I had, in fact, sent a message for him to come to dinner to talk over some 'Matters of Importance'. That was several days ago.
"Well, Sire, it was like this", he started. I pulled him a pint.
" I got your message to come straight away and set out as soon as I could. As you know it is a fair old way to come from up north and the weather has been a bit rough.
I had been on the road for three hours or more and it was getting on to night time and I was thinking of resting my steed, but a humungous storm was brewing. And it came down real nasty. It was tough going through all the mud and blown-over trees. The rain was lashing and the lightning flashing. The wind was howling and noise was deafening. Rivers were overflowing and the paths strewn such as to disappear.
My horse was knackered and so was I when disaster struck. It became lame. I had to walk, leading him along. I spied a farm house through the driving rain some half a league away. By the time I got to it it was past midnight and I was soaked to the skin. My chain mail was a rustin'. My surcoat was dripping and manky. My steed was hacking.
The Farmer and his Wife were kind and sat me by the fire. I supped and tried cleaning the rusty bits from my mail. My steed was stabled by a farm boy. I was fair spent and slept a while and all through the night the storm raged.
By the morn the storm was at its height. It was crashing and banging out there but I heeded your call and was determined to get on.
Unfortunately the boy came rushing in to tell that my steed had carked it during the night. There he was, cold and dead, and I was without means.
I asked the farmer if he had a horse I could use but he laughed. "Oi be a poor farmer, m'Lud. Oi ain't got no 'orse".
But he did go and fetch his hound. By the Lord Harry it was a big'un.
A Great Dane.
I packed my kit and put my armour on I took it all to the stable followed by the Farmer and his wife and their boy so I could saddle up that great hound. It was a struggle, I can tell you. He did not take to it at all, especially with all the noise and lightning and rain and wind an' all. It was well past dawn but pitch black out there.
I climbed aboard. My feet just cleared the ground. Just as the farmer opened up the stable door to the elements his wife stepped forward and raised her hand. " No" she commanded.... she said she
" Wouldn't send a Knight out on a Dog like this"
..... and that's why I'm late.