The Feast of Fabian, according to Theobald the Pious
by Karen Walker, 31st October 2022

I explained it to the abbot in this way.   

The goose is a watchman. More than any other creature of Almighty God, it discerns the character of men. Cackles a warning when it witnesses wrong.

We, the true brethren of the abbey, are geese. We fly high far above earthly things. We are the colour of ashes like our modest garb of penitence.

My wish, I told the abbot, was but to welcome the new scribe named Fabian. I took him a gift from the hot, dark kitchen—a great goose feather freshly plucked.  

The man sat atop a tall stool. His chambers were so bright I rubbed my smoky eyes.

Ah, such beauty: skin and parchment without blemish, his hands milk white and as unbroken as the graceful swoops, loops he penned. His dark eyes sparkled with the gold and silver on his brush.

I asked about the great book upon which he worked. "Pray tell brother, what is it?"

"A masterpiece for the abbey, a gathering of knowledge of all godly and ungodly things known," came the reply from on high.   

He ate me at a glance. "You are a cook. What add you to my opus magna, littlest brother?"

I told him all about cookery and about that most noble and delicious being, the goose.

Fabian fell silent. I thought he well pleased with me and the quill.

But, alas, with a mocking smile, he threw the feather. It and my earnest heart fluttered to the floor. He kicked me. I saw the curl on the toe of his fine blue slippers, the curl on his red lips. I fled.

Thereafter, I watched Fabian from the shadows. Bore witness to how he was late to prayers, first to the table. Despite the lightness of his letters, he heaped the plate with my hard labour. He became the plumpest of all the brethren.

"Does God not teach that gluttony is a sin and frugality a virtue?" I asked the abbot. A good goose in the village market costs four shillings. "And that it is blessed to keep closed the abbey's purse and, instead, lay money in the hand of the poor?"

Moreover, hadn't all enjoyed what I had prepared for the great supper? The abbot himself waved his fork and summoned me to the dining hall. He praised my gander.  

The stuffing was sage and parsley, garlic and grapes. I had sewed the holes shut, so no juice escaped. Turned the heavy carcass on the spit until the sun fell exhausted from the sky. My arms ached. I cried in pain, but obeyed. God demanded a divine sauce made from blood and sweet spices.

My brethren licked their lips. It honoured me. Me, a simple man from the belly of the abbey.

I stood proud and true before the abbot explaining it all in this way. Then, most humbly, I told him how ungrateful and unseemly it was to be wailing so, tearing at his raiment, and, with eyes as round as if beholding the Devil, to exclaim, "What have you done, Theobald?"

For he had eaten from Fabian, too.