History of language

106: Write a piece of fiction describing the incident that gave rise to the phrase, “third time’s the charm”.

I’ve never used this term before, but I’ll take it to mean the same as ‘third time lucky’. 

The origins of “third time’s the charm”, comes from the old folklore tale of the swashbuckling pirate, Cap’n Diego Mowhawk, and his trusty parrot, Pepe. It is said that over many winters, Cap’n Diego attempted to overthrow arch enemy, Cannon-Balls Sid, and reclaim his mountain of stolen treasure. However, after seven long years of trying, he had still not been able to get his hands on Sid’s gold. So he tried a different approach – Cap’n Diego kidnapped Sid’s parrot, Lester, and replaced him with Pepe, his eyes and ears, in a bid to take over whilst perched on his unsuspecting shoulder! Pepe failed twice at removing Sid from the equation; once by dripping poison into his tea (yes… pirate’s drink tea), which an unfortunate crew member mistakenly drank, and the second time, Pepe attempted to drop a sword from a great height, only for Pepe to realise he was actually not that strong. Cap’n Diego was sure that Pepe could succeed and convinced him to give it one more go, reiterating that third time’s the charm. And indeed it was! Pepe used Sid’s love for Lester against him, leading him into the most dangerous establishment known to man, a place that no other pirate has ever returned from… this place was the Mermaid’s Cavern! *GASP* To cut a long story short, it is due to Cap’n Diego’s success, that this somewhat superstitious phrase was born!

What really happened (apparently):

I couldn’t complete this prompt without looking into the true origin of this saying! Apparently, it dates back to English common law, in which if someone were found to be guilty and were sentenced to be hung, and if the accused was not killed after three attempts, he would be released and forever classed as third time lucky!


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