“Fie!” Linde sniffed, tearing the meat from his pork loin. “If you say we must live among the poor then we must, but we needn’t eat like them.” I couldn’t believe the audacity of him to have his servant bring him his usual dinner during a pilgrimage of humility.
“Yes, we need,” I admonished. “If you’re going to eat that, at least share with everyone.” I gestured at the men and women sitting up from their beds of rags to stare.
“Hmph,” he grunted, tossing a bone in their direction.
“A bone isn’t enough if you’re going to beat that curse.”
Linde scowled, sunk his teeth into another mouthful of meat and looked away.
“Agh.” I looked back at the onlookers, “I’m so sorry, it’s just his curse that makes him act this way. He’s really a good person.”
The few not distracted fighting over the bone seemed unconvinced. Linde seemed completely absorbed in his supper.
“Let me undastand,” said one with matted hair and a lazy eye, “‘the curse makes ‘im a scoundrel so ‘es gotta lift the curse by not bein’ a scoundrel.”
“That don’t seem fair.”
“Not really, no.”
“How long ‘as he been cursed?” asked a little girl carrying an armless, legless stuffed bear.
“As long as I’ve known him.”
“How did he get cursed?” asked the man.
“No one knows except the King. He won’t say.”
“So he’s cursed to be a scoundrel and the only way to lift the curse is just to learn not to be one, and he’s always had the curse and no one will say where it came from.” confirmed the man, exchanging a glance with the little girl.
I glanced back at Linde, who was running his fingers on the gold plate and licking them.
“Is ‘e cursed to be a slob, too?” asked the little girl. I couldn’t tell if she was being serious.
“Ah,” I said.
“Do you think ‘e might jus’ be a normal scoundrel?” asked the man.
“Ah,” I hesitated, then I bent in close, “don’t let the king hear you say that.”