(The Science of Eating)
s we lay down my poor convalescent Magge onto a soft bed in the Monastery Infirmary we hear a bell ring thrice. The young Acolyte Quattuor speaks, saying, ~ It is time to eat! ~
The senior Acolyte Tredecim amends on behalf of Quattuor, Duae, and Sedecim, saying, ~ It is time to dine. Your Highness, if you please to follow us. ~
I am lead across the courtyard toward the largest structure of the Monastery. Tredecim speaks, saying, ~ This Monastery was once the garrison of a Roman Legion. This structure was the residence of the Roman General. ~
We enter the dining hall. Four long tables are arranged in a great cross. On one side of the shaft of this great cross Our Guard stands facing the Ladies~In~Waiting who stand across the table on the other side. Farther up beyond them, at the arms of the great cross stand twelve of the thirteen Incorruptibles, six at each arm, facing me. At the apex of the great cross is an eating place reserved with a crown of woven roses, but no one stands there. I am to be seated at the nearby base of this great cross, as the Royal Foundation. Hovering in a halo about us all are the young Acolytes.
The Thirteenth Monk speaks ceremoniously, saying, ~ Your Highness and Beloved Guests, I am the Servant Brother Timothée. Our Servant Brother Benoît has been chosen to fast for this meal and to pray throughout in the name of Humanité. ~
I point before me to the far apex of the great cross of tables, saying ~ Is that Brother Benoît’s vacant setting across from me? ~
Servant Brother Timothée speaks in reply, saying, ~ Your Highness, that seat is always reserved for The Savior. And one of us thirteen fasts at every meal, so there is no need for our thirteenth setting, ever. Please, all, be seated. ~
I am amused that we all dine together. I know the minds of my Wedding Entourage and they too wonder why there are not mounds of food placed upon our tables, only chalices of water.
But the young Acolytes are busy conveying to each of us a plank of bread with a slice of fowl upon it that is bathed in a golden liquid and accompanied by herbs. There is a small ladle and a small trident placed beside each of us. My eyes are ebullient with this artful vision framed in bread. The aroma entices my nose like a perfume.
Alaire of Our Guard gazes into his chalice of water, saying, ~ When does this change to wine? ~
Lothaire of Our Guard attempts to pluck with his fingers the slice of fowl, saying, ~ Do we fast along with Brother Benoît? ~
Devereux of Our Guard looks to his comrades and mutters, saying, ~ Is this fowl or is this what the fowl shits? ~
The Ladies~in~Waiting suppress their giggling. All the Monks lower their eyes silently except Servant Brother Timothée whose expression to me says, ~ What can I expect from savage children? ~
Chagrined I rise and glare at Etienne the Captain of Our Guard, saying, ~ Do your men prefer a trough, Captain? ~
A Monk rises at the heated words, saying, ~ Your Highness, I am Servant Brother Affranchi. I am responsible for the nourishment here. There are several varied servings to follow in sequence for this repast. It is surely unlike the dining to which you are accustomed.
I hear but ignore as Lothaire of Our Guard whispers, saying, ~ Does he mean the dining where actual sustenance is presented? ~
Servant Brother Affranchi continues, saying, ~ I was rude not to preface this meal with my Science De Gueule, the science of eating. ~
Servant Brother Timothée smiles with the other Monks, saying, ~ Your Highness, Servant Brother Affranchi insists that this is a matter of philosophy. ~
I reply quickly, gesturing and saying, ~ Thus far, against this vision and against this aroma I cannot dispute. Please continue, Servant Brother Affranchi. ~
And so, in deep and serious countenance, Servant Brother Affranchi decants for us rules governing sauces and spices and philosophizes on the aesthetics of nourishment. I find myself enchanted with these subtleties.
Etienne the Captain of Our Guard notices my trance and speaks, saying, ~ Your Highness, Servant Brother Affranchi speaks with grandiloquence as if he describes the government of a kingdom. ~
I reply to Etienne, saying, ~ And he has given to me, a Daughter of the Undisputed King of France, food for thought. ~
<for previous chapters, search “whisper” on my blog>
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