A Patchwork Fairy Tale: the one with the pie, the count, and the mysterious baker.
A young count happens to eat the best pie he has ever tasted at a party and makes it his mission to find whoever baked it so he can marry them, or at the very least offer them a job at his castle.
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[Gentle theme music]
Laura: Hi, you can call me Laura, I’m here to tell you a story if you like. You found one of my Patchwork Fairy Tales. This is the one with the pie, the count, and the mysterious baker.
The Count That Fell in Love With a Pie
There once was a young count who had everything his heart desired. He employed many people whom all respected and esteemed him and he had many friends that valued him greatly. He had a fine house, never wanted for money and was known to be charitable and honest. Often the young count exclaimed:
“It is almost frightening to think how happy I am!”
But the count luckily wasn’t one to worry about matters that could not improve by worrying, so really he wasn’t frightened at all. Instead he was very happy indeed and tried to share this happiness with as many people as he possibly could.
One of his favourite ways to do this was to give marvellous parties to which he invited at least half the neighbourhood.
In the summer those parties took place mostly in the count’s beautiful garden. On one glorious summer evening the count hosted a party like never before. There were eighty different pies and ninety different wines and at least a hundred coloured lanterns adorning the garden.
All the guests were merry and the count was too, for he could not find a single reason why he would not be.
After a splendid evening of enjoyment, the count sat down to eat a last slice of pie. After all, there is always room for a last slice of pie.
Now the count had eaten many pies in his life, for he was a great lover of good food. But when he bit in the crust of this pie it seemed to him that the world stopped spinning and all the sounds of the party ceased.
This was not a pie. This was warm comfort and sugar-dusted love baked into a crust.
The count ate in stunned silence, tears welling up in his eyes, but politely drawing back again, not wanting to ruin the moment.
When his plate was empty the count lifted his head and said softly:
“Who made this pie?”
He spoke so low that his voice slipped under the noise of festivities and reached his servants immediately. But they could only tell him that the pie had come from his own kitchens.
“Then fetch the cook and tell her to bring me that pie!” the count cried.
The cook came and she brought the rest of the pie.
“Did you bake this pie?” the count asked earnestly.
“No, sir,” the cook admitted.
“Then fetch me the girl that did,” the count said with stars in his eyes.
“But sir,” the cook said unhappily. “We did not bake this pie, it was a gift sent from the duke’s house. They sent a basket for the party, since he had to decline your invitation.”
The count pushed his chair back and rose to his feet.
“Then we shall go to the duke and find the cook that made that pie! And when I’ve found her and she’ll allow me, I will marry her on the spot!”
The servants stared at their master in terrified confusion, but the party guests cheered, for they were very drunk and it all sounded very romantic.
“Sir,” said the butler. “You cannot possibly call on the duke now, it is the middle of the night.”
“Then we shall go first thing tomorrow morning!” the count said and the butler, who was a married woman, knew better than to argue with a youth with stars in his eyes. She had been such a youth herself once.
So the next day the count took the pie to the duke and asked him who had made it. The duke laughed.
“Someone or other in my kitchens, my good man,” he said.
“You do not know who?” the count asked, disappointed.
“I employ far too many to know them all by name,” the duke laughed.
“Well, I am determined to find her!” the count cried.
“That must have been a pretty good pie,” the duke said, surprised.
“It was the most marvellous pie anyone has ever tasted,” the count said solemnly. “And when I find the cook I will marry her.”
“Well!” the duke exclaimed. “This I must see! Let us go to the kitchens my friend, to find you your bride!”
Of course everyone in the duke’s kitchens was all aflutter when the duke suddenly came down with his guest without so much as a warning. All the cooks and kitchen maids lined up nervously, while the duke announced that he was looking for the cook that had baked a certain pie that had been sent to his friend the count.
The pie was studied very carefully and the cooks and maids looked at each other. Aprons were wrung in hands and feet were shuffled until someone dared to say:
“We don’t know milord. None of us made that pie, it must have been one of the hired hands.”
The head cook had turned quite scarlet. Both to have the duke find out that she had important cooking done by hired hands from outside and to have the count hear she sent him one of those pies instead of her own.
But the duke did not seem to mind a tall.
“Aha! The plot thickens,” he cried. “It seems that your cook will not be easy to find.”
He laughed at the count, but his young friend did not laugh back. He was very serious.
“I will find her,” the count said. “And I’ll propose to her the moment I do.”
All the kitchen folk gasped and glanced at each other as the count and the duke went back upstairs.
The count went home, thinking of ways to find the person that baked that wonderful pie. But at the same time many cooks and many maids from both his household and the duke’s told each other that the charming young count wanted to marry the cook that baked a certain pie for his last party.
