the rain continued to beat against the kitchen window, a little harder.
bikes' pipe went out and he re-lit it.
sal finished chopping her potatoes, and yawning, went to a small rocking chair in the corner, away from the fire.
"hard work, eh?" dennis asked her. this was some kind of private joke, and he laughed at it, but sal and bikes did not.
"you're sure, now, you don't want to hear me new poem?'" dennis asked.
"positively not," sal answered without looking at him or raising her voice.
"what was that?"
"she said she didn't want to hear your poem," bikes told him.
"well how about a tale, then," dennis persisted. "a rousing tale of old times."
"who wants to be roused?" sale asked him. "not i. i want a little nap before i have to light the stove."
"then dennis's tale might be just the thing," bikes told her. go ahead, dennis," bikes turned to him, "if my pipe doesn't put me to sleep, your story surely will. i only ask one thing."
"and what might that be?"
"if your tale puts me to sleep, and my pipe is still lit, put it out for me, so the house doesn't catch on fire."
"i can do that." dennis settled himself a little more comfortably beside the window.
bikes and dennis both looked up as the wind shook the window a little harder.
then dennis began:
"once upon a time, long ago but maybe not that far away, there lived a wicked king. and he was the wickedest king that ever was, so he must have been an englishman."