The Wedding Cake

 As the tramp entered the town, a warden approached him and arrested him. 
“We have no vagrants in this town! Begone or I shall chain you in a cell over night!’

“But, sir, I am no vagrant! My appearance misleads you! I know the priest of these parts and know him well I do. Not too much to be over familiar, but enough to be a friend and not an acquaintance. He can vouch for me…”

“Well, he is not here to vouch for you! He has gone to another house of prayer tonight.”

“What misfortune I have! First you think I am a vagrant, then the one man who can verify my, my wealth, is not here? What grave misfortune! Well, you shall have to lock me up over night in the cell, save risking your character, that people will also think I’m a vagrant, a tramp, a hobo….. Please think of me and moreover, of your own good standing….”

The warden considered what had been said, then with sound judgement, led the man to the cell. Locking him in, he left the man unchained, with a pitcher of beer and a large chunk of bread with some cheese. 

“Ah, sir! You are most kind. I won’t hear a bad word said about you!”

“Bad word? What bad word?”

“Well, they…”

“Who?”

“Them, those who say, ‘He never caught those who ate the wedding cake?”

“Cake? What wedding cake?’

“Ah, I see….”

“See what? What wedding cake?”

“You don’t know about the wedding cake?”

Appearing dumbfounded, the warden stopped short.

“Er, oh! That wedding cake!”

“Which wedding cake?”

“That one, y’know…. I’m currently investigating at the moment y’know…”

“Ah! Right! Well who did it?”

“Er, well it’s still under investigation, y’see…”

“Well, maybe I can help, for I am a witness to what occurred.”

“You saw who ate it?”

“I saw many eat it!”

“Many? Many? How many?”

“I shall tell you. If you agree to tell no one it was I who told you, I will tell you. But if you do tell that I told you, then I shall deny ever talking to you, as if I never, ever telled  anyone! So I’ll only tell, if you never tell that I told you, you agree?”

The confused warden was flummoxed but anxiously said, “Come on then, tell me!”

“Well,” began the vagrant, “there was this wedding, just the other day. Not yesterday, nor yesterday’s yesterday, nor yesterday’s yesterday yesterday, if you catch my drift, but it wasn’t yesteryear neither. However, it was more than a few yesterdays, but not nearly a month of yesterdays…”

“Yes, yes…”

“Well the bride had ordered the most biggest-est cake to show off her marriage to all the guests. However, the cake was so big, that a box could not house it! It wasn’t huge, but wasn’t little, but bigger than a box but not as small as a thistle, it was just so high, if you catch my meaning?”

“Yes…”

“So the cake deliverer delivered it into an adjoining room, not the adjoining room but the room next to it, but not next to the loo, the room that is next to the other one, yer know the one?”

“Er, yes, yes, get on with it….’

“And this room, the one that is not the adjoining room but the room next to it, but not next to the loo, the room that is next to the other one, that of which you know I’m talking of…”

“Yes, yes…..”

“Well this room, it had door, that wasn’t ajar, but neither closed as in locked, for this door had a lock but no key, a key somewhere but not there, neither here, nor not over there, this key is currently without it’s lock, but closed enough to contain the cake. 

  “Now, everyone, who was anyone, knew of the grandeur of the cake, for they’d heard the cake baker brag about the size of the cake they had baked and make no mistake, they’d prouded them selves on the large cake they’d ever baked making sundry and all aware of the magnificence of the cake. And maybe it was this that caused the misfortune that was cast upon the enormous baked cake they had maked. However, I digress, for what happened was this: a guest, the first to arrive, snook about the place with curious interest, and lo, behold, it founded the cake! They ventured into the room, the one that is not the adjoining room but the room next to it, but not next to the loo, the room that is next to the other one, that of which you know I’m talking of, and opened the 

door, that wasn’t ajar, but neither closed as in locked, for this door had a lock but no key, if you remember, a key that’s somewhere but not there, neither here, nor not over there, the key that’s currently without it’s lock, but closed enough to contain the cake; well, they went into the room and said, ‘My, my! What an enormous cake! It looks so beautiful and tasty. I wonder how long it would take to bake this cake? I wonder if, if I just had a nibble, so taste, just a little, not a lot, not too small, neither big, just enough to have a morsel and taste this magnificent cake….’ And so they did, and then they slid out from the room and met the bride and groom.

