Elixir for Youth

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Dalai Lama said in jest that he won't divulge the secret behind his 'beautiful skin'.

Dalai Lama was delivering a lecture on 'Ancient Indian Knowledge in Modern Times', when a question on the secret of his "beautiful skin" was put to him by the anchor woman "on behalf of all the ladies present" in the packed Gauhati University auditorium here. The Nobel Peace prize winner said that women should take more pro-active role in social life. My first teacher was my mother, not anyone else.

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To see your saved stories, click on link hightlighted in bold. Fill in your details: Will be displayed Will not be displayed Will be displayed. His wealth grew slowly, moderated by the increased wages he had to pay the laborers, but he was able to make some economies in the latter respect as Benedict grew older and stronger.

Unfortunately, Benedict became rather resentful of the fact that he was expected to work harder and harder as each year passed in order to allow his father to spend less on hired labor. While the vintage was brought in, he had to work from dawn till dusk in the winery, and he continued to work long hours while the grapes were trodden and the wine fermented.

By rights, the greater portion of it should be mine. One day, it will all be yours, so the money you do not receive now will benefit you in the future. I would prefer to have the money now, so that I might dress in the manner appropriate to an Aquitanian gentleman, and entertain myself as a gentleman does instead of rising at dawn every day and working long into the night. You are young, and you have a long life ahead of you.

You will have a comfortable home and a life of ease. In addition to filling and loading the barrels, he was gradually entrusted with the delicate operations required to bring the wines to perfection in their vats and prepare them for casking—with the result that the long shifts he worked standing guard over the vats became even more demanding. He often had to work around the clock, sleeping for short periods in the loft above the winery rather than returning to the house where his father was now able to spend more and more of his own time.

You will be able to set your own hours soon enough, and hire men to do your work for you, if that is what you wish. I am certain that he has had a much more interesting life than mine. All travelers are liars.


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It turned out, however, that Gilbert was not dead—although he did seem conspicuously wretched when he suddenly reappeared, at the dead of night, in the winery where Benedict was working late, patiently overseeing a vat of rich red wine that was just approaching the condition in which it would require to be casked. No lesser dose would be fully effective.

After ten years of wandering in the wilderness, have you found nothing worth bringing home but some quack cure for warts or baldness? He opened his pack and produced a small stone flask, which might have held a single gulp of brandy, although it seemed to Benedict more like the kind of vessel in which poison might be kept.

But what it can and will do is to restore my health to the finest pitch of perfection, and make me feel as well as any man can feel, for as long as I may live. Once I have drunk it, I shall no longer age, I shall be full of vigor, and my spirits will be permanently uplifted. The measure I possess is said to be adequate to do the same for one other person.

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What price do you want for your supposedly miraculous potion? The carts and the horses, the barrels and the tools, the suppliers and the customers. I was the one who took the risk. I was the one who traveled far, who staked his life and future on the hazard of discovery. If I drink one dose of the elixir, I shall have every advantage of indefinitely protracted youth save one: an income that would allow me to make the most of it. If I can trade my second dose for the income, I shall have the full extent of my desire. Ergo, dear brother, I offer you the choice: You may have youth without wealth for as long as you may live, or wealth without youth.

It is a fair offer. Can you imagine that I would trade my inheritance for a sip from a flask that might contain anything or nothing at all? For a moment or two, Benedict did not see what Gilbert was getting at—but then he realized that, if he would not sell his inheritance, there was another who might be persuaded to sell it before he was able to receive it: his father.

Having already spent his youth, he will not obtain as much advantage from it as you might, but I dare say that he will settle for the protraction of his current state of being for another sixty or seventy years, and the sense of well-being the elixir will give him in the meantime. I am, in any case, his eldest son; he might take the view, as I do, that the inheritance is rightfully mine in any case.

What I am offering you is the opposite of death: youth and good health, for as long as you might live. What do you have to lose? If you will not pay the price I ask, the winery will be taken from you anyway. You know as well as I do what kind of man our father is. I shall not demand that he deliver all his possessions to me. I only want the business—he can keep his secret savings, to spend in whatever way his newly rejuvenated whims may take him. But I remember how he treated me when I was a child, so I have come to you first, in order that you can have first refusal of my offer.

Am I not generous, brother? Nor was his tone a liar, for he picked up a paddle that he had been using to stir the wine in the vat, and struck out at his brother so forcefully that Gilbert would certainly have been killed had he not stepped sideways to avoid the blow. If the older brother had had a weapon in his pack, he would surely have fetched it out, or had there been something close at hand that would serve as a cudgel, he would surely have improvised—but he had no weapon of his own, and there was nothing nearby that would serve such a purpose.

