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CHAPTER X


HOW BROTHER JUNIPER ONCE COOKED FOR THE BRETHREN ENOUGH TO LAST FOR A FORTNIGHT


It happened once, when Brother Juniper was in a house of the brethren, that, for some reasonable cause all the friars were obliged to go out, and Brother Juniper alone remained at home. Then the guardian said to him: “Brother Juniper, we are all going out, therefore, by the time we come back, I wish thee to prepare a little food for the refreshment of thy brethren.” “Most willingly,” replied Brother Juniper; “leave it to me.” When all the brethren, as has been said, were gone out, Brother Juniper said to himself: “What superfluous carefulness is this, that a brother should be lost in the kitchen, and deprived of all opportunity for prayer! Of a surety, as I am now left in this charge, I will cook enough to serve the brethren, were they as many more, for a fortnight to come.” So he went to the town and borrowed some large pots for cooking; then he got fresh meat and salt, chickens, eggs, and vegetables; he begged wood also, and made a great fire, upon which he set everything together to boil: the fowls in their feathers, the eggs in their shells, and the rest in like manner. Meanwhile one of the friars, to whom Brother Juniper’s simplicity was well known, returned to the house; and seeing these great cauldrons on such an enormous fire, he sat down in amazement to watch with what care and diligence Brother Juniper proceeded in his cookery. And having observed him for some time to his great recreation, this friar went out of the kitchen, and told the other brethren that Brother Juniper was certainly preparing a wedding banquet. The brethren took it for a jest; but presently Brother Juniper took his cauldrons off the fire, and bade them ring the bell for dinner. Then the brethren took their places at the table, and he came into the refectory, all rubicund with his toil and with the heat of the fire, and said to the brethren: “Eat a good dinner now, and then we will go to prayer: and let no one thing of cooking for a long time to come, for I have cooked more than enough to last us all for more than a fortnight.” And so saying, he set down his hotch-potch before them; but there was never a hog in the Campagna of Rome so hungry that he could have eaten it. Brother Juniper praised his way of cooking because it was so great a saving of time; and seeing that the other friars ate none of it, he said: “These fowls are good for the head; and this food will keep the body in health, so wholesome is it.”; so that the brethren were all in admiration at the devotion and simplicity of Brother Juniper. But the guardian, being angry at such folly, and grieved at the waste of so much good food, reproved Brother Juniper severely. Then Brother Juniper fell on his knees before the guardian, and humbly confessed his fault to him and all the brethren saying: “I am a very wicked man. Such a one committed such a sin, for which he was condemned to lose his eyes. Such another was hanged for his crimes. But I deserve far worse for my evil deeds. And now I have wasted so much of the gifts of God and the substance of the Order.” And thus lamenting he departed; nor would he come into the presence of any one of the brethren for the rest of that day. Then said the father guardian: “My dearest brethren, I would that every day this brother might spoil as much of our substance, if we had it, as he has done to-day, were it only for the edification he has given us by the simplicity and charity with which he has done this thing.”


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