Of Witches, Fiends, and Maids

Part 1: In Which We Meet a Witch

In those days when ancient Rome

Ruled the ancient West

There stood a lonely ancient home

Which a witch possessed

Julia was this lady's name

A fair and lovely belle

Rivaled by no other dame

As far as she could tell

But beauty sweet did only hide

A soul as black as coal

And where mortals' hearts should reside

Julia had a hole

She lived alone with a tiny cur

And shunned the other sex

And if a man should anger her

She'd curse him with a hex

Only one bore more skill

A wizard of such fame

He lived upon Aventine Hill

And Titus was his name

Now Titus bore a vicious grudge

Against all womankind

For with one to alter he did trudge

And then she changed her mind

One day, by chance, he took a stroll

And passed fair Julia's home

He called the maid an ugly troll

And she named him a gnome

And then they both tried to place

A hex upon the other

But looking unto Julia's face

Titus saw his mother

The only dame in all the land

To never break his heart

And Julia scarce could understand

When he ceased his witchy art

"Your might does match no other!"

Impresséd Julia said

"You look just like my mother!"

And soon the two were wed.

And at night they lay together

With Julia's cur betwixt

And with love's eternal summer weather

Their broken hearts were fixed

But winter came with frosty chill

And merciless cold did spread

When Julia had fallen ill

And within the month was dead

Titus cried both day and night

And with some magic black

He did arrange a mystic rite

To bring his Julia back

From a crammed and dusty shelf

He pulled an ancient scroll

And silently prepared himself

To fight Hades for her soul

And calling on the Underworld

He began the incantation

And from his lips the spell was hurled

But he erred in pronunciation

Part 2: In Which We Meet Four Fiends

Instead of Julia alive and well

Some fiends stood in the door

Summoned from the depths of hell

A horrid group of four

"Alas! The spell! I said it wrong!"

Lovesick Titus cried

"Well, now do come along!"

And he bid the fiends inside.

"I must send all of you back

To there from whence you came!"

But the curious demon pack

Insisted on his name

"Alas, Titus," was all he said

"Now do go back to hell!"

"My poor darling wife lies here dead."

"I must perfect my spell."

"A lovely name," one demon said

The others said the same

And sitting idly on the bed

They began to say their names.

The first fiend was Nightmare

Who looked quite like a sheep

And if a dreamer caught his stare

This demon murdered sleep

The second fiend was Liar

Who appeared a handsome youth

And from his mouth came fire

Which they say could murder truth

The third was naméd Slaughter

Who glowed with fiendish flame

His greatest fear was water

And he feared it with no shame

The final fiend was Miser

And of all who dwelled in hell

No single being was wiser

Or saved their cash so well

"Be gone! Be gone!"

Titus sighed, trying not to yell.

"Oh please, you horrid fiendish spawn."

"Do go back to hell."

"Don't send us back," Liar plead

"Hell is filled with drear."

"Then stay on Earth," Titus said
"You just cannot stay here."

"For I'm a very busy man"

"And there is work to do"

"Go bother others if you can!"

"Please, you demons! Shoo!"

Part 3: In Which We Meet a Maid

And sullenly the fiends did rise

And scurried out and then

They hid their forms with human guise

So they would look like men

And Titus closed the door up tight

So in they could not get

The demons moaned with all their might

And, bored, began to fret

For they only had the dark

To frolic and to play

Back to hell they would embark

To flee the light of day

"What shall we do?" Nightmare asked.

And sullenly he stood.

"I have a plan," Miser rasped.

"Let us corrupt the good."

"For there is nothing better than"

"To turn the good to sin"

"If we must return to hell again"

"Let's bring some new folks in."

And all of them did agree

When finally Liar said

"A virgin I shall find for me"

"And tempt her to my bed"

"Don't be greedy" Slaughter frowned

And met his comrade's stare

"Once a lovely maid is found."

"I think that we should share!"

"So that we all will play role"

"In tempting her to sin"

"And together we can share her soul"

"So that all of us do win."