You will lose your opportunity! Benedict had not been fully persuaded that the flask really held the elixir of youth, but he had been persuaded that his father might be gullible enough to think that it might, and to disinherit his younger son in order to obtain it. So Benedict did, indeed, strike out again—alarming Gilbert sufficiently to make him carry out his threat. Gilbert tipped the flask, and took its entire contents into his mouth. He held the liquid there, as if he thought that Benedict might relent when he saw the threat about to be carried out—but Benedict only took the opportunity to measure his victim for a third blow.

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This time, Gilbert was not quick enough to get out of the way. The only action he had time to perform before he fell dead upon the winery floor was to swallow what he had in his mouth. Benedict immediately regretted what he had done, and became exceedingly anxious to hide the evidence of his crime. It had been dark for some hours and Sylah was not a well-lit town, so it seemed unlikely that anyone who had seen Gilbert approach could have recognized him, even if anyone had been abroad at such a late hour.

Benedict picked up the dead body and weighed it in his arms. Although Gilbert had by no means grown fat while he was on his travels, the corpse was no lightweight. Benedict did not want to risk anyone seeing him with a dead man slung over his shoulder—the Duc de Romanin was well known as a severe judge, very intolerant of all kinds of homicide except those ordered by himself.

The true Elixir of Eternal Youth, very easy, cheap and fast.

He considered the possibility of putting the lid on the barrel and moving it directly to the storeroom, but he knew that anyone who so much as tapped its wooden flank would realize that it had no wine in it. For this reason, he filled it up to the brim with wine from the vat before sealing it.

When Benedict turned the barrel on its side to roll it into the store, he was glad to discover that it was only slightly heavier than it would have been had it contained nothing but wine. He placed the barrel in a dark corner, intending to leave it there until he could find an opportunity to dispose of it permanently.

He rolled out another empty barrel to set beside the vat, so that he could continue his work as if nothing had happened. There will be jousting and a circus, and a great deal of merry-making. Benedict was thunderstruck. This is a great opportunity, you dunderhead. Bring out a score of spigots immediately, and start setting them in the casks so that Corentin and I can test their contents and agree a fair price for each one. Benedict had no alternative but to do as he was told.

He volunteered to help with the tasting, but Frederic told him yet again what a fool he was to think that his naive palate could possibly compare with the practiced expertise of a successful wine merchant and an experienced steward. Benedict knew only too well what a connoisseur his father was, and Corentin also had a great reputation as a wine-taster, so he had to give way on that—but he took what comfort he could from the fact that the two wise men were content to leave the business of rolling out the barrels and hammering in the spigots entirely to him.

One by one, Benedict brought out eight of the barrels laid down in previous years to give their contents every chance to mature, and tapped them all. Nor would the steward agree to let the current crop go untasted, so Benedict had to roll out another seven casks and tap them all. Again Frederic Paschel professed himself very satisfied with his crop, but Corentin was a hard man to convince, and they managed to quaff more than enough wine to keep thirst at bay as the long hot afternoon wore on. When the fifteenth barrel had been tested, Benedict told the steward that there were no more to be tested, but Frederic Paschel had not done as well as he had hoped in the haggling, and protested loudly that he had seen with his own eyes that there was one more barrel of the current vintage left, even though some fool had misplaced it by shoving it into a shadowy corner.

Benedict had no alternative but to roll out the barrel and drive a spigot into its side. Corentin had already begun to frown before he set the cup to his lips, in preparation for the customary battle over price, but as soon as he took a sip from the cup his expression changed. He had earlier been very scrupulous about spitting out at least half of the wine he had tasted, lest the expertise of his palate be confused by intoxication, but he swallowed this mouthful entire, and followed it with another that was considerably more generous.

Then he looked down with evident disappointment into his empty cup. Frederic was a trifle disappointed, obviously regretting the loss of an opportunity to taste such a wonder, but he was a man of business, and he accepted the offer gracefully.

Scientists claim that by 2012 they will have developed drugs that delay the ageing process

Benedict opened his mouth to protest, but realized that he had no possible grounds for so doing. I do hope that you have not been making a habit of over-filling the barrels. I would be very grateful, though, if you would pay me the wages due to me for laboring these last ten years in the winery. Frederic Paschel was obviously astonished by this request, because he became quite purple as his temper rose. Every farthing that the winery has earned these last ten years has been reinvested in the business for the benefit of your inheritance.