This was very exciting and romantic news and it wasn’t long before most of the female servants in town knew about it. Not everyone, of course, but the kitchen maids told the parlour maids and the parlour maids told the lady’s maids and the lady’s maids told their ladies and soon quite a large number of young ladies that had never baked a pie in their life were trying their hand at it and sending the result to the count.
When the first pie arrived the housekeeper took it to the count and said:
“Sir, some young lady has sent you a pie, asking whether this wasn’t the pie you fell in love with.”
The count turned round eagerly and smelled the pie.
“No,” he said, slightly disappointed. “It isn’t, but I shall have a piece anyway and toast the young lady’s health.”
So he did and although the pie wasn’t very good, the count thought it was a very sweet gesture. He still thought so when the seventh pie arrived, but by the time the seventeenth pie arrived he started to grow despondent.
“Most of these young women hardly know how to bake,” he sighed. “Have my men come back yet from town?”
Because the count had sent some people to enquire where one could find hired hands to do cooking and baking, in hopes of finding the same people the duke’s cook had hired.
“Not yet, Sir,” the butler said and she exchanged glances with the housekeeper who was trying to hide two more pies behind her back.
The count sighed and at the sight of more pies he groaned and shut himself up in his study.
The pies kept coming and the count’s men kept returning without any useful information and as the days went on the count became sad and gloomy. He would not come out of his study and he sulked and sighed all day. His servants were very worried and lamented that even if one only fell in love with a pie, it was still possible to break one’s heart.
Now it was so that in the town, not very far from either the duke or the count, lived an old woman in a little house. She shared the house with her grandson, whom she loved like the morning flowers loved the day itself. He was a very busy young man, for when he was out he worked to earn money and when he was home he helped her with the housework. The woman had grown old quickly and her dear boy had started cooking and cleaning at a very young age.
Now this woman knew of the count, of course. He was a very nice young man, that helped those that needed help and he had a habit of visiting the doctor or the apothecary and paying all outstanding accounts. Hers had been among them more than once and when she heard the young count had shut himself up because of a broken heart she felt for him.
“It is sad, to hear such accounts of our cheerful nobleman,” she said to her son one night.
“That is true,” her grandson said. “He’s a good man.”
“I’ve heard people are sending him pies,” the woman mused. “Why do you think that is?”
“Probably to cheer him up,” the young man said. “Nothing cheers people up like good food.”
“Well, then you should send him one of your pies!” the woman said. “I’ve never known anyone to frown while tasting your food.”
The young man laughed. “I will if it pleases you, but I should think the count is used to finer pastry,” he said.
“Nonsense,” his grandmother beamed. “A good pie is a good pie, no matter who it’s served to.”
So the young man baked a pie, wrapped it up, gave it to his grandmother, kissed her goodbye and went out to work.
The old woman put on her coat and hat and went to the house of the count.
When she knocked on the door and a footman opened to see another woman carrying another pie, he sighed.
“I do not think we shall have any more admissions, good woman,” he said.
“I don’t know what I should be admitting,” the woman said and she gave the young footman a stern look that reminded him very much of his own grandmother. “But I’ve brought this pie especially to cheer up the young count, because he’s always been so good to everyone.”
“Well, I am sure he would thank you,” the footman mumbled, taking the pie.
“Very good, son,” the woman nodded. “Be sure to give it to him and a good day to you.”
The footman nodded and after he had watched the old woman turn around and scuffle away he brought the pie to the butler.
“The master cannot possibly want more pie,” the butler objected. “Especially since they were mostly terrible.”
“But this is a gift to lift his spirits, nothing else,” the footman said.
The butler considered this. She knew her master would be pleased to hear someone was concerned for him, no matter who it was or what they sent him by way of a present.
“Then I will bring it to him,” she decided.
So the butler carried the pie upstairs to her master’s study.
The young count was sulking at his desk when the butler knocked on the door and silently entered.
“A woman from town brought you this in hopes it would cheer you, Sir,” the butler said.
The count turned his head and waved the butler away.
“No more pies,” he said. “I cannot bear to…”
The count’s voice trailed off. The comforting smell of crumbly pastry and sugary fruit filled the study. The count hesitated and the butler smiled.
“Perhaps I shall have one piece,” the count said.
Cheerfully the butler fetched his master a plate and cutlery and the count cut a big slice of pie.
At the first bite unapologetic tears started rolling down the count’s face, because finding a love you lost is even more emotional than discovering it for the first time.
“This is the pie…” the count gasped. “I mean this is the cook!”
He leapt to his feet and beamed at his butler.
“Who brought this pie?” he cried.
“An old lady,” the butler said, startled. “I shall fetch the footman that answered the door.”
“No need!” the count cried out and before the butler could answer he was bounding down the stairs.