  “And guests by now were arrived, coming to visit from far and wide, and they started snooping about, as people do; not all, but some, you know, just a few. and lo, behold, another founded the cake! They ventured into the room, the one that is not the adjoining room but the room next to it, but not next to the loo, the room that is next to the other one, that of which you know I’m talking of, and opened the door, that wasn’t ajar, but neither closed as in locked, for this door had a lock but no key, if you remember, a key that’s somewhere but not there, neither here, nor not over there, the key that’s currently without it’s lock, but closed enough to contain the cake; well, they went into the room and said, ‘My, my! What an gigantic cake! It looks so beautiful and tasty. I wonder how long it would take to bake this cake? I wonder if, if I just had a nibble, so taste, just a little, not a lot, not too small, neither big, just enough to have a morsel and taste this magnificent cake….’ And thus, they did, then out of the room they slid to go congratulate the bride and groom.

  “And then what happened? Another guest started mooching about, as people do; not all, but some, you know, just a few. and lo, behold, another founded the cake! They ventured into the room, the one that is not the adjoining room but the room next to it, but not next to the loo, the room that is next to the other one, that of which you know I’m talking of, and opened the door, that wasn’t ajar, but neither closed as in locked, for this door had a lock but no key, if you remember, a key that’s somewhere but not there, neither here, nor not over there, the key that’s currently without it’s lock, but closed enough to contain the cake; well, they went into the room and said, ‘My, my! What an hugemongous cake! It looks so beautiful and tasty. I wonder how long it would take to bake this cake? I wonder if, if I just had a nibble, so taste, just a little, not a lot, not too small, neither big, just enough to have a morsel and taste this magnificent cake….’ And thus, they did, then out of the room they slid to go congratulate the bride and groom.

  ‘And as the wedding breakfast continued, many more slipped through the door, and what’s more, all who entered, though not all together, but individually, at one time or another, all said, ‘My, my! What a simply huge cake! It looks so beautiful and tasty. I wonder how long it would take to bake this cake? I wonder if, if I just had a nibble, so taste, just a little, not a lot, not too small, neither big, just enough to have a morsel and taste this magnificent cake….’ And thus, they did, then out of the room they slid to go congratulate the bride and groom. And all the guests did this.

  “Then the time came, to unveil the cake and it was brought from the room, the one that is not the adjoining room but the room next to it, but not next to the loo, the room that is next to the other one, that of which you know I’m talking of, and placed in the centre of the banquet room, for all to see, with a sheet on top, for the sake of formality. Then the toastmaster gathered sundry and all together, for the grand unveiling of the most grandest-est cake a Baker ever baked. 

 “The room was silenced by the tinkling of spoon against a glass, for the moment had now come at last, to reveal the cake in all its glory, and can you guess what happens next in my story?

  “The toastmaster lifted the sheet aloft, and all the guests gasped, paused in a deathly silence, which after a moment was broken by a solitary cough. ‘What’s happened here? Where is my cake?’ asked the bride. To which everyone, in unison replied, ‘It was not I!’

  “The groom then raised an eyebrow and said, ‘That’s not the question; you’ve answered another instead! But now we know who ate the cake; you’ve all confessed!’ And the bride was mighty sore and harsh words were said, until the minister in charge, encouraged forgiveness instead. To this note, bride and groom gave forgiveness and that, sir, is who committed the crime, as God is my witness.”

  After hearing the prisoner, the warden wondered what to do. Surely there had been a crime, but whom should he arrest?

“Shall I arrest everyone, or just one, then? Maybe the first guest…”

“Or maybe arrest none! For forgiveness was granted upon them by the bride and priest. Should you arrest someone who has been graciously pardoned? Wouldn’t that be a crime in itself?”

The warden thought about it, long and hard.

