Story for the Day: Vanilla
One does not get ice cream and only have vanilla:
“Very well, captain,” Bartleby interposed, his mouth littered with smatterings of cream and daubs of chocolate. “You have yours, now let the knight have his. Go on, sir knight,” ushering him over with a wave of his cone. “Speak for what you want.”
Uncertain as to what he should ask for, Damson peered into the cart, and after much deliberation said, “I believe I will have vanilla, if you please, sir.”
Bartleby’s face floddered. “I think you mean chocolate, sir knight.”
|Damson's Distress cover WIP by Twisk|
There was a pause. Damson’s brow furrowed, and Bartleby licked his ice cream.
“Do forgive me, sir,” the knight began, “but I believe I did say vanilla.”
“You did but you were mistaken. You meant chocolate.”
“…Did I, sir? But I do wish to begin modestly for my first trial, and chocolate is so very rich--”
“Preposterous, sir knight,” the old man scoffed. If a man wishes to eat ice cream properly, he does it right or he does nothing.”
“And vanilla is wrong, sir?”
“Vanilla is always wrong when there is anything else other than vanilla to have.”
“Forgive me, sir. I did not know a flavour could be incorrect.”
“Vanilla is an insipid monstrosity—literally, in fact—it is nothing without being dressed and is made to be titivated.”
“Rather like old passulated men who must ornament themselves with fine robes and tasseled hats to be considered appealing,” said Danaco, scraping his geleti off his shovel and grinning to himself.
“There is nothing wrong with a tasseled hat, captain,” Bartleby contended, “nothing at all. There is everything right with it—as is everything right with choosing chocolate. Go on, sir knight, a chocolate for you.”
“Excuse me, sir, but I cannot be so harsh on vanilla as you can. I do like vanilla, sir. It is a flavour that goes well with many things.”
“And chocolate is one of them, sir knight. And more importantly-- if I do say so, and I do say it-- chocolate dwarfs the dullness of the vanilla entirely and therefore makes it more palatable. Hang your vanilla. Nobody on a first trial should have vanilla. Nobody—and therefore nobody is having vanilla. Least of all you. Choose something else-- so long as it be chocolate.”
“I believe I shall have the chocolate, sir.”
“Excellent choice, sir knight.”
The vendor, who was smiling throughout the whole of this speech, shook his head and began to dig for the chocolate with his scooper.
“Chocolate, when speaking of ice cream, sir knight,” said Danaco, “is rather a cult to some—Bartleby namely. Science besides, it is the only religion which Bartleby shall follow.”
“I do not believe in vanilla,” said Bartleby, humphing and shrugging his shoulder. “And neither will you, sir knight, once you are properly introduced. There is your scoop—give him another. He will want more. That’s it. Thank you—there is your ice cream, sir knight. Now, what will you have by way of a dressing?”
“I do not want any dressing, sir.”
A sudden silence besieged the party: the birds hopping about the boughs screed and scattered, the tree crickets stilled their stridulations, the thrum from the markets in the distance dimmed. Somewhere across the expanse of evening, a kite cried and broke across the skies. A leaf tumbled down and rippled against the surface of the pool, the purl of which rang out with uncommon force. Rannig ceased his strident mastications, gawped at the knight, and stepped back, while Danaco’s straight brows curved to their height, his express struck by the extremity of his surprise, his arm remaining in mid-ascent, his wooden utensil tucked tightly between his fingers. Vathyn gasped and looked blank, shifting behind the giant and hiding her own undressed ice cream in a thrill of consternation, and Bartleby, horrified by the knight’s declaration, simmered in indignation impending and indulged in violent stares.