When he found the young footman that had taken the pie he asked him everything he could remember about her and the count was ashamed that he did not know her. This woman sent him the most marvellous pie, simply to cheer him up and he did not even know who she was.
“Beg your pardon, Sir,” one of the housemaids said quietly from a corner. “I know who she is.”
The count whirled round and looked at the girl with wide eyes.
“She lives in a small house not far from here,” the maid said. “My mum visits with her sometimes.”
“Then your mother is a marvellous woman!” the count cried out. “And you a marvellous girl! Can you show me the way there?”
The maid turned quite red. “Yes,” she whispered.
“Marvellous!” the count cried. The stars in his eyes were back and his heart was singing all the time they walked through the streets.
The maid led the way, away from the stately houses with high windows and to the narrow streets where small houses leaned against each other for support.
“This is it, Sir,” the maid curtsied.
“I do thank you,” the count said. “I shall give you the rest of the day off to visit your family, they live on the other side of town, do they not?”
“Yes, Sir,” the maid whispered.
“Well then, take this to bring you there and the rest to spend on yourself and your marvellous family!” the count said and he handed the maid the content of his entire pocketbook.
He left the little maid standing there, blushing red as a rose with eyes as wide as saucers. Her hand, heavy with money, trembled, and as she watched the count knock on the door of the little house she smiled. And her smile grew wider and wider with every silly, frivolous thing she thought of she could now give her family that they had always secretly wanted, but could never quite afford. So by the time she actually arrived at her parents’ place, dropped off by a coach, there wasn’t a single girl with a wider smile for three cities over.
Meanwhile the count had thanked the old woman for the pie at least a thousand times and had sat down at her kitchen table.
“I am glad you liked it, Sir,” the woman smiled. “And I’m glad it coaxed you outside.”
“I did not like it,” the count said. “I loved it with all my heart.”
The woman smiled.
“I must know,” the count said. “Did you bake that marvellous pie?”
“No, I did not,” the woman said. “It was my grandson that baked the pie.”
“Your grandson?” the count repeated.
At that very moment the door opened and the grandson appeared. His hair full of flour from his work at the mill and his arms full of groceries.
“Hello, grandmother!” he smiled.
“Hello, my boy,” the woman laughed. “See here, it’s the count come to see us about your pie.”
The young man started and made a clumsy sort of bow.
The count had already risen to his feet and looked at the man that had baked the pies that had made him so incredibly happy. He smiled at the young man and said:
“Your pies are undoubtedly the best I ever ate.”
“I only baked one,” the young man said, putting down the groceries.
“Yes, but did you not also help in the duke’s kitchens some time ago?”
“I did,” the young man admitted.
“Then you were the cook I was looking for all this time,” the count smiled.
The young man laughed apologetically.
“I did say that when I found the cook that baked that pie, I would marry her,” the count said. “So I’d like to apologize for not proposing to you on the spot.”
“Then I’d like to apologize for having declined your offer if you had,” the young man answered. “Because I’m not at all not a love at first sight kind of man.”
“Ah, that is a pity, because I certainly am,” the count nodded.
They laughed at each other.
“Might I instead ask you to become my cook?” the count said.
“You might,” the young man said. “Though I’d rather be only a pastry chef.”
And so the very talented young man became the count’s pastry chef.
The count offered to take his chef’s grandmother in as well, or buy her a new house, but she declined both. Every day her grandson sent a boy round with a basket full of food from the count’s kitchen and the old woman was glowing with pride whenever she heard that the fine folk visiting the count all adored the pies he served.
As for the count and his chef, they were both very happy. For the first could enjoy the pie he loved whenever he wanted and the second could take care of himself and his grandmother by doing what he loved and bring happiness to others at the same time.
Some people say the count eventually did marry the pastry chef. Others say that they became the very best of friends and that the count never married at all, but that the pastry chef did marry someone. Probably someone handsome, that laughed loudly and blushed quietly. And other people still say that the count married a very rude young lady that came for dinner one night but did not speak one word to him because she was too busy stuffing her face with pastries.
As for me, I do not know, but it doesn’t signify. Because this wasn’t a story about who marries whom, but the story of the count that fell in love with a pie.
Laura: And with that last word stitching up the very last sentence, this story has its proper end.
Thank you so much for listening, lovely of you to stop by. If you want to listen to more of these, or find out about my other projects, check out patchworkfairytales.wordpress.com. You can also find me at laurasimonsdaughter.tumblr.com which is full of folklore and urban fantasy.
There’s another tale to tell some other Wednesday but until then…
Charm dragons with cream, bribe magpies with baubles, and be safe~
Copyright Laura Simons, please do not copy my stories without my permission, lest you insult the fae.