Two French Legionnaires got separated from their unit and became lost in the desert. After wandering for several days without food and water, they were nearly resigned to the fact that they would soon die from dehydration
Suddenly, as they reached the top of the 634th sand dune, they saw a big, bustling market laid out before them. Naturally, they couldn’t believe their eyes and thought it was a mirage, but as they drew closer, they heard the stallholders’ cries, and they eventually reached the market and realised that it was really there.
The legionnaires rushed up to the first stall, and asked, in a terrible French accent: “Stallholdeur, we ‘ave been travelling in ze desert for many days, and we ‘ave ‘ad no food or water. We shall surely die soon unless you ‘ave some you can sell us – please, do you ‘ave any water?”
The stallholder shook his head: “I’m sorry, French legionnaire type people, but all I have to sell is a load of bowls full of jelly, topped with custard and cream, and lovingly sprinkled with hundreds and thousands.”
The legionnaires look at each other, mildly surprised, and move on to the next stall, where they ask the stallholder, in a poor imitation of an English gentleman: “Mr purveyor of fine foodstuffs and the like, we have been travelling through the desert for days, deprived of the beverages and foodstuffs necessary for survival in this unforgiving geographical area. We shall surely die soon, unless you can sell us some skins of water.”
The stallholder looked at them, and confessed “Gentlemen, tragic as I admit it is, I have none of the ingredients necessary to life for which you ask me … all I have to sell is this large bowl of jelly-soaked sponge cake, topped with custard and cream and sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, with a cherry in the middle at the top – there,” he said, helpfully pointing out the glace cherry. “I cannot help you … ”
The legionnaires looked at each other in desperation, and ran on to the next stall, where they demanded of the stallholder, “Look mate,” (the effort of maintaining accents was, by now, too much) “we need water or we’ll die. We’ve been travelling without water for days and need some now. Do you have any you can sell us? You can name your price!”
The stallholder looked at his curl-ended shoes in shame as he confessed, “Sorry, fellas, all I have to sell you is a bowl of jelly, with custard, cream and hundreds and thousands. I did add some sherry, employing an Olde Englishe Recipe handed down in my family for generations. I cannot help you; I’ll have to condemn you to a long and lingering death through dehydration.”
The legionnaires were really worried by this point, and they went through the market, stall by stall, asking each stallholder whether they had any water they could sell them, and thus save their lives, but each stallholder gave the same reply, all they had to sell was a bowl of jelly with cream, custard and hundreds and thousands. There were small variations, and some offered to sell them individual portions. But water? None.
Dejected and resigned to their grim fate, the legionnaires left the oasis and walked off into the setting sun. As they did so, one turned to the other and said, “That was really odd – a big market in the middle of nowhere, and all selling similar jelly and custard based foodstuffs – but no water to be had.”
The other legionnaire nodded somberly, “Yes, it was a trifle bazaar”