LeFou had been walking all night. Mainly because he didn't have enough money for a room at the last inn. What else was there to do?
He arrived at a nondescript little town early that fateful morning. What a quiet village, he thought to himself.
Tired and footsore, the newcomer wondered where a guy could get a bite to eat. Cheap.
Somebody was calling, but not to him. No, one of the townsmen popped his head out a window. And some guy stepping into the street answered back. As LeFou watched, more and more people showed themselves, each heading in different directions as they began a new day.
Most of them appeared to be going to work. Ugh! The word, even pondered silently, made LeFou shudder. If only there was some other way...oh, well, eat first, then worry about that.
"'Scues me!" Gaston's loud, deep voice boomed as the tall, brawny man in red revered by all as the Town Hero made his way passed the small people, including the short man, that were walking passed. Judging by the bag slung over his shoulder that contained boar and deer, with the fur and antlers sticking out of it and partly covering the quiver of bows that he also had strapped over his shoulder on his back, it was clear that Gaston had already been up well before most people just started their day. No one wakes up early like Gaston! He prided himself on being the first to awake in this small little town, and he was set on keeping that way. The best animals to hunt would wake up early with the rising sun. Like deer! Speaking of which, the man with the one-track mind did not pay attention to the people around him, including the short newcomer, as he was heading to the butcher to make a trade. Gaston could only focus his sights on one thing at a time.
"Hello Tom!" Gaston greeted Tom at the back of La Boucherie with pride in his booming voice upon seeing one of his admiring friends instantly stop plucking feathers from a chicken and attend to him immediately, as it should be. "I'm back with my latest kill!" With that, the large man rudely dropped the bag onto the table, not bothering to ask first where to set it. In fact, Gaston was rewarded for his rude behavior with Tom giving him praises about the quality of meat. "Of course! No one hunts beasts like Gaston!" Gaston boasted, easily feeding his large ego with the praises he received. "Don't forget. Any meat is yours, but the rest is mine!" Trophies and furs were always important to have on his wall and furniture, after all. "And you know where to find me!" With a confident grin and a low laugh, Gaston completed the transaction with some gold that was added into his bag of coins before he waved goodbye to his friend and tromped over around to the front of the La Boucherie, where the lanky meat merchant and his fat wife were selling various meat. Gaston was now interested in something to eat before he would go back out to hunt. Adjacent to the butcher's shop was where egg merchant usually liked to sell his goods.
"These eggs are too expensive!" One of the townspeople complained as he walked away from the man that sold the eggs, staring down at their bowl of 6 eggs with a miserable frown.
Thick raven eyebrows rose over his blue eyes upon glancing down at the egg merchant. Eggs always sounded nice right about now! Hunting worked him into a mighty appetite! "I'll take 5 dozen of your best eggs!" Gaston exclaimed to the egg merchant with a yellow gloved index finger jutted up in the air, a smug grin on his face. He clearly did not even think to care about the fact that it might come off as rubbing it in people's faces that he could buy so many when they so expensive to others. For the wealthy hunter, it was like giving away rocks! He grabbed several gold coins from his bag and dished them out without a care. The egg merchant thanked Gaston jovially, who was the merchant's best customer especially because of the man's egg quantity, and handed him the large bowl of eggs while the egg merchant pushed the cart along with the rest of the eggs right behind Gaston as he headed to his tavern called Le Pub for his hearty breakfast.
Nobody in the growing crowd paid any attention to one undersized Frenchman. But then a basso voice boomed out of somewhere, and every head turned, LeFou's included.
He was a giant of a man, this guy, and he walked like he owned the town. Was he the mayor or something? The way the people smiled when they saw him was not lost on LeFou. They all seemed to love the guy. And why not? If LeFou looked like that, people would probably love him, too.
He caught sight of his own puny reflection in a puddle and sighed, though the growling of his stomach drowned out the sighing.
He had to jostle through the crowd to get to the Boulangerie; nobody took the least notice of his requests to let him pass.
"How much for a sticky bun?" he asked the baker, but the man passed him over to wait on someone else. "I said, how much?" Finally, the baker noticed the stranger at his feet. The price quoted was a bit more than LeFou's pockets could produce. He tried a little friendly negotiation, but the baker threatened to kick him across the street. Sorehead!
