A Sumptuous Feast

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

You are what you eat -- apparently.

Maybelle Potter lived alone in a drafty Victorian house set on a low hill above the bustle of the city. It was a forbidding residence, surrounded by willows with drooping branches and head-high hedges.

Nevertheless, located as it was on the only road to the next village of significance, the vagabond turned through the opened gate and trudged up the pebbled path to the front door.

His knock was answered by a rather tall, thin woman clothed in crisp black, with a deep maroon shawl over her shoulders. “Yes?”

He snatched his knit cap from his head. “Sorry to bother, ma’am, but I’d be willing to work hard for a small meal.”

She said nothing for a moment, taking in his ragged clothing and large frame. “I believe I may have something for you. Please come in.”

She opened the door wider to admit him. “May I know your name, sir?”

“Harry—Harold, that is, ma’am.”

“Good day to you, Harold. My name is Maybelle. If you will follow me, I’ll show you what needs to be done.”

Her generosity spread by word-of-mouth, causing a series of men down on their luck to stop by and ask for work. She accommodated them all, sometimes inventing tasks when needs be.

* * *

In early spring, Maybelle allowed a slightly built young man into the crawlspace beneath the house to remove a bothersome den of raccoons who had taken up residence. He was rewarded with a good meal and sent along his way.

Over the course of the next year, Maybelle employed several men in various capacities such as roof mending, shrubbery trimming, painting and woodchopping.

Her philanthropic activities became so well known, city officials took note of her efforts, compiling them into the substance of a citation for her civic-mindedness.

On a fine mid-summer day, the mayor instructed his secretary to phone Maybelle’s residence to set a date for the presentation of the ornately produced citation.

Maybelle responded shyly but favorably, agreeing on a date one week hence. She insisted she be allowed to provide a sumptuous dinner, with full trimmings, in her formal dining room for the mayor, his staff and prominent citizens of the town. The presentation to follow afterward.

To this, the mayor was only too happy to agree.

On the date of the feast, Maybelle’s circular driveway was filled with fancy automobiles, most complete with liveried chauffeurs. As each party arrived, they were led to the sitting room. A servant passed through carrying a silver tray filled with flutes of champagne.

In due time, after the last invited guest was present, a gong rang, calling everyone to the huge walnut table in the dining room. They consulted the place cards and sat, chatting quietly as several servers placed plates and bowls of food on the table. The largest platter contained a magnificent roast, which Maybelle herself carved, placing succulent slices on individual plates to be passed to the eager diners.

Once everyone had a filled plate in front of them, they began to eat. Conversations sprang up, discussing light subjects in keeping with the festive nature of the occasion.

After their feast was complete, and the dessert bowls removed, the Mayor rose to his feet, cleared his throat and addressed Maybelle. “On behalf of the town council and myself, I must congratulate you on such a sumptuous feast, Ms. Potter. Speaking for myself, I’ve rarely tasted such a delicious chuck roast.”

Maybelle nodded slowly, frowning slightly. “Thank you so much, Mister Mayor, but, as I recall, his name was Roger, not Chuck.”


Submitted: March 21, 2018

© Copyright 2021 B Douglas Slack. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Mr Watson

An appetizing read Bill, good job she didn't live in the country or it would have been shepards pie no doubt !!

Wed, March 21st, 2018 9:14pm


LOL. You crack me up, man. Love it! Thanks for reading.


Wed, March 21st, 2018 2:15pm

Katherine M

I knew as soon as Maybelle answered the door, there was no way anyone ever actually left. Have you ever seen Arsenic and old Lace? It's one of my favorite movies and this story reminded me of it. Also Lamb to the Slaughter, slightly, except Maybelle cooked the men and not the murder weapon. Great story, Bill!

Wed, March 21st, 2018 9:21pm


Thanks, katherine. It came to me in a flash. I wrote the whole story in about fifteen minutes. Arsenic and Old Lace is one of my favorites.


Wed, March 21st, 2018 2:30pm


Absolutely brilliant, Bill. And what an ending!

Fri, March 23rd, 2018 8:49pm


Thanks, Hully. At least it wasn't a Shepherd's Pie.


Fri, March 23rd, 2018 2:59pm


Sorry to crash your story rather than wait for an invite. This was so well crafted, nicely compacted short story. This was a brilliant piece with an effective humourous ending. Dark comedy at its finest.

Tue, March 27th, 2018 12:13am


Thanks so much, Gigi. Makes me hapy you enjoyed it.


Mon, March 26th, 2018 8:28pm

Chris Green

Brilliantly timed twist, Bill. I also like the Chuck and Maybelline connection. I was thinking of the great man as soon as I saw the name Maybelline.

Tue, March 27th, 2018 6:13am


You are the only one to catch that reference, Chris. I thought it was fairly subtle mysself.


Tue, March 27th, 2018 6:49am

Adrian Hunt

Ah, Bill. I do love a twist - especially when the twist is twisted! Nice work!

Fri, April 13th, 2018 8:52am


Thanks, Adrian. SOmething you can really sink your teeth into.


Fri, April 13th, 2018 5:09am


I came for the steak, I stayed for the mystery! Your choice of words and clever arrangement of details left me guessing until the end, and there was no mistaking what had really been happening to the unsuspecting tradesmen. Thank you for the spot of joy in my day, I needed that. Sincerely, GB

Fri, May 22nd, 2020 1:07am


I have a friend whose name is Charles. He insists we call him Chuck. Whenever he visits the house, we make sure to serve a roast. I get crazy writing ideas from everywhere. Thanks for reading and commenting.


Thu, May 21st, 2020 6:28pm

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