Garrick’s Contest

Garrick had submitted his name to the lists. He had honed his skills and was prepared for the challenge ahead. He looked over the competition, looking for any sign of weakness or strength.
To the left there was a pock-marked and portly man. He was all bluster and no challenge. The young behemoth next to him would worry some, but not Garrick. His eyes knew were to look and he could tell the youth had never truly been tested. In later contests the boy would give a challenge, but not today.
It was the wiry figure to the right that gave Garrick pause. Small, petite features and brown eyes. She was the one to watch. The others had laughed that a woman had entered the lists, but Garrick watched and Garrick saw. The way she loosened and flexed her hands, the way she stretched back and forth, side to side. This was the challenge.
He readied steel in his hand and waited for the chime to start. The anticipation was thick. This morning he had felt that this would be his time. Now he wasn’t so sure.
The bell rang and he flew into action. In front of him was a sausage still stuck to the bone. A quick cut with his knife and the meat smoothly came off. Lady and Portly knew the same trick, but Behemoth was strongly to eat around the bone.
The sausage was spicy and the oil for it trickled into Garrick’s beard. Next he dug into the shepherd’s pie. The top layer of potato was whipped and had grown crispy in the oven. The meat underneath was speckled with peas and carrots. His knife danced herding then pie into his trough-like mouth. Two courses down. Five yet to go.
He grinned at the flatbread covered in cheese and tomato with dashes of basil leaves. He rolled it into a tube and finished it in three quick bites. He heard a wrenching sound. The behemoth was out.
The cream and corn soup was nicely chilled and went down smoothly. The half honey melon slowed him down. He cut it into thirds to be able to scrap fruit from rind easily. From the corner of his eye he Lady attacking it as a whole. That would give her the edge in speed.
But next was the white trout. He smiled. He had a family secret. A quick twist on the head and a yank on the tail and almost all bones came out clean. After he had polished that away a hacking sound indicated that a bone has all but eliminated Portly from the struggle.
It was down to him and Lady. The next course would detainee the victor. The crowd was roaring. The judges pulled the silver lid for, the secret desert as the finished the fish in turn. Strawberry pie. The gods had smiled on him.
Many spoke of the Yuletide fair in later years. Some told of the great joust between Sir Engmar and Craigr the Black. Some jested about how Fenn’s mighty hammer had snapped the spear of Harris at the battlefields and there could be no mention of Lady Julie being named the Yuletide Queen without snide comments of what she must have done to earn such favor.
But when talk turned to Garrick voiced hushed and whispered in awe. Old men shook their heads. The slight girl had seemed all but assured to win. And then came the pie. The lass had scarce but started when Garrick let loose a belch of victory. And henceforth those asking for strawberry pie during the Yuletide Fair would ask for a slice of Garrick’s Victor. They would eat and they would remember.


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