Feasts

Feast Day of Saint Clement I, The eighth year of the reign of King Richard

It has been many a day since I have feasted in my own great hall or that of Westminster Palace. As I watch Jack do his best with a leg of pork–surely the richest meat we’ve had in many a day–I am reminded all too well of how much food was at my beck and call.

Perhaps it is the nature of Man that he never appreciates what he has until he has lost it: love, wealth…a name.

But as the season draws on, it puts me in mind of feasts of days past and of some of my favorite foods. Light, white loaves of bread, fried parsnips dipped in almond milk, lamb in crabapple sauce, cockles in spiced wine. How we feasted! And all around the festive diners, cheerful music played. Jugglers and dancers entertained. We were the princes of our own kingdoms. I was Baron of Sheen, lord of my manor and knight of the realm. I was, I hope, a benevolent ruler, though perhaps not too wise.

But that is the past. I must sweep these memories aside like hearth smoke. Today, I must rejoice that Jack deigns to stay with me, serving me better than any valet I ever had. Even now he proudly brings his roasted meat to the table and sets it beside a wedge of cheese and a coarse round of bread. There is white butter in a pot and stale wine in a jug, graciously supplied by Gilbert and Eleanor. Yes, we shall feast tonight.

Jack smiles as he slices the meat for his lord, little knowing that he is the prince, he is the free one.