Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Abundance (06/08/06)
TITLE: In the Scullery
By Kenn Allan
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Awash in ale and mirth,
Invited to commemorate
Three decades since his birth.
Instead, he gazed upon the moors,
A goblet tipped in hand,
And contemplated secret thoughts
Too deep to understand.
What happened to those merry times
Since first becoming king?
When did the sound of clinking gold
Refuse his heart to sing?
Where went those vast exotic feasts
Which teased both taste and smell?
Or clever winks from ladies faire,
Beguiling with their spell?
His goblet clattered to the floor—
A symbol of his shame...
Abound in gold and precious jewels,
Yet empty all the same.
He sank defeated to his knees
And bowed his throbbing head,
With groans escaping from his lips
Of prayers remained unsaid.
From somewhere close to heaven’s heart,
In answer to his plea,
A song sprang forth where shadows danced
Within the scullery.
It drifted up the kitchen stairs
With clear and measured tones,
Where torches flickered in delight
Against the blackened stones.
Despite the pandemonium
Which spun beyond control,
The king caught snatches of a song
Which soothed his troubled soul.
“What singing, this?” he mused aloud
Amid the drunken din,
And listened o'er the feeble strains
Of flute and mandolin.
Determined to unearth the source,
The king stalked forth alone;
Through murky halls and corridors
And down some steps of stone.
The song grew sweeter with each step;
The king increased his stride,
Until he found the proper door—
He stopped and peeked inside.
The scullery was dark and damp,
The stench was quite acute;
A young girl overflowed with song
While sorting vats of fruit.
She sang of profound happiness—
The very thing he sought;
He must learn what this peasant knew
Which he, the king, did not.
"You there!" boomed the tipsy king,
"Have you a hidden flask?
Methinks you are too overjoyed
For such a mundane task."
"Oh no, m'lord" She curtsied low,
"I have no need of wine,
This happiness within my soul
Flows from a different Vine.
"I cannot see my Master's face
With vision dim and blurred,
Or sing my praises to His name
With lyrics thick and slurred."
"How intrishting," replied the king,
"Forgive my interruption..."
But quickly lost all future thoughts
Behind some loud disruption.
Outside the doorway, in the hall,
A flock of maids appeared,
Their aprons filled with filthy plates
From tables they had cleared.
They scorned and mocked the lowly girl
The whole time they were there,
Heaping insults at her feet
Along with tableware.
Asked the king, "Why do you stay
Upon your own accord?
This is a drab and thankless job
With no perceived reward.
"Perhaps you'll scheme one day to steal
A golden cup or plate
And pawn it for a tidy sum
To flee this hopeless fate."
A glint of horror bleached her face,
"Oh no, m'lord!" she cried,
“I have no need to rob or steal—
My Master will provide.
“Although the days are long and cruel,
To leave would be remiss,
If this is where my Master wills,
No grander place exists.”
No sooner had she spoken thus,
There came a plaintive cry;
A hungry cat limped through the door
And caught the maiden's eye.
Without delay or second thought
She scraped the scattered dishes,
And soon produced a kitty meal
Of mutton chunks and fishes.
The king scowled at the feline fare,
"Why waste food on that beast?
You should have gleaned it for yourself
And had a gourmet feast."
"Not me, m'lord" the girl replied,
"I heed my Master's voice,
And help those weaker than myself—
I have no other choice.
"For me to eat while someone starves
Just seems a bit absurd,
So I'll just read aloud tonight
And feast upon His Word."
The king reached out and took her hand,
"You are what I require—
I've never seen such overflow
Of gifts which I desire.
"I beg you, teach me how to live
A more abundant life,
And help me be a better king
By sitting as my wife."
“I'm truly flattered," she replied,
“But I'm not whom you seek;
It is my Master who supplies
All things of which you speak.
"If you will give your heart to Him
And for your sins atone,
My Master will reside within
The man upon the throne."
She threw the king a gentle kiss
And like a dream was gone...
...Then to his chambers he retired
To learn the Master's song.
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