“Ah! ’Tis the life, it is.”
The ruddy monk smiled with nearly all of his copious self. After drying meaty hands on a ragged towel, he wiped the edge of the chalice on his robe.
“She’s a beautiful cup, she is, and everything tastes better drunk from her.”
He lugged the small wooden tub of soapy water to a drain in the coarse stone floor.
The water sloshed though the rusted grate and disappeared. Then, carefully, he placed his cup on the highest shelf he could reach in an arcane oak cupboard.
He snatched the treasure down again and grasped at his habit. Plunging his free hand in a deep pocket, he extracted a scarlet bag. This he lovingly filled with the gold-and-jewel presence that was the chalice, and replaced it on the shelf.
“Ah! That storm is quite the thing for tonight, as I’ve me cozy warm fire.” Now that he had stopped the dishwashing, he could stop to notice the howling winds without his sanctuary. And he heard another sound, indistinct, yet separate from the general howl of the wind.
“What is that, I do wonder?”
A faint thud came drifting to his ears. It carried with it the same odd, indistinct sound he’d heard before.
“I do believe there’s someone calling at the gate, there is!”
He rushed into the rain and down the stone path, arms waving.
“Wait! I’m coming, I am! I’m coming!”
He hastily produced a ponderous brass key from his habit and unlocked the giant padlock. The tiny gate swung open.
“Oh, I’m sorry, sir! Come right in, but your horse must stay in the weather, wretched beast. The gate is quite small. Tie him and come in, do.”
Silently, the towering knight obeyed, pausing to lock the gate the monk had forgotten. Stooping under the low ceiling, Galahad joined the monk within. The candles’ light leaped from his chainmail and danced in patterns on the sandstone walls.
“We shall get some soup in you, we shall.”
“Thank you, but no. I am in need only of shelter. I am on a journey.” With that he began to weave the story of his search for the Holy Grail. Describing the beauty of the rich chalice, he held the monk’s rapt attention until the artless hermit succumbed to sleep. Then, creeping off to a chamber, Galahad also slept.
When Galahad awoke, the sun’s warmth had already permeated the place, and birdsong greeted him. The eager monk had already prepared a sumptuous breakfast, and bade Galahad to stay.
“I am sorry, but I cannot. I thank you for your hospitality, but I must take my leave,” said Galahad. “I seek Our Lord’s Holy Grail.”
The monk’s countenance fell.
“ Oh, sorrowful! ’Twas splendid company, it was! My prayers go with you, I’m sure.”
Galahad mounted his weather-beaten charger with some difficulty and checked his sword. Silently, he spurred his horse to a trot, and disappeared along the pale line that lost itself in the woods.
“He was a pleasant lad, he was. I wish I could’ve helped him; though I do wonder if that was me cup he was talking about.”