never pick a fight with a guy wearing purple pants

Many years ago, in a quiet village, there lived a young squire, assigned to a heroic knight. Despite the squire’s slow learning and lack of any discernible skill, the knight was duty-bound to the young man, and felt protective of his squire since everywhere the knight went, he heard the laughter of the other villagers, at the boy’s ineptitude. It was a well-known fact that the only reason the boy had been assigned to the knight was because the boy’s father was a very successful merchant. Indeed, one of the few things that could bring both nobleman and commoner together was a boisterous retelling of a tale from the ever-growing legend of the lad’s incompetence.

The knight spent weeks trying to invent a test that his squire could pass so that the villagers would stop ridiculing him, until one day, as if by God’s providence, he heard a faint whimpering sound of distress coming from a cave. The knight climbed down from his steed, lit a torch and entered the cave to find a giant ogre inside tending to a badly injured foot. The ogre said to the knight, “Dear sir, please draw your sword and end my agony forthwith, lest I a suffer another sleepless night with this wound which will not heal.”

The knight had slain many ogres, but could not dishonor himself by felling one who was hurt. Instead, he reasoned with the monster. “Friend, I will go into my village and return with a balm for your wounded foot if you will do for me one favour.” Once the ogre agreed, the knight knew he had an errand for his squire that even the boy could not foul up. The ogre would pretend to terrorize the village, and the knight would send his squire to chase the ogre away, ensuring his apprentice’s status as a hero.

Finally the day arrived and the ogre ran rampant through the village, making a loud din and frightening the villagers, but careful not to actually hurt anyone. The knight sent his squire to confront the ogre, sure that the boy would finally develop the courage to complete the task, and even let the boy wear his own armor for the occasion. The boy rode his mount into the village, but once he arrived, he climbed off the horse too close to where a blacksmith was stoking a fire to ply his trade, and the squire’s cape (which he had stubbornly insisted on wearing, despite it being strictly decorative and to be worn only on formal occasions) caught fire. The lad ran screaming through the village, and as he ran, the flames grew wilder and wilder, spreading to the village’s huts, and before long, the entire village was ablaze and most of the villagers perished. The knight rescued the boy and took him far away before the few surviving villagers could regroup and come seeking their revenge. Giving the young man all the alms that he had, the knight told him, “You have besmirched me and your home, and I fear for your very life. Please run as far away as you can, and disguise your appearance so that no one can recognize you and avenge the irreparable harm you did today.”

The young boy took the knight’s advice, and disguised himself and ran. And that’s why even to this very day, John Stossel has a moustache.


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February 2010
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