One Tiny Leaf

Short stories and poems

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall / Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
And all the King’s horses / And all the King’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again

Once upon a time in a land far away there lived a great King with three beautiful daughters. The eldest daughter was lovely to behold. She had dark hair and eyes and excelled in spinning the finest silk. The King had given her hand to a wealthy prince who promised the alliance of their kingdoms for her hand. The middle sister was fair and radiant with long, blonde hair. She danced more beautifully than anyone in the kingdom. The King had given her hand to the wealthiest lord in the land who promised to throw great balls in the King’s honor if the princess should marry him. The youngest daughter, Drusilla, was the most beautiful of them all. She had hair that blazed red like fire and eyes as blue as the sea. Her skill was in her wit and cleverness. She loved to test her suitors with riddles and games, and she had outsmarted every one of them.
One day her father came to her and very sternly said, “Drusilla, I am tired of your games. You are unhappy with every suitor who comes to win your hand. I cannot have you growing old and childless in my castle. You must choose a suitor, or I will choose one for you.”
“Oh, father,” she cried. “I cannot marry any of these men! They are all so stupid and boring. What kind of wife would I be to a man who cannot match my wit?”
The King paused to consider this. Because he loved his daughter very much and because he was a kind King, he decided to compromise with his daughter.
“Very well,” he said. “We shall have a contest to see who the best husband for you is. A horrible dragon has been terrorizing the southern third of the country. None of my bravest soldiers have been able to beat him. We shall decree that the man who kills this dragon and brings his head before my throne shall win your hand. Only a very cunning man could kill a dragon. You will be satisfied with the outcome of this contest, or I will marry you to whomever I please.”
“Yes, father,” she replied sullenly.
So the decree was announced throughout the land, and all the bravest men arranged hunting parties. Princess Drusilla’s beauty was famed everywhere, and many men would be proud to have such a lovely princess for a wife.
Far away, in the eastern realm of the kingdom, word of this contest reached Lord Humphrey M. Dumpty. Now Lord Dumpty’s grandfather had done some great deed in his day and had amassed a great trove of jewels, gold, weapons, and armor. He had also been given a castle and land, which he passed on to Humphrey’s father. Humphrey’s father was a very forgetful man, who liked to do nothing all day but drink his ale, smoke his pipe, and tell long-winded stories with no point at all. He never told Humphrey what his famous grandfather had done to become so wealthy, nor had he bothered to explain what any of the treasures in the castle were. As far as Humphrey knew, they were just lucky. Humphrey had always dreamed of doing brave things, fighting dragons and marrying princesses, but he had inherited his father’s love of ale and pipes and doing nothing. So Humphrey had never ventured into other parts of the kingdom.
When word reached him of the contest, he became so excited that he smashed his flagon of ale and declared that he would be the one to win the princess. His servants snickered right in front of him, and mocked his dramatic declaration. Nevertheless, Humphrey had made up his mind. Having no battleworn soldiers or hunters to take with him, Humphrey selected his herdsman, Ned, to go face the dragon with him as his squire. Ned had chased wolves away from his sheep, and Humphrey figured that Ned was the bravest person he knew. They went into the Dumpty castle’s armory together, and Humphrey selected the sturdiest looking breastplates, helms, and all the protective gear he could find. Then he looked at the swords, and he found a huge curiously carved sword hanging in a place of honor higher than all the rest. Humphrey immediately took that sword. What Humphrey didn’t know was that this sword was magical, and his grandfather had used it to strike fear into the hearts of not only dragons but ogres and trolls back in his day. This sword was the main reason the Dumpty family had become wealthy.
The next day, Humphrey and Ned set out with all the provisions they needed, and they traveled southward toward the realm where the dragon was rumored to be. As they went, they met many weary, wounded, and frightened noblemen escaping from their own battles with the dragon. They tried to warn Humphrey and Ned against going, but Ned would not hear of it.
“My master is braver than you know,” he would boast. “He will not return empty handed or run away like a coward.”
Having spent so much time with the sheep, Ned did not know Humphrey very well, and he naturally assumed that a wealthy lord was also brave and cunning. Ned’s boasting gave Humphrey the courage to continue, and they finally reached the dragon. It was a great red and black beast whose size dwarfed any man who approached it.