LeFou turned to a random passerby, asking for directions to some other eatery. But she passed on as if she didn't hear him. It was the same old story; how do you get people to pay attention to you?
Finally some farmer pointed LeFou to the local tavern. The little Frenchman ventured inside and glanced around. Looked like a pretty nice place. Were they even open for business this early?
Gaston was already inside the tavern at his grand chair throne, laying sideways on his chair with his boots over one of the arm chairs, tossing one of the eggs up in the air and catching it in his mouth before gulping it down. The triplets were nearby of course, watching him catch every single one. That was the point of doing it, of course. To show off! Yet he didn't pay any mind to them more than acknowledging them in the room. He only had his sights set on Belle.
"..See, those ducks show up every day after breakfast," Gaston was finishing his statement that he was boasting about before he tossed another egg into his mouth. The hunter was just noticing that the ducks were making the same kind of flight on the east side of town. "So, I'll be back to hunting again after this!" He grinned confidently, causing the triplet girls to sigh adoringly.
Gaston's attention quickly went to the front of the room when someone came in to see if it was Tom, Dick, or Stanley stopping by from work. Yet it was a new person by the looks of it. He knew everyone that would venture into his tavern, but he didn't recognize him! Instantly, Walter and a few others were quick to gang up on the man for his lack of height, pointing out that they had never seen anyone so short before. Even Gaston chuckled at their jokes before he sat up on his chair with a smile that was mildly interested. "Alright small man, why don't you tell us your name?!" Gaston demanded with his booming voice, wanting to put a name to this unknown man in his tavern.
Well, the place was open, apparently. Anyway there were patrons inside, which LeFou knew because they immediately began to gang up on him. It was typical; he seemed to be made to be picked on. He'd teach 'em a lesson if only he could. Barring that, LeFou figured it would be easier just to exit.
Alright small man, why don't you tell us your name?
It was the big fellah he'd seen outside.
"It's LeFou." Compared to that booming voice, his own sounded like a squeak. "I just wanted to get something to eat..."
Boy, what muscles this guy had! If LeFou only had a body like that, what he wouldn't do to every jerk who ever made fun of him! Wait...if he looked like that, nobody would even dare to mock him!
A thick raven eyebrow rose over one of his blue eyes. "Lefou, hmm?" Gaston remarked as he grabbed his cleft chin with a large hand pensively, not currently registering what the young lad (young lad in the sense that his height made Gaston think he was younger than him) said about wanting to have food here just yet. "I've never heard of any Lefou around here.." He stated the obvious as he narrowed his eyebrows with a smirk, looking to the others in the tavern to see if they heard of him. He was usually the talk of the town aside from Belle. His friends shook their heads in agreement. Good, he didn't have to think on that answer. "Why, you must be new around here!" Gaston finally concluded with a grin, resting his hands on the arms of his antler decorated chair. "You mean to tell me that you came to our little town just to eat food at my tavern?!" Gaston next automatically came to that conclusion without a second thought, naturally always seeing things that would lean to anything that appealed to his ego. His grin broadened as much as his ego did upon hearing such a thing! Newcomers coming from he-cared-not-where just to get to his tavern?! That sounded great!
"Yeah, y'see..." That was as far as he got before the big man cut him off.
Why, you must be new around here!
"That's right, I'm--" Once again Lefou was interrupted before he could finish even one sentence.
You mean to tell me that you came to our little town just to eat food at my tavern?!
"Well, no, not exactly, I mean, um, yes...yes, I did." If he agreed with the owner, if he flattered him a bit, maybe LeFou could get him to overlook a certain lack of funds.
All this time, the diminutive Frenchman noted how the other men deferred to the guy in red. How they looked at him with respect and admiration. Boy, that was for him! If only...but maybe, if he could make friends with the Man in Charge, maybe that would up his own status a little.
Gaston paid no mind to Lefou trying to speak and held no regard for how he was cutting the poor man off mid-sentence all the time. He only cared about what was important to him, which was how flattered he was that this little man left his town just to eat at his tavern! It was much more than anyone else in this town had ventured to do so far to flatter him, that was for certain. His perfect smile grew upon receiving such confirmation from the man. "Now that's what I like to hear!" He exclaimed in his deep, booming voice, slamming a hand on the arm of his decorated chair. More people should venture more out of their towns just to take a gander and eat at his tavern!
"And it's even nicer than I'd heard."
