PodCastle 137: The Beautiful Coalwoman

by Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud. Translated by Edward Gauvin.
Read by Wilson Fowlie of The Maple Leaf Singers.
Originally published in La Belle Charbonniere.

“Sire, if it pleases you to take your rest here, this house is yours.”

“Thank you, old man. Heaven will be grateful for your hospitality toward its humble servant, for I am a Christian knight.”

The old man crossed himself at once. In school, Maxence had been taught the how to pay his way in the coin of word. The oldest of the children reappeared, ewer in hand.

“My thanks, boy. Tell me, would you know how to look after my steed?”

The boy gazed at his grandfather without answering.

“Of course he does, sire!” said the old man. “Off you go—you know where fodder can be found, and make sure you give the horse a good rubdown!”

The boy walked toward the horse. Maxence told him he could ride it instead of leading it to fodder. The boy smiled at last. Maxence plunged the ewer into the spring’s fresh water.

“It’s good water, it is, sire,” the old man said. “It’s kept me in good health for seventy years, it has!”

“Upon my word, seventy years! It must be good indeed—you seem quite sprightly still!”

On hearing these words, the old man couldn’t keep from contorting his face in a grin. Maxence saw he would have food and shelter tonight for a trifle.

Rated PG.