January 3, 2014 by alunparry
The King and The Food Taster
Once upon a time, there was a King.
But despite being a King, he was not a happy King. Instead, he was a very suspicious King.
“Hello King!!” someone shouted out to him one morning.
“Mehhh” growled the King. “What are they saying hello for?”
“Looking good Your Majesty” shouted another with a smile.
“Pah!” said the King to himself. “Looking good? What is she creeping up to me for?”
“Nice to see you, Your Highness” smiled another.
“Hmmm” grumbled the King. “So you want something from me do you?”
People were always being nice to the King. But, every time, he twisted their niceness into something nasty. So instead of feeling good, he felt terrible most of the time.
One day, his Head Chef came into the King’s huge reception room very happy like a little boy.
“Your Majesty!” he said. “I can’t wait to tell you. I’ve spent the last sixty days developing a brand new dish just for you. Here, will you taste it?”
The King got up slowly.
He walked up to the Chef and looked him in the eye.
Then he walked to the food. He strode around it. He sniffed it. He knelt next to it and scrutinised it.
Then he smiled. But not a happy smile.
“Ahhhh now I see” he said. “So you’re eager for me to eat this are you?”
“Yes Your Majesty” said the Chef excitedly.
“I know your game” said the King. “It must be poisoned!! You’re trying to kill me!!!”
“Oh no” said the Chef. “I wouldn’t do that Sir.”
But before he had time to finish his sentence, the King was calling for his Official Food Taster.
“But Your Majesty”, said his chief advisor, “you don’t have an official food taster.”
“I don’t have one???!!!” said the King startled. “Then find me one. Now!!! This is a matter of life and death.”
So his advisor went off to do just that.
Two days later, the King was in his palace surrounded by food.
In front of him were three candidates, all keen to become the King’s very own food taster.
The first stepped forward.
“I am Madame Dubois” she said proudly. “I am the finest food taster in all the world. I have worked with six different Royal families, and none of them were ever poisoned.”
She inspected the food in front of her and declared:
“This food is safe! You may eat it without worry.”
“Hmmmm” thought the King. “I don’t trust her. She has worked with other Royal families eh? Clearly, they have sent her to make sure that I am poisoned and they can claim my Crown.”
Next was an erudite looking man with spectacles perched on the edge of his nose, and a serious, concentrated look on his face.
“Your Majesty” he said. “I have qualifications in food tasting from the finest University in the land. I have lectured on poison finding techniques across the globe. I too declare this food safe!”
“Hmmmmm” thought the King. “The academics have never been fond of me. I bet he’d love me to eat this poisoned food, just like that Madame Dubois!”
Finally, there was a grim-faced man with beady, suspicious eyes, just like the King’s.
“My name is Francois the Food Taster. I come with no commendations Your Majesty. I come only with a vigilance to protect you from danger!”
With that he inspected the food.
He inspected the potatoes. He inspected the sausages. He inspected the vegetables.
Then suddenly he yelled out to the King:
“Do not eat this food Your Majesty. It is…..POISONED!!”
The King gasped. “I knew it” he said. “Thank you. You shall be my food taster.”
So the King’s advisor had Francois fitted with a special uniform and a big food taster’s hat.
Before any food was served for the King, it would go to Francois first.
Every day the Chef would send food from the Kitchen, and Francois would inspect it carefully.
And every day he would turn red with rage and yell: “This food is POISONED. Now take it away.”
The days soon became weeks.
Each Friday, the King would visit Francois and pin a fresh medal on his chest.
“Thank you Francois. You’re the only one here I can trust. Here is another medal for saving me from those wicked poisoners.”
Yet each week, the King grew thinner and thinner.
Then one day, the King didn’t come at all.
Francois began to worry. Maybe the King no longer appreciated his vigilance.
But then, just before midnight, the King’s advisor came to see him. He looked very sad.
“Francois” he said. “I bring awful news. Our King has died this day. I wanted to tell you personally as I know that the two of you were friends.”
Francois was overcome with grief.
“Please reassure me that he did not die of poisoning”, he begged.
“No Francois” said the King’s advisor comfortingly. “He did not. He died of starvation.”
Francois nodded and wiped the tears from his eyes.
“Thank you Sir” he said. “That’s a relief. I can at least console myself that it had nothing to do with me.”
Story by Alun Parry. January 2014