“One supposes that I should do nowt! And that I assuredly will do, since they have been forgiven.”

Now that it was settled in his mind, he went to the chair behind his desk, sat himself down and placed his feet on the table. Tilting his hat forward, so to cover his eyes, he made ready for sleep. The vagrant also settled himself down for the night, glad of a roof over his crafty head, as well as some drink, bread and cheese. 

  The dawn ushered birds to sing and move, doing the things that birds do, which in turn awoke the warden who then made some morning tea. By clinking and cluttering the tin and copper instruments, he awoke the vagrant within the cell. 

“Good morning kind sir! Could I be so bold as to ask for a cup of your tea, please? Not a big one, nor little, just the right size to whet my whistle?”

“Aye, you may,” said the warden, who did so with haste.

“Ah, you are so very kind.”

  Now, this morning saw the possibility of the vagrant being released with no place to go, thus a plan was needed to be devised, so he could not be seen to be whom he was, a vagrant, for he’d assured the warden that he wasn’t, hadn’t he. So the cogs and wheels of his mind turned. 

“Tell me, good sir, where is the monastery near here, for I need to visit them on behalf of the priest. He gave me a message for them.”

“What message? I’ll take it for you…”

“Oh, er, you’re too kind, but the message I have has been entrusted to me to deliver specifically, to the one who is specified and if another delivered the specific specificity, a worry would loom in that person’s mind. Therefore, if you could guide me to their sanctuary, I’d be most grateful…”

“Show me the message,” asked the warden.

“Ah, now it’s only in my mind. It was in case anyone else minded what was on the priest’s mind, so it was specifically specified to go to this person’s mind and no other mind, save the minding of the message fall into the wrong person’s mind. If you catch my drift.”

The warden thought long and hard, for he was due to release the suspected vagrant this morning anyway.

“Who is it that you need to speak to?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“It was a question with choice, not a yes or no to be uttered! So tell me, who is it that you must speak with?”

“Once again, that’s correct.”

“No, no. Who is needed to receive the message?”

“Once more, that’s right.”

“Are you trying to deliberately antagonize?”

“No, but Hu is the recipient of the message in my mind.”

“Who?”

“Yes, that’s true, it is Hu.”

“Who IS IT?”

“YES, IT’S HU! For Hu is his name, I’m not making of you a fool. His name is Hu.”

“I see… Well, I know not of whom you speak. I can’t recall a Hu…”

The vagrant flitted about his eyes, looking to come up with a quick reply.

“Why surely you know Hu! He’s the one with the bald head, and a long, but not too long, but not too short whitish beard, that’s more grey in it than white; a tall gentle man, whose head touches the sky. He has a scar on his left hand, (or maybe his right) and he talks with a limp, walks with a stutter.”

“I cannot recall ever meeting him…”

“You must know him! You know, the one with the bald head, and a long, but not too long, but not too short whitish beard, that’s more grey in it than white; a tall gentle man, whose head touches the sky. He has a scar on his left hand, (or maybe his right) and he talks with a limp, walks with a stutter. Carries a leather satchel, for his tin bowl, begs for food at the mill pond, a place of which he is particularly fond.”

“The mill pond, you say? I may recall some brother there…”

“Of course you do! You know Hu! Nice bloke, a very kindly man with a cheery disposition, you know who I mean, don’t you? Everyone knows him! Anyone who knows who’s who knows Hu, save only a tiny few, of whom you might be one, from what I can discern. Fancy not knowing Hu! Sundry and all know good old Hu, he’s well known to the most, not so to maybe a few, of whom you might be one, from what I can discern.”

Sick of hearing the vagrant going on about the man, the warden wanted rid of him, not being able to listen to him whittle on and on. 

“Alright, alright! I’ll release you! Go and see this Hu and give him the message you promised to deliver.”

“Oh, thank you, thank you. You’re very kind. I must, must deliver the message that’s in my mind specifically for him.”

“Away with you! I cannot stand anymore of your chatter!”

And with that, the vagrant was released, with directions on how to get to the monastery.

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