Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Price of Greed

Photo Courtesy of Magpie Tales
Jean Luc sailed the high seas more than 400 years ago under the French flag.  His cargo was gold, precious gems and  brandy.  He was trusted by King Henri to return payment for trade goods.  Jean Luc thought "why shouldn't I get something for my services.  After all I am the one taking all the risks while the King sits safely upon his throne being waited on hand and foot.  His bath drawn by lusty handmaidens, who stood ready to wrap him in soft warm towels.  His large soft four-poster bed warmed by hot stones and an elegant glass of brandy on his night table.  Here I am risking foul weather, pirates and God only know what other dangers.  No, the King could spare some coin."  Stealing from the Crown, however, was treason, so he must come up with a plan.  With pirates roaming the waters, an attack and loss would be horrible but not a crime. 

He, Jean Luc, a French nobleman, would be admired for his bravery as he battled the pirates to protect the Crown's assets.  He would ultimately lose the King's gold to the marauderers, and so the plan was put into motion.  The ship sailed into pirate infested waters and a mock battle ensued, with great damage inflicted on the ship.  Jean Luc's crew, loyal to the end with the promise of gold, carried out the "fighting", sustaining injuries and appearing thoroughly defeated. 

Miraculously, no one was mortally wounded, but the pirates escaped with the gold, or at least that was how it was portrayed to the King.  The King was outraged, and called forth his Navy to track down and kill the pirates and retrieve his gold.  Pirates were killed right and left, but no gold was recovered.   

After Jean Luc's ship was repaired, he and his crew fled France under cover of darkness on a moonless night with their precious cargo, which was stored in a compartment beneath a false bottom in the hold.  When they reached a safe haven, Jean Luc went below to retrieve the chest, and opened it to revel in his fortune, which, by the way, he had no plans to share.  When he lifted the lid, he was first shocked, then angry.  All the chest contained were packages  of salt and one lead crystal salt shaker.  He was so distraught that he murdered his entire crew and threw the bodies overboard along with the salt.

What Jean Luc, in his misery, didn't consider was that the salt, due to the hated salt tax, was worth more than gold, and was thus the payment for goods.  Pass the salt, please.

Written for Magpie Tales.


  1. ah now this is a great story!
    Well told!

  2. There you go, ill-gotten gains bring you no profit.
    Great story.

  3. Yes, as Friko -- crime never pays. In fact, it harms immeasurably.

    LOVE salt on my popcorn. And corn-on-the-cob.


  4. You tell a great tale! I think your niche might just be historical fiction. Any truth to this greedy tale?

  5. Kathe W. - Thank you, glad you enjoyed it.

    Friko- Thanks. My nobleman wasn't so noble after all.

    Jannie- I love salty potato chips. I'm glad salt is cheaper these days!

    Ashley- Thank you! I'm glad you came and left me a comment. :) The truth part is about salt being worth more than gold. There were times in history where people got paid for their labors with salt.

  6. A quote too true . . . "I was right not to be afraid of any thief but myself, who will end by leaving me nothing." (Katherine Anne Porter)

  7. Great take on a very interesting story! Loved it!

  8. This is a great tale! I loved this story and want to read more.

  9. Fabulous Magpie, Linda! At least he won't have any salt leftover to rub in his wounds!

  10. Wonderful tale. (love Talon's comment)

  11. Hi Linda .. loved this .. and salt was worth more than gold at times. The British built a hedge as a customs barrier across India - primarily to collect the salt tax.

    I love the way everyone's added to your story .. Hilary

  12. This a great story. It reads like it's not fiction and I adored the ending. I guess when we are selfish, we get our least Jean Luc did!

    Well written. I enjoyed this one very much:~)

  13. So well done..something else for Johnny Depp to star in, perhaps??

  14. I enjoyed this, Linda. There is a heaviness in this story... and yet, it is sweet with wisdom. Salt in a wound will wake you up :)

  15. A well-seasoned tale! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  16. mcmerb- Nice quote!

    Linda- Thanks, glad you liked it.

    Jen- Thank you, glad you enjoyed it.

    Talon- Thanks. It' probably not much less painful, though.

    Tess Kincaid- Thank you.

    Hilary- Thanks for that interesting fact about the salt tax. I learn a lot through writing these stories.

    Sara- Thanks. He wasn't so "noble" after all was he?

    Lyn- Thanks, glad you liked it. He did make an interesting pirate.

    Davina- Thank you. There are some life lessons here, however tragically learned.

    Promising Poets Parking Lot - Thank you.

    Lolamouse- Thank you, and thanks for the return visit.

  17. Well done. I love the thought of TONS of salt and one tiny salt shaker. Psych and then -- reverse psych!

  18. Excellent - wealth is in the eye of the beholder! :)

  19. Great job, Linda. A nice, tightly-written story with a good moral to it. I saw this prompt, but couldn't come up with anything.

  20. cardiogirl- Thank you!

    Tumblewords- Thanks, and indeed it is. He should've kept the salt!

    Jayne- Thank you! I understand that not every prompt fits every person's creativity. I've passed on a number myself.

  21. Intriguing story! We must consider our treasures carefully, and measure the prices we pay.


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