Chapter 21

Dinner Fit for a King

Samard leaned forward to smell the small portion beef, drowning in a mushroom sauce, on his plate. His nose crinkled with the scent of salt, cayenne and burnt flesh. “This meat is cooked and seasoned,” he said, as if such a thing were absurd.

The kitchen maid stopped in mid-step as she served the others. “Y-yes, my lord,” she spoke hesitantly. “Is it not to your liking?”

“I don’t want it seasoned or cooked.”

Surprised, the maid asked, “My lord? How do you want your meat prepared?”

“Raw.”

“Raw, sir?” She looked as if he’d just requested her leg for dinner.

“You heard correctly. Now take this away.” He shoved the plate. It skidded across the table and stopped with a clang as it hit the pottery bowl of bread.

“My lord,” Lucretia said. “Are you sure of your request?”

Instead of, “my darling” or “my love,” his mother called him, “my lord.” Was he were no longer her son, but only her king? When he was her son, she’d ask him what was wrong and he’d tell her. His mother was now one of his subjects. He could not confide in a subject.

“Yes,” he said. “I am sure. And I want a large chunk. I wanted a piece of meat at least three times the size presently on my plate.” He held his hands up to show the size of meat he required.

Both his mother and Abiya seemed to be upset with him. His mother glared at him. Abiya shifted in her seat.

He’d bathed and changed clothes for Abiya, but she would not so much as look at him. Instead, she stared at her untouched meat with head down and shoulders slumped. Of the platters of fruits and vegetables on the table, she’s taken none. Did she expect the maid to serve her every bit of food?

Abiya wore a soft pink, silk dress. Her long, beautiful dark hair looked freshly brushed. Her skin was perfect, never marred by the sun, and not a blemished. He wanted to run his fingers along her arm, her cheek, her neck. But his hands were rough. She might not feel the tenderness in them that he wished to show her.

To date, he’d not heard her voice. He wanted her to speak, to tell him about her home near the ocean. What were her likes and dislikes? Perhaps he should tell her of his likes. He didn’t know how to start the conversation. She frustrated him.

Samard shifted his gaze to the maid still standing rooted to the floor with her mouth agape.

“I am king! I will eat my meat as I please. I do not want this,” he yelled at her. He had spoken. It was her duty to obey, not stand in the middle of the room, and gawk at him as if something were wrong. “I will have my meat raw. Do not make me say it again.”

She jumped to take his plate and ran from the room, crying.

Abiya’s head snapped up as she turned to glare at him. Her skin was pale. Her cheeks were sunken. She looked as if she’d not slept or eaten in days. She was thinner than he remembered. He’d never thought her beautiful, but she was pretty. He wished she’d smile. He wanted to see her happy. Her eyes narrowed. Her mouth moved. Samard thought she might speak. Her lips twisted disapprovingly. She stood, whipped around, and left the room. He was sorry to see her go.

“Why does she leave?” Samard asked, softly.

“Samard, animals eat raw meat. Not kings,” Lucretia said. “Your queen does not wish to see you eat like an animal. This is the first time since your wedding that she has agreed to sup with us and you insult her. What is the matter with you?”

Abiya refused to eat with him, refused to speak to him, refused to sleep in his bed, now she was offended at how he ate? Nothing he did satisfied her.

Lucretia continued, “I didn’t raise you to bark at servants. You were taught to be more respectful. What is wrong with you? Samard, why are you acting like this?”

She called him by his name. So now he was her son again? Did she wish to mother him?

“I am king. I will eat as I please. You may leave if you do not wish to watch me.” He was her king and he’d dismissed her.

Affronted, Lucretia rose to her feet and with the arrogance of a queen mother, exited the dinning area.

The maid returned and placed a platter in front of Samard with a large piece of raw roast on it.

To the five servants standing around the room, he said, “Take all that away.” He waved his hand over the table laden with bread, berries, pares, potatoes, squash, sweet apple pie and such. “There is a drought and food is scarce. Give it to those begging outside the kitchen door. Stay out. I wish to eat alone.”

When the food was cleared and the servants gone, Samard brought the raw meat to his nose. Yes, this still smelled of life, not like the other that stunk of wood, fire and leather.

He tore into the meat with his teeth. Blood dripped down his chin and smeared his hands. He wiped his chin on his shirtsleeve then wiped his hands on his pants. He’d never tasted fresh flesh before; he liked it. He ate ravenously. This meal was more satisfying than any he’d eaten before. Never again would he eat his meat cooked. What did lamb, goat, and pig taste like in their natural state?

Once finished, after a loud belch, he returned to his chambers. Without washing the blood from his hands or face, or changing his blood stained clothes, he lay down to sleep.

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Published in: on August 4, 2011 at 11:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

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