Treasure Island

Peter Bolton

(2nd April 1942 / Brecon)

How to Become a Waiter

When Larial reached the town, his purse was empty.
Nay, he had no purse, for the robbers had stripped him of all possessions.
There was none to aid him, for self-reliance was the ethos of that place
Therefore, needing employment, he resolved to apprentice himself to some trade.
Savonar was a goldsmith with spectacles of gold.
He peered at Larial through their burnished rims.
‘So, you would learn this art, this regal craft?
You, who come from out the East with naught but your name.’
The first task set, a repetitious one.
For in the grand design, the etching of fine detail must by hand be done.
His instructions given, Savonar bolted the door
Not risking the loss of his stock to a stranger.
Larial worked quickly and, the task complete, he sought to please his new master.
His idle hands drew from the raw metal a bracelet of fanciful and exquisite design. This he presented, to Savonar on his return.
For his pains Savonar took him by the ear and threw him from his workshop.
‘Be gone, ’ he said, ‘you must learn to do only as you are told.’
Savonar had seen that this young man had such skill that, should he stay, he himself would soon be eclipsed.

Next Larial sought to earn his keep with a jeweller, who set him to work stringing pearls.
Once this task was done, each necklace perfectly graded and balanced and, once more confined, he put his time to use creating a pendant from the precious stones around him.
This ornament shone brighter than the most glorious constellation,
Its facets being aligned with absolute precision.
‘By what right do you tamper with my stock, ’ the jeweller shouted as he cast Larial out.
Once again it was clear that the trainee would outstrip his master.

Thirdly, and in like manner, Larial took tutelage with a master carpenter for whom he duly sanded down the timbers to a perfect smoothness.
A casket he then made, to while away his waiting.
The glowing colours of the fine cut laminates were asking for the knife.
The sun rose high from an oasis green, a scene most delightfully expressed in marquetry.
The furniture maker was furious and he would have crowned Larial with his work had he not realised its quality.
You may think that Larial had been slow to learn his lesson.
Very well.

He next enquired at the inn whether or not there be some menial task by which he could obtain a crust.
There he was bidden to stir the coffee that warmed upon the stove.
In due course the liquid began to boil and, seeing that the drink would be spoiled, Larial took the pot and entered the room where the guests were dining.
‘Ah! ’ they said. ‘See, the coffee comes, ’ and they held up their cups.
Larial duly poured the beverage for their pleasure.
Never was there such spitting and cursing!
The hotelier, Barnaddin, emerged on hearing this hubbub.
Seeing what had happened he said to Larial,
‘I see that you do not like to keep my customers waiting.
However, you must learn that in this city no one takes their coffee black and unsweetened.’
Larial was chastened and he said,
‘Sir, it is only my wish to attend to their needs so that they may relax and enjoy their repast without the least reminder of the world.’
Barnaddin saw that the young man, though inept, would learn, and he thereupon offered him employment.
Thus will Larial become, in due course, a master of the art of entertaining.

Submitted: Monday, April 08, 2013
Edited: Wednesday, October 09, 2013

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

In spite of her problems, Esme does not want to be a burden. This poem was her reply when asked why she wanted a job as a waitress.

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