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The Riddle Of The Cellarer


Then Abbot David looked grave, and said that this incident brought to his mind the painful fact that John the Cellarer had been caught robbing the cask of best Malvoisie that was reserved for special occasions. He ordered him to be brought in.

"Now, varlet," said the Abbot, as the ruddy-faced Cellarer came before him, "thou knowest that thou wast taken this morning in the act of stealing good wine that was forbidden thee. What hast thou to say for thyself?"

"Prithee, my Lord Abbot, forgive me!" he cried, falling on his knees. "Of a truth, the Evil One did come and tempt me, and the cask was so handy, and the wine was so good withal, and—and I had drunk of it ofttimes without being found out, and—"

"Rascal! that but maketh thy fault the worse! How much wine hast thou taken?"

"Alack-a-day! There were a hundred pints in the cask at the start, and I have taken me a pint every day this month of June—it being to-day the thirtieth thereof—and if my Lord Abbot can tell me to a nicety how much good wine I have taken in all, let him punish me as he will."

"Why, knave, that is thirty pints."

"Nay, nay; for each time I drew a pint out of the cask, I put in a pint of water in its stead!"

It is a curious fact that this is the only riddle in the old record that is not accompanied by its solution. Is it possible that it proved too hard a nut for the monks? There is merely the note, "John suffered no punishment for his sad fault."

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