The Snake in a Goblet
Once upon a time there was a very powerful Governor, honest but severe. Like so many astute officials, he frowned on idle chatter; however his position required him to at least keep in touch with the local gentry. Even so, he would quite often opt out of the many frivolous social obligations, seeing them as waste of his time. In those infrequent times away from his duties he much preferred solitary hunting trips. He only had one vice, if it could be called that, for he liked collecting finely crafted hunting weapons.
Squire Yoren, who had an inflated sense of himself so common to that class of opulent gentry, could not accept being shunned by the Governor and so, after some coercion, had obtained a reluctantly proffered invitation to dinner.
Received graciously, he was ushered to a private hall where he was served a modest feast and some choice wine. Having proposed a toast, Yoren raised the goblet to his lips and was about to take a sip when his eyes suddenly caught a coloured snake wriggling at the bottom of his cup. As it would have been rude to do otherwise, he constrained his fright and drank anyway. There was no sensation of the snake passing dawn his throat, therefore Yoren deemed it to be a supernatural phenomenon, or some form of spell and from that moment on began to feel rather ill.
Seething with anger he returned home and at once called for the family physician. The physician, despite his extensive examination, could find absolutely nothing wrong with Yoren. The Squire nevertheless, still felt seriously ill and took to his bed from then on. Seeing his demise approaching ever nearer, he eventually decided to unburden the source of his grave trouble to his closest friend Reok. “I’ve been wronged so needlessly. “ He exhaled in a whimper at the end of his fantastic accounts. “After my passing, I beseech you to avenge my death!”
Aggrieved at his friend’s condition, but being a more reasonable person, Reok extracted a promise from Yoren to hang on to life till his return.
After some finagling, Reok attained a private invitation with the Governor.
He too was received graciously and ushered to the same hall. At the conclusion of their discussion of the supposed pressing matter of state, he was asked to stay on for some food and refreshments.
Seated in the same honoured seat as his friend, Reok raised the goblet of wine to his lips. Lo and behold, he too saw the same vision as his friend at the bottom of the goblet. Hesitating for a second, he took a generous sip, and then discretely looked about him.
Hah, there was the culprit! Suppressing a bursting laugh, Roek’s eyes remained fixed for a spell on the magnificent bow, hanging from the high ceiling.
The Governor, seeing the object of his attention at once volunteered, “I was most fortunate to have acquired that rare hunting bow from a Chief of the Gugeos tribe. Isn’t it magnificent?”
“Indeed it is. “ Roek exclaimed, after partaking of more wine. “It looks decidedly deadly, carved with such meticulous detail to imitate a venomous snake.” He kept the rest to himself, deciding to spare his foolish friend any further humiliation.