The villagers huddled together for the warmth and the news. The news was being delivered by a man from a neighboring village who had just arrived. The news was not good.
The enemy was quickly approaching and was currently destroying the man’s nearby village. He said they would surely be in this village by the next day. The enemy was well-armed and they were killing everyone.
The village elders held a quick meeting and it was decided that the only chance for survival was for everyone in the village to leave their homes and hike northward into the forested hills where they would scatter and hide.
The exodus began immediately. The villagers gathered food and tools and other necessities and headed north into the hills.
But there was one plump, gray-haired old woman who refused to go. Her name was Esmeralda and she was considered the best cook in the village. Her family pleaded with her to come with them but Esmeralda vehemently refused, saying, “I am an old woman and I’ve lived a wonderful life. I choose to stay here and meet my fate.”
When all the villagers had left except for her, Esmeralda went to work. She dragged her kitchen table out of her home into the village square and then she dragged out several other tables from the homes of her neighbors. She also brought out as many chairs as she could find. She collected firewood and built two fires right there in the middle of the square.
Esmeralda then went into her kitchen and her neighbor’s kitchens and gathered all the food she could find, bringing it out to the village square. She also grabbed plates and bowls and utensils. She then proceeded to cook a gargantuan feast. While the food was cooking she arranged and set the tables.
The enemy finally arrived on horseback. They fanned out and went through the village looking for the people to kill. The commander, however, rode straight into the town square. Dismounting, he walked up to Esmeralda, “What are you doing old lady?”
“Well… uh… I figured you guys have been fighting and riding all day so you’re probably hungry. I thought I’d cook you up a meal.”
Just then one of the commander’s lieutenants approached, “Sir, it appears that the village is deserted… well, except for her.” He pointed at Esmeralda then added, “My, that food sure smells good.”
The commander brandished his sword and held it up to Esmeralda’s neck, “Where are the villager’s?”
“Uh… I don’t know.”
“Tell me where the villagers are or I’ll behead you right now!”
“Okay. Okay. They headed south to cross the salt flats to get to the border.”
The commander withdrew his sword and turned to his lieutenant, “When the men have searched the entire village and have determined there is no one else here, tell them to meet up here in the square. We’ll rest a bit and eat…” He turned to Esmeralda, saying, “That does smell awfully good,” then he turned back to the lieutenant, “We will then head south.”
Soon thereafter Esmeralda fed the entire army in the town square. Several soldiers told her that it was the best food they had in months. She never stopped serving the men for a minute and could barely stand from the fatigue. It was by far the biggest meal she had ever cooked and served all by herself in her life.
In their haste and in gratitude for the food the soldiers neglected to kill Esmeralda.
There was very little food left after the soldiers were gone but Esmeralda grabbed a plate and gathered scraps onto it. She then plopped down into a chair in utter exhaustion and ate her dinner — a huge smile on her face.
While waiting for her fellow villagers to return home, Esmeralda spent the next day washing dishes.
Copyright by White Feather. All Rights Reserved. This is a work of fiction.
Speaking of cooking…