Yes, this was a better plan

For Liar was so fair

And more than any mortal man

Could cause young maids to err

If only he would seek a belle

The others stood no chance

And he would have her soul in hell

For his beauty could entrance

So off the troop of demons went

To find a lovely maid

With the single cruel intent

To tempt her to the shade

And down the lane they saw a home

In which Octavia stood

The fairest maid in all of Rome

Pure, and right, and good

Or so the merry demons judged

Because she was so fair

Her purest heart could not be smudged

Nor would she dare to err

But, alas, they loved the challenge still

And marched up to her door

She leaned above in her windowsill

And beheld the fiendish four

Clutched within her tiny arm

There was a lovely urn

She balanced it with girlish charm

And how the fiends did yearn!

"What do you seek?"

The lady asked, looking at the four

"A kiss upon your tender cheek"

Slaughter did implore

"As mild as a lamb you are

With skin as twice as white

And how you bear that water jar!

I must be with you tonight!"

"A lamb is mild. That is true,"

Octavia softly said

"But they're oft the meekest too"

"So you fill me with dread"

"Yes, yes, I do admit"

"Your face does scare me so!"

"I've had quite enough of it"

"Now, you fool, do go!"

But stubborn Slaughter would not turn

Despite what had been said

So fair Octavia took her urn

And dumped it o'er his head

"Ah! It's Water! Help! It's water!"

The soakéd demon cried

And then away ran poor Slaughter

And with his flames put out, he died

"Don't heed that man," Nightmare said.

"For he's a bumbling ass."

"Listen to my words instead."

"Oh, my lovely lass."

"You are not a dirty lamb."

"But a flying, singing bird"

"Across the sea, men will have swam"

"To hear you speak a word."

"A charming voice demure and sweet"

"You surely do possess."

"There's no one else I've chanced to meet."

"More lovely, I confess."

"That's what I am? A bird, you say?"

Octavia did recite.

"And so I must fly away."

"I bid you all goodnight."

And she turned and disappeared

From the window, gone

When at the door a dog appeared

With a midnight yawn

"Get 'em, boy. Go on, bite!"

Urged Octavia's voice.

And Nightmare was so filled with fright

That he ran off by choice.

And the mutt did give chase

All down the shadowy street

Nightmare ran off without a trace

The canine at his feet

Now, only two stood there

Of the fiendish band

And twirling 'round his lovely hair

Liar tried his hand

"Woman are such vain things."

The cocky demon smiled

"They grace themselves with jewels and rings."

"And make sure their hair is styled."

"So we must cater to her form."

"In which she must take pride."

"O, lovely maid, I am forlorn!"

"Do come back outside!"

And Octavia came back again

To her windowsill

And she frowned down at the men

With her dear urn still

"You're not a beast, not lamb nor fowl."

Liar did declare.

"For a lady does not tweet or growl."

"Especially one so fair."

"Your skin is as white as snow."

"And your hair as black as night."

"And your smile, it does glow."

"With a godly might."

"Snow, am I? Is that true?"

Octavia said it twice.

"Then my blood must run blue."

"For my heart is ice."

And then the maid did feign a stumble

And dropped her urn like lead

And onto Liar it did tumble

And shattered on his head

And it left a ghastly welt

And away vain Liar raced

Such shame he had never felt!
She'd ruined his perfect face!

Now, only one remained

Miser, wise and bold

And from a pouch violet stained

He withdrew a coin of gold.

"Here, madame, I'll pay you well."

The final demon said.

"Perhaps for gold, a night you'll sell."

"And permit me to your bed."

"Ay, ay, do come in,"

Octavia smiled sweet.

Cash a ladies' heart can win

And a demon's plan complete

And she hurried down the stair

And led Miser through her doors

And all around were women bare!

It was a house of whores!

And exposéd ladies ran about

All throughout the place

And Miser gave an angry shout!

No maid was good or chaste!

No lady pure could he see

That he could tempt to sin

An entire night of chivalry

And he didn't even win

And before he gave another yell

The sun outside did rise

And sent the demon back to hell

Before Octavia's eyes.

"A fiend he was! A spirit old!"

She cried out with such fear.

But he'd left his pouch of gold.

And so she gave a cheer.

Part 4: In Which We Wrap Up Loose Ends

And so all of it ended well

Octavia got her cash

The fiends were all back in hell

With all the flames and ash

Slaughter got his fire back

And Liar's bump did heal

Nightmare'd stopped the dog's attack

And more wealth Miser could steal

And Titus did complete the rite

To bring Julia to life

And that very fateful night

He had his lovely wife

And so, my friends, listen well

Here our tale does close

And be sure that when you cast a spell

You're certain of how it goes.