I had returned with Mary and Abu from the tour of the town. Roger was whittling on stick of yew when the Fair Masters sent a messenger round to Stephen’s booth with a summons, demanding him to come to the Pie Powder Court by ten that morning. The Pie Powder Court! Stephen was not amused. What after all that we had gone through, had Roger done to deserve the wrath of the Fair Masters?
Well as