~~~ AN EXCERPT ~~~
Jaython was a large man. Not by height, but by girth and weight. Standing a little less than a foot shorter than Demeas and weighing in at almost three hundred pounds. He had difficulty carrying the weight evident when he walked up steps. Generally a happy man, judging from his size, Jaython enjoyed sampling what he cooked.
Standing at the top of the steps leading down into the kitchen, the aroma of breakfast rose up to greet Demeas like a friend. Taking a deep breath through his nostrils he smiled. Having served at three other Temple compounds, Jaython was the best cook he’d served with. He wondered to himself why he had criticized Jaython’s cooking, for looking at the man Demeas could see he took pride in being a cook.
Descending the steps he spoke, “You wanted to see me, Jaython?”
Jaython’s smile turned to a scowl, “I asked the Elder if you could solve a little mystery for me.”
“The Elder didn’t give me any details, so perhaps you can share them with me.”
“Follow me,” said Jaython walking away. “Here is the mystery,” said Jaython pointing at a door.
“More precisely,” Jaython opened the door, “what is not in the larder.”
Demeas looked inside, “Looks well stocked to me.”
“That is because you do not know what is supposed to be in here. I do.”
“So there’s food missing,” shrugged Demeas. “Anyone could have come down and taken a nibble here or there. Even I have come down late at night for something to eat.”
“So then what you said was true. You do not like my cooking,” said Jaython standing in defiance with both hands of his hips.
Demeas felt an undertone of guilt for his unfair criticism of Jaython’s cooking, but every time he made a negative comment, Jaython created something fresh and wonderful. So why Stop?
“Jaython, to be honest you are a great cook.”
“Really?” He seemed taken aback for a moment, “You mean that?”
“Yes I do,” said Demeas with a smile and promptly changed the subject. “Perhaps it was mice or rats.”
“You think mice in the walls? That would be one big rat to be able to carry away one of my hams.”
“Let me look around.”
The larder was a large room, almost square with extra thick walls and door to keep it cool. He checked the shelves which covered the walls from waist level up packed with bags of dried goods. Then he looked in the floor bins full of straw and peat where potatoes and other root vegetables were kept. Meats and fowl hung from hooks attached to the ceiling making it impossible for rodents to reach. The larder was surprisingly clean. No rodent had found its way into the larder Demeas was certain as not a single dropping could be found.
“Is that,” pointing up the steps, “the only way into the kitchen?”
Demeas looked at the entrance door noting that there was no lock. “I’ll have the blacksmith set locks into both doors today and have him give you the key. This way you can lock everything up tonight.”
“So it is not mice, then?”
“Not unless they can reach the latches.”
Later in the afternoon the blacksmith installed the locks, and before leaving for the night Jaython locked than checked the doors. Pulling on them, neither one had budged.
He smiled, “No snack for you tonight, Demeas.”
This ends the excerpt.