Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Barbarians at the Table

Shillindoor the Barbarian adjusted his cummerbund, took a sip of his tea, and turned to Mr. Thistlewall.

"It is indeed a fine day outside," Shillindoor the Barbarian replied, daubing the corners of his mouth with his napkin after he'd set his teacup down on its delicate saucer.

Mr. Thistlewall beamed. He turned to his companion, Mr. Corneeps, in whose sunroom they were enjoying brunch.

"I told you that I could turn him from scruffy malingering barbarian to gentleman!"

Mr. Corneeps nodded and didn't meet Mr. Thistlewall's eye. He pretended to be busy flicking a piece of imaginary crumpet from the leg of his suit. "That you did, Mr. Thistlewall, that you did. Would you like your money now, or later?"

"Now, please," Mr. Thistlewall replied.

Shillindoor raised his eyebrows. "Pardon me, Mr. Thistlewall. I know that it is very uncouth to inquire in the financial affairs of others, but my curiosity has overcome me. There was a sum resting on my training?"

"Oh, indeed, Mr. Shillindoor. Gentleman frequently enjoy placing wagers on all manner of events. Today you have won me quite a tidy sum!" Mr. Thistlewall said, receiving a small pouch of gold coins from Mr. Corneeps.

"In consideration of the subject of the wager, I am curious whether I am to receive a cut of the wager?"

Mr. Thistlewall looked aghast. "That is certainly a rude question, Mr. Shillindoor. A very rude question. Do racing dogs get a percentage of the wager? The horses that run their track? No, they don't. They get the satisfaction of a job well done, just as you must be content with."

"Ah, I see," Shillindoor said, nodding. "It worked a bit differently, where I come from. If I did not receive a cut of the wager, you would receive a cut of a butter knife."

"Pardon me?" Mr. Thistlewall said.

Shillindoor did not forget his manners, as he gave back to Mr. Corneeps enough money from the wager to cover removing the blood stains from the rugs.

The Moral: you can take the barbarian out of the tavern, but he can take the blood out of your body.

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