The Cook's Tale

March 12, 2011
Food is something I have come to crave since my service with the Black Prince. Though much has changed since then. It was around the battle of Poitiers in 1356, that my occupation of a cook became a vocation. My service with the Black Prince all began when I answered the call for king and country. I was but a simple farmer who grew the best tasting beeves you could ever imagine; 10 shillings a beef I could get. Then while at the tavern drinking my sorrows away, like many days before, I heard of a drunken soldier, clad sloppily in his rusting armor. This man was gray-haired and evidently battle hardened, his eyes slanted and focused as if he was on a mission. In a sense he was. He was looking for new meat for the grinder. We had been at war for ten years with our hateful foe, and we figured it was time more of their hateful blood should be shed. I knew I would probably die from this reignited conquest, but that was not a bother to me. The Black Death had recently taken my wife and my boy, and I wanted death to take me too. Besides the recruiter bought our drinks, and that was all the incentive we needed. Once we were briefly trained, we were crated away to a foreign and alien land, France. We traveled with much more experienced soldiers who had been brandishing weapons for almighty England for many years. Many of them not much different than our friend the Knight. My drunken group from the tavern was just a bunch of old men, but England needed every soldier it could get. We thought we were the undesirables of the thousands of new recruits. However we quickly were given our duties. We would forage and scavenge city after city of the French countryside for any source of subsistence for the massive army. This duty was something we were more than happy to do, since the standard infantryman was only fed a pitiful slop of barley porridge. We would search barn after barn and would find a variety of crops, chickens, eggs, and many other delectables, all being hidden by the futile efforts of the French swine. One time we found a barn's cellar filled with a variety of cheeses; cheddar, Swiss, goat, and wine aged 34 years, truly meant for nobility. Us men of peasant birth truly had a meal fit for a king that night. What we didn't devour, we conjured up for the soldiers back at camp. Eventually though these soldiers got smart. They noticed our plump guts compared to their famished ones. While they were eating rats we were eating mutton. One day my group and I went off foraging to a small town called Bonnillet. We barged into the local tavern and got ourselves all good and drunk on expensive ale and wine. There is where we were greeted by our not so patient and ever so hungry soldier friends. They had just come back from battle and were bloodied from head to toe. They surrounded us quickly and said they'd chop our heads off. We then got in a drunken brawl with this ferocious group. During which, one of the starving lads bit a chunk out of my leg, which is now this crusty sore you see. Eventually, the other foragers and I were brought back to camp. There is where we found what our sentence was. We all figured it would probably be death, hopefully not by burning. What awaited was a sentence that would truly make us suffer. We were shoved into converted prison, which at one time ironically was a bakery. There we were forced to starve, and we wallowed in our own filth like animals. It was dark and dank, and being chained to an iron ball didn't help the experience. Our plump stomachs turned very scrawny and soon became similar to those whose food we stole from. Then when we thought we were all abandoned and left for dead. Until one day we met a familiar face. This face was of a French peasant from which we stole food from. Just days before we stole everything from this man, his wife, and four children. He busted into the prison brandishing an ax. We were all trembling, figuring the man came for his payback. He came to me first and slowly lifted the ax over his head, aiming it right between my eyes. I shut my eyes and tried to make peace with my maker, until suddenly I heard a large clank noise. Slowly, I opened my eyes, and noticed this man freed me from my chains. This man went thief to thief, freeing every one of them. Just days before we had taken everything from him. Now let me tell you, there isn’t a single day that goes by when I don’t wonder what happened top this man and his family, and why he did what he did. Well, some of you may think of me as a glutton and even a traitor, but I was what I was and I am what I am. Now without any further adieu I am ready to present to you a short story, but first I need a swig of ale.

My story begins in quiet old tavern. In the tavern there were two soldiers of fortune, John III and Henry V, who readily went to this local tavern closest to their garrison. Now these lads knew they would be stationed in their same garrison for many years to come, so they figured they might as well try to drink the time away. One stormy night the tavern was packed. Many townspeople could be found in the tavern getting
warm and getting good and drunk. With the tavern packed, John decided to start some entertainment, gambling. Eventually, gambling with cards got boring very quickly, and went extremely slow with very low wagers. John had enough and challenged Henry to a competition. A mysterious farmer dressed very darkly offered them a solution. Now this farmer supposedly had a massive chicken coop in the outskirts of the town. He came to the tavern to seek shelter from the ferocious storm. He said he was on his way to the market to sell his surplus of eggs, 100 to be exact. Now he offered that they do a eating competition. He said that they could use his 100 eggs, since they would probably spoil by the time the storm would let up. Soon the greedy John and Henry were at a table facing each other, with 50 eggs each. The winner would get a gold florin coin for every egg he finished. There was much roaring and the bets were high. Everyone knew these two locals, and knew they couldn’t pass up the almighty coin. The competition started very briskly. One egg quickly became 10, then 20, then 30, then even 40. These men were both eating at the same rapid pace. Then after his 42nd egg was devoured, Henry slouched over into his basket of eggs. He had laid his head in the basket for quite some time until someone had checked on him. He had eaten his last egg. He was dead! Yet John had been proclaimed the winner, he would not stop eating. He knew that for every egg he ate he would add another gold coin to his pile. Well, he made it to his 49th egg and his stomach was full and had literally exploded. He thought of his neatly stacked golden coins, and of how great one more would be added to his collection on the table. John stared at the darkly dressed farmer. The farmer responded with a grin, and at that moment John plopped over, dead and full. The crowd at the tavern was prodding at the freshly dead, and there was a load of commotion of what had just happened. The farmer then sauntered slowly to the table where the competition took place. He collected his dues and then went on his way; off into the storm. In that tavern, the souls of two men were now missing………along with 100 gold coins.

Once the story had ceased there was a deep silence. Many had expected a story that would be very short and pointless, since the Cook had gone on about his life story for quite awhile. Even the Knight, who now had a grudge against the traitorous Cook, enjoyed the story because it didn’t offend anyone, as far as he could tell. The moral, too much of anything is a bad thing, was something every one of the pilgrims could relate to. This story truly made them wonder what their vice was, from the Wife of Bath’s lust to the Monk’s gluttony. After the story was told, people started to realize, if they keep their vice it will end with their own demise.

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Gettysburg63 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 21, 2011 at 11:30 pm
I would greatly appreciate any feedback
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