Then Abbot David looked grave, and said that this
brought to his
mind the painful fact that John the Cellarer had been caught robbing
cask of best Malvoisie that was reserved for special occasions.
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
"Prithee, my Lord Abbot,
forgive me!" he cried,
falling on his
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
without being found out, and—"
"Rascal! that but maketh thy
fault the worse!
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
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
"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
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."