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Satan's Tongue-Pie by Anatole France


SATAN lay in his bed with the flaming curtains. The physicians and apothecaries of Hell, finding their patient had a white tongue, inferred he was suffering from a weakness of the stomach and prescribed a diet at once light and nourishing.

Satan swore he had no appetite for aught but a certain earthly dish, which women excel in making when they meet in company, to wit, tongue-pie.

The doctors agreed there was nothing could better suit His Majesty's stomach.

In an hour's time the dish was set before the King; but he found it insipid and tasteless.

He sent for his Head Cook and asked him where the pie came from.

“From Paris, sire. It is quite fresh; 'twas baked this very morning, in the Marais Quarter, by a dozen gossips gathered round the bed at a woman's lying-in.”

“Ah! now I know the reason it is so flavourless,” returned the Prince of Darkness. “You have not been to the best cooks for dishes of the sort. Citizens' wives, they do their best; but they lack delicacy, they lack the fine touch of genius. Women of the people are clumsier still. For a real good tongue-pie a Nunnery is the place to go to. There's nobody to match these old maids of Religion for a pretty skill in compounding all the needful ingredients,—fine spices of rancour, thyme of backbiting, fennel of insinuation, bay-leaf of calumny.”

This parable is taken from a sermon of the good Father Gillotin Landoulle, a poor, unworthy Capuchin.


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