For your amusement...story time!

Brett Williams brettwi at
Sat Sep 2 21:17:28 PDT 1995

>From the pen of Lord Thomas Ignatius Perigrinus, of the Kingdom of 
>Atenveldt. All typos are mine!  I read this some years ago while 
>wandering the Rialto and thought to save it...

I am minded of the time I made saltpeter at the Northern California 
Renaissance faire.  If thou wouldst permit, may I relate my tale, which 
I promise thee, has good humor therein.
I followed the scrip of Birringucchio, 1540.

I took a large barrel, and did bore therein a hole near unto the 
bottom.  Into this small hole did I affix a bung, so as to draw off the
liquors when they were ripe.  Then did I find me some goodly horse 
manure which had dried but not been rained upon.  I specifically 
searched for that which was rimed with white.

Of this manure I took and cast a full four fingers depth into my pot, 
and then two fingers of ash, and a final finger of lime.  This I did 
repeat until the earthly matter did come nigh unto the top of my 
barrel.  Then did I invite twenty men all stout and true to add their 
waters into my barrel, which, they being full of goodly ale, they 
proceeded to accomplish with alacrity.

I then stirred this goodly brew with a stout stick.  But, as I did tir 
it, I did see that many of the larger turds did not dissolve, so 
casting aside my shirt, I did plunge my arms into the vile soup and did 
break up the clumps with my hands.  It was at this time that one of the 
Blue Boys, Her Majesty's own guard, did come unto me, and knowing that 
I was a man of martial dispostition as to himself, he did ask at what 
was I adventuring?

So I took out a goodly turd, which being covered by wet ashes and lime, 
did seem more like unto a rock than the outfall of a horse, and I did 
press it into his hand and say thusly unto him, "I'faith, I am assaying 
to make saltpeter...but as you can see, my turds have not broken!"  
Stout fellow he was, he did blanch for but a moment, and then proceeded 

to answer me in like manner, discussing how the dissolution was 
proceeding.  Mut mind you, under his breath he swore to me that I would 
die afore the day was through!

Then, once I had accomplisht my goal, and the whole been reduced to the 
consistency of some diabolical gruel, I left it to stand in the hot sun 
for four and twenty hours.

Upon the next day, the mass had achieved an excellence of odor which 
was surpassing ripe!  And so, preparing to follow the dictates of 
learned Birringucchio, I prepared myself to draw forth the waters.  I 
once again cast off my shirt, and plunged my hands into the mass to 
affix a wad of straw over the hole to act as a filter.  And as I stood 
near this vile vat, two comely but cupshotten women come up unto me, 
and insensate to the evidence of their noses, enquired of me as to the 
contents of this evil cauldron.

Now, I must admit that these fair women must have been deep into their 
cups many times and more that day, for not only did they fail to smell 
the effluvience of this morass, they also gave evidence of finding me 
atractive unto them (remember, I am lame, bald, and exceedingly ugly!). 
So before I could answer them, one began to run her fingers up and down 
my arm in what could have been a most seductive fashion, had not the 
arm in question been lubricated with the combined and fermented waste 
of horse, man and fire.

It was but my duty to inform her what she was rubbing her comely 
fingers through, whereupon her colleague did let forth a most amazed 
laugh, and did call sport upon the unfortunate one.  This was, mayhaps, 
unwise, for the offended party did turn and assay to clean her fingers 
upon the shirt of she who did laugh.

This succeeded in quelling the laughter, but transmutated mirth to 
umbrage, and quickly into a missile of mire which caught the 
flirtatious one square upon her shirt.  And thus by degrees did they 
proceed from shirt to hair, and unto a rolling catfight interrupted 
only by the need to refresh their armamentaria with new handfuls of 
deadly dung.

Needless to say, this sight amused me greatly, and caused such mirth 
among my fellows that we all lay helpless upon the ground, clutching 
our sides and rolling with laughter.

Eventually the two by now slime encrusted combatants left, and I 
proceeded to drain my broth, and rinsed it twice with water, and boiled 
it down to receive one handful of pale brown crystals of saltpeter.  
But I must swear, the making of it was more rewarding than the salt.

I hope that my tale may have given thee some amusement, and I remain, 
thy dutious and obedient (but alas, not blue) servant--

                Thomas Ignatius Peregrinatus

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