Everything I have done in my entire life I have done for you. It seems to me that everything I have done in my entire life I have done for you. While I have toiled by day, you have been idle. While I have labored by night, you have slept in your comfortable bed. And as for all your talk of reinvestment. I do not ask for all of it, but I do want my fair share. I meant you , of course. Benedict was slightly taken aback by this change of attitude, but he knew that he could not give in. He dared not wait in Sylah for one more day. Indeed, he had already waited longer than he should, for he was spared the necessity of answering his father by a loud hammering on the door.

I saw the barrel loaded myself, and was only now admonishing my son for overfilling it. If it was short when it arrived at the castle, that rascal of a steward must have piped half of it away for his own use. The soldiers were, however, merely following orders; their sergeant assured the merchant that he could lay his counter-accusations before Lord de Romanin. So Benedict and his father were put in irons and taken to the Chateau.

When they arrived, the merchant and his son were immediately taken to Duc Meldred, who was in his banqueting hall with his son, Sir Blaise, and his steward Corentin. The barrel was set beside the head of the table. The prisoners were thrust down on to their knees. When my loyal steward told me what a wonder he had found, I could not wait until the feast; I had to test it for myself. Having found it every bit as delightful as he promised, I offered a cup to my son, and then invited the Comte de Thyresse, the father of my future daughter-in-law to sample it.

Elixir of life

We had a second round, and then a third. Plainly, there is something else in this barrel as well as wine: something solid, which has shifted to block the spigot. Now, what do you suppose that might be? Frederic Paschel looked at his son then, with accusing eyes. Remove the lid, by all means. Take a look for yourself, my Lord. At least I have filled my last barrel for this old skinflint. Lord de Romanin looked at Benedict curiously, and then instructed his steward to hand over the claw hammer he had thoughtfully brought to the meeting.

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  8. Benedict shrugged his shoulders and accepted the instrument. It only took him a minute to pull out the staples securing the lid. When he thrust the lid aside, the Duc de Romanin and Sir Blaise both peered in, very curiously. Perhaps you can explain, Master Paschel, how the vintage turned out so well, given that the pickling of a corpse would normally be expected to spoil it?

    Frederic Paschel could only look back at his lord and master in frank amazement—but Benedict was quick to take his opportunity. It will be of great benefit to you if you keep on drinking it, provided that you do not share it too generously—but only I have the secret of making it, so you will need to look after me well. But the body has virtue enough to improve several more barrelfuls of wine—perhaps many more, if it is supervised with the proper skill.

    You might try, I suppose, to stretch the crop yourself. You would do better to put your trust in me.

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    Sir Blaise seemed a trifle offended by this slur against his competence, but Lord de Romanin was quick to intervene. No dead man was ever been found inside any barrel loaded by me. Justice insists that murderers are hanged, and sorcerers burned. Wine is only wine, but crime demands reparation. But you have drunk from that barrel, have you not? Is it only wine, do you think, or the veritable elixir of youth? Duc Meldred de Romanin nodded his noble head thoughtfully. While attention had been diverted from him the curious merchant had climbed discreetly to his feet and tiptoed to the barrel, then leaned over to see what was inside it for himself.

    Benedict had been thinking furiously, and took his opportunity without delay. How could you possibly be in any danger, given that your hearts are absolutely pure? Men of your kind, I feel perfectly sure, could drink barrel after barrel of the elixir without incurring the slightest stain on your souls. But if you would rather not. Your father is obviously too old, but he seems to have taught you everything he knows, and you have evidently done a little studying on your own account.

    Would you be prepared to accept such a position, if it were offered? I will gladly take the job. He turned to his steward. This is a winery. There was no guarantee that the next cupful drawn from the spigot would be as good as the last, and no way to calculate how many more cupfuls would follow in its train if it were.

    Dalai Lama said in jest that he won't divulge the secret behind his 'beautiful skin'.

    He would have to rely on trial and error to discover the optimum rate of improvement, and the one thing of which he could be certain was that the effect would not last forever. Eventually, the elixir would run out and the wine would cease to derive any further benefit from the body. By that time, Meldred de Romanin and his son might have supped enough to preserve themselves indefinitely—although the fact that Corentin and the Comte de Thyresse had each taken a little, and given that Benedict would have to taste future barrels to judge their readiness, might ensure that none of them would gain the full benefit of the elixir.

    Benedict was not certain what difference, if any, that would make to his own situation. Given that Gilbert had only had the evidence of hearsay to advise him as to the properties of his treasure, Benedict could not be absolutely certain that there had been exactly enough elixir in the flask to preserve two men against the effects of aging for an indefinite period.

    There might have been less, or more.

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