The bulky man's ego swelled at the little man's words. Automatically, Gaston was beginning to like this small man! "Why, of course it is!" His broad grin that spread over his clefted chin was gleaming as he nodded in agreement to the tavern being nicer than he'd heard. Gaston grabbed Lefou's collar and yanked him closer up to his face. "And the food served here is only the best in town!" He boasted with a narrowing of his eyebrows, challenging LeFou to say that it wasn't. He wanted to prove that the food here was just as great. "Why don't you have some eggs with a slice of ham and see for yourself! Maybe you'll grow a few inches!" Gaston dropped Lefou down to the floor and waved his hand for someone to bring the food, not even asking Lefou what he wanted. Really, it was tavern food, but honestly everything was quality under Gaston's tavern, so he believed. As soon as the food was brought over to Lefou, Gaston raised an eyebrow expectantly at Lefou to see whether he liked it. He wanted to hear that it was the best and would be more than disappointed to hear otherwise.
LeFou was happy to see that he'd said the right thing. Maybe now the local toughs would leave him in peace, at least for a few minutes. He had scarcely relaxed his guard, however, when he found himself jerked into the air by his collar. LeFou tensed for the punch in the nose he felt sure was coming.
Why don't you have some eggs with a slice of ham and see for yourself!
"Sh-sure thing. My pleasure." Not only was eating what he'd had in mind from the start, but it was a relief to find that the big fellah wasn't planning to beat him up.
Maybe you'll grow a few inches!
Sigh. That was the kind of mockery he was used to. But the sting was soon obliterated by the aroma of ham and eggs. Oh, boy!
LeFou dug in with a will, pausing only to praise the fare with his mouth full every few bites.
"This is (munch, munch) the best ham and eggs (gobble) I've ever tasted! Maybe the best in all of France!" As if he'd ever seen anything of France beyond a few tiny villages!
Gaston couldn't help but bellow a laugh along with the others who laughed with him after sharing his comment about his height. He remained seated as he observed the small man trying out the food. "Well?!" Gaston asked impatiently with a raise of his thick raven eyebrows as he had his bulky arms crossed over his chest. If thinking were allowed, he'd probably think on how fast he could eat eggs and ham in comparison to this small man. Then again, Gaston felt that he was the fastest eater there was, if he did say so himself! As it was, the hulking man was expecting an answer, but he was also expecting a great answer that the egotistical hunter would naturally delude himself into thinking was the truth. That was what Gaston was used to, and it was how it was always done in this town that shared similar mindsets and values. He wouldn't allow it any other way.
Just like his ego, a broad grin spread across his Gaston's angular countenance upon hearing Lefou say that it was the best eggs he'd ever tasted, even to saying that it was the best in all of France! He liked this man for sharing his truth! "That's right! No one has a best-tasting tavern like Gaston!" Gaston boldly proclaimed from his throne chair, extending his arms out to demonstrate his beloved tavern, including his fine decorations behind him. The tall hunter may have been fooled into giving this traveling man food, but he wasn't thinking about that. Besides, it was a small price to pay for the wealthy hunter who only cared about flattery! "So, Lefou! Tell us what else you've heard about our little town!" He clasped the small man's back with a grin, eager to hear more of this traveler's stories for his entertainment. Normally, he preferred sharing his own stories about when he was a young lad or his hunter stories, but he would certainly welcome flattering in this case!
"You must have at least heard of me in that town of yours!" Gaston added conceitedly, raising his eyebrows over his blue eyes with a grin while he could hear the sigh of the blonde triplets at the corner. Why, if his tavern was popular with this traveling man, then it would be preposterous to hear that he wasn't well known in all the towns!
When you eat fast, it doesn't take long to polish off even a well-filled plate. And LeFou didn't let the grass grow under his feet when it came to free food. He would've licked the plate clean if he hadn't been jerked nearly off his feet before he could perform that pleasant operation.
So, Lefou! Tell us what else you've heard about our little town!
Okay, this was his chance to get in good with the Main Man.
"They say that the town is ruled by a...um...prince. Yeah, a handsome prince with shoulders out to there." LeFou's arm span fell short of the actual, but he gave it his best. "Everybody loves him! All the girls go nuts over him!"
"And he's a taxidermist in his spare time!" he added, noticing all the stuffed heads on the walls.