and, head held high, he turned to face his opponent. Suddenly the evil Lord came at him with a series of chopping blows, aiming to tire him out. Sir Smith blocked each one solidly, until the Lord broke away, new respect for his short, fat opponent shining in his eyes.
“Your defense is good, but one can not win a battle on defense alone,” he said.
He lunged again, this time cutting for our hero’s side. Sir Smith blocked it easily, and, bringing his sword up, he thrust for his opponent’s chest. When the Lord blocked this effortlessly, he swung his sword down, chopping for his enemy’s side. Now Sir Smith was the one attacking, forcing his opponent to block and block repeatedly, all the while looking for an opening. Suddenly he found one. His sword snaked up to touch the bare skin of Lord Thoroughly-Unpleasant’s neck. Unfortunately, his asthma chose this exact moment to act up. Coughing and wheezing, Sir Smith slumped to the floor. When he could finally breathe, he found himself pinned to the ground with his own sword.
“Traitor,” he yelled at the sword fiercely.
Lord Thoroughly-Unpleasant, meanwhile, was issuing orders to his men.
“You stay here and guard the people. I shall find the vault and the treasure myself.” He turned on his heel and vanished down the staircase before any of his men could utter a word in protest.
Sir Smith was struggling with the sword, trying to free himself. One of his fellow knights—a very small one—rolled his eyes and pulled the sword out of the ground easily, freeing Sir Smith.
“Oh, um, thanks,” said our hero, grinning sheepishly before following Lord Thoroughly-Unpleasant down the staircase.
When he found him, the Lord was rubbing his hands together in front of the closed door of the vault. Hearing footsteps he looked up. “Ah, little knight, come to see your riches stolen from under your nose?” he said.
“I won’t let you!”
“My dear fellow, it is already too late.” And with that he opened the doors wide, revealing a room full to the brim with…
“Chocolate!” he screamed, “This is your treasure, chocolate!”
“Not just any chocolate,” Sir Smith replied huffily, “this room contains some of the best chocolate in the entire universe.”
“B-but what about the gold and the jewels,” Sir Thoroughly-Unpleasant stuttered.
“Chocolate,” Sir Smith replied emphatically “is the best treasure of all.”
“You loon, you’re as nutty as a fruitcake, you…” Lord Thoroughly-Unpleasant slumped to the ground in a dead faint, the word “Mummy” on his lips. By now everybody in the castle had come down to the vault. Seeing their leader in a fetal position, sucking his thumb, the Lord’s men surrendered. Cheers rang out along the castle as the other knights hoisted Sir Smith on their shoulders, parading the unlikely hero around the castle. Thud! Oh no, they dropped him!
[TABLE OF CONTENTS, LHS CLASS OF 2009 EDITION]
Copyright © 2002-2007 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose ©
2002-2007 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.