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Henri de Ceredigion

Chapter Five: The Guests Arrive and Disaster / Chapitre Cinq: Les invités arrivent et les désastres

For the next half hour Henri greeted all of his guests in the traditional English manner. He bowed to the Captain who was first to enter, then took Porthos’s cloak from his shoulders, engaged in polite conversation with Aramis before chastising Athos as he wolfed down the small choux pastry puffs as if there was no tomorrow with a “Now, now, Athos, leave some of the rest of us!”

“But I can’t help it” he protested, “They are just so moreish” and with that swiped another handful of them much to the amusement of everyone else. As the laughter continued, Planchet entered and bowed said “Master, you are wanted in the kitchen”.

Henri bowed and followed Planchet who turned to him with a worried expression.

“Is something the matter?” Henri asked

Planchet nodded and making sure that no one could hear bar his master he whispered “We’ve forgotten the dumplings for the boeuf bourguignon!” and with that Henri’s world collapsed.

“You can’t have a boeuf bourguignon without dumplings” said Planchet as Henri paced the kitchen, “it’s like a summer’s day without the heat!”

If Henri was panic stricken, it was not showing, but inside he knew that Planchet was right. He had been challenged to make a meal fit for the Captain, Athos, Aramis, Porthos and Planchet and he was not going to fall at this last hurdle. He stopped pacing, closed his eyes and concentrated hard on the question “What is a dumpling?”

As Planchet watched with concern, the Captain called “Is everything all right in there? It is getting towards the hour of six you know!”

Planchet was about to say “My master will be with you now” when Henri opened his eyes and exclaimed, “Eureka!” and starting flying around the kitchen like a madman. Grabbing a day old baguette from the cupboard, he started to cut it into large pieces, poured some milk over them and then added an egg and started to mix as fast as he could. He then asked Planchet to place a spoonful of flour into the bowl and carried on mixing. After a while he grabbed some of the mix in his hands and squashed them together and presented it to Planchet and asked “Now, what does that remind you of?”

Planchet exclaimed “A dumpling, master!” and melted some butter in a large pan and placed the small baguette dumplings into the pan and a few moments later he placed them in the dish that the beef was cooked in and handed it to Henri who entered the room where his guests was and announced “Monsieurs, your meal!” and placed the dish in the centre of the table, took off the lid and was greeted with “Ooooh” from everyone around.

As Planchet served the meal, the Captain stood up and said, “Gentlemen” and as Planchet sat down at the table, he said grace and with that the meal could begin.