Humphrey had no clue what to do, so he put on all his protective armor, drew his sword, and walked slowly toward the dragon. The dragon saw him, exhaled a fiery breath, and glared at him. But as soon as he saw Humphrey’s sword he jumped back.
“Please do not kill me, Lord Dumpty, I promise to give you whatever you want. Only do not take my life.”
“You know who I am?” Humphrey asked incredulously.
“I would know that sword anywhere. Your grandfather killed my cousins with it and swore he would send his mighty sons after me if I ever caused trouble. I see from your armor that you are indeed a mighty warrior. Please show me mercy and I will do whatever you ask.”
“It’s no good, dragon! I need a dragon’s head to win the princess I desire. So I must kill you.”
“Wait, stay your blade. I can get you a dragon’s head if that’s all you desire. My brother died only days ago. I will give you his head in return for my life.”
“And you must leave this region and never return here again.”
“Whatever you command I shall do.”
So the Humphrey climbed the dragon’s back, and they flew to the dragon cemetery where Humphrey used his blade to sever the head of the dragon’s dead brother. Then he traveled to the King’s court and presented the dragon’s head, telling a long tale of a great battle in which he defeated the dragon through wit and swordplay. The King was so delighted with Humphrey that he immediately promised Drusilla’s hand in marriage. He gave a great feast in Humphrey’s honor, and the princess was married to him the next week.
Some time after returning to Lord Dumpty’s castle, Drusilla began to suspect that her husband was not as brave or cunning as he claimed to be. He was very easy to trick, and he never solved any of her riddles. She also noticed that he did nothing to check the slothfulness or disrespect of his servants. Humphrey had returned to his old ways of drinking ale, smoking his pipe, and telling long stories that had no point. He was starting to expand into a rotund, egg-shaped man from his laziness and hearty appetite. Drusilla grew bored with her husband and frustrated with the servants, and she took to calling her husband Humpty Dumpty, which became popular with the servants as well.
One day, on exploring the castle, she came upon the armory with all its treasures and mysteries. As she was gazing over the weaponry, a new thought dawned on her. If she wasn’t married to such a useless husband, she could go on adventures and win fame with the great sword that hung high above the others. She guessed that this great sword was magical, and she had suspected all along that the magical sword did all of the work for Humphrey. Why shouldn’t she have a chance to try it too? She groaned at the thought that she never would. She didn’t have the heart to kill her oafish husband, but from then on all of her tricks somehow put him in harm’s way. Perhaps fate would see fit to give her freedom, she thought.
One night, during a great storm the King’s standard was ripped from the highest wall of the castle by a strong wind. The King and a great company of his soldiers were to arrive at the castle to visit Princess Drusilla the next day. The morning after the storm the winds were still high, and Princess Drusilla was in a mischievous mood.
“My father is coming today, and there is no standard flying over our castle to greet him. What kind of loyal subject does not unfurl a banner or fly the King’s colors to herald his arrival?” she demanded severely.
“I shall have one of my trusty servants take care of it,” he responded, but Drusilla would hear none of it.
“We both know that only the lord of the land is fit touch the King’s flag. How dare you put a duty of such importance in a servant’s hands? My father will be very displeased when he finds out about this.”
So Humphrey grumbled, rolled his eyes, and emerged from his favorite chair, pipe still in hand. He took the King’s flag up the stairs of the highest tower, and opened the door to the wall. The wind was thrashing against the castle wildly, and from that height, Humphrey could see the King and his men approaching in the distance. Humphrey carefully stepped out onto the wall to mount the flag in its rightful place, and after securing it, he turned to go back inside the tower. But a great burst of wind threw Humphrey from the wall, and he fell into the courtyard, shattering all his bones. When the King and his men arrived, they gave what help they could. But it was too late; Lord Humphrey Dumpty was beyond repair, and he died shortly after his fall. Princess Drusilla was widowed and free to find her fame.


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About One Tiny Leaf

I see my writing as one tiny leaf on a great big tree of budding authors. While I hope to one day publish professionally and find a community of writers and readers, for the present this blog allows me the space to put my work to the test. I welcome any constructive comments and feedback.