The servant, Pieter, briefly paused
Outside the bedroom door
As he considered knocking. Was it wise?
The master seemed ill-humored as of late;
Though that was understandable,
Given the events of recent weeks,
Such drastic changes to the day's routines
Would only draw more undesired attention.
He shunned his closest friends
And stayed in bed too long, as though in hiding.
The man feared for his master's health…
And just as much for his position.
Still, the man must eat! So, after confirmation
That the tray he bore still held a breakfast
Suitable for gentlemen,
He straightened up and, with a heavy sigh,
Hammered on the heavy oaken door. He called:
"Master Bonham, may I serve your breakfast, sir?"
A groggy voice replied with irritation. "GO AWAY!"
Pieter closed his eyes and sighed,
Then called out once again: "Master Bonham!
Breakfast tea cannot just 'go away.'
A gentleman must take it at a proper hour –
An hour passing rapidly with morning's light,
If I might be so bold.
I fear revolt among the aristocracy, my lord,
Should they discover I have, yet again,
Been forced to serve his breakfast tea
To Master's thoroughbred."
A moment's pause, then great guffaws of laughter
Met his ears. "Oh, very well, Pieter.
We wouldn't want my horse to join
The other lords for tea; he'd be so very bored.
You may enter."
Relieved to hear the humor
That his master used to show,
Pieter eased his way into the bedroom.
He placed the tray upon a serving rack
And drew the curtains back. The morning light
Proved his relief to be ill-founded.
The master, fully clothed, laid stretched face-down
Across the bed.
His face and hands were dirty,
His hair a twisted nest of twigs and leaves
And, if that weren't enough,
His half-closed eyes betrayed his lack of sleep.
Aghast at his appearance, Pieter asked,
"Have you been walking in your sleep again, sir?"
Dietrich Bonham raised his head
And flashed a weary smile.
"Ah, Discretion," he joked, "thy name is Pieter."
"The beast again, sir?" Pieter asked.
He tried to keep his fear disguised.
"Was anybody harmed?"
"No innocents," his master said.
"Indeed, the beast again ignored the easiest of prey
And sought instead the predators."
His eyes grew focused for a moment. "Evil, Pieter.
Their evil drew the creature
As a candle draws the moth.
He relished it, exulted in it.
Even now, I feel his satisfaction."
He slumped back to the mattress, then he mumbled,
"And too, my age. He is without appreciation
For the consequences of our actions."
Pieter sighed, again relieved. Beast or no,
This curse had yet to claim a blameless soul
And drive his master to despair.
"I'll draw a bath for soaking, sir,
To help your body heal. As for your soul…
Perhaps another's help should be considered."
"Indeed, an inquisition would remove
This burden from me. Or then, the local hunt club
Might enjoy some larger game –"
"The longer that this creature hunts, the likelier it is
Your jokes come true," Pieter said.
"I thought perhaps Elias might –"
"Elias Fenn?" his master asked.
"The man believes in fairy tales
And theories of conspiracy against
All holy orders. By the king!"
"Who better for discussing such a problem?"
Pieter wondered loudly as he filled
The gilded tub. "If he should talk about these things
With others, would he be believed?
A werewolf hunting only evildoers?
Perhaps he's in the king's employ
And merely killing time until the Pope arrives…"
He turned to see his master sitting, listening,
His head cocked to the side, more like a puppy
Than a wolf. The thought was not consoling, though.
"It's just a thought. Enjoy your bath," he said
And hurried from the room.