'Once upon a time, there was a mighty baron in the North Countrie who was a great magician that knew everything that would come to pass. So one day, when his little boy was four years old, he looked into the Book of Fate to see what would happen to him. And to his dismay, he found that his son would wed a lowly maid that had just been born in a house under the shadow of York Minster...'
Can there be anyone in the whole world who doesn't want to know what happens next?
This, as is obvious from the quotation above, is an English folk tale (though there have been similar tales told in mnay parts of the world). It was collected by the Australian Joseph Jacobs around the end of the 1800s.
The mighty baron is of course defeated in the end. The great thing about this story is that he gets defeated near the beginning, too. And in the middle.
As if this wasn't enough, the story also features some fine and crafty robbers.
And a ring and a fish, naturally.
Word To Use Today: baron. This word arrived in English from France in the 1100s. There was an Old High German word baro, which meant freeman, and an Old Norse word berjask, which means to fight, which might have had something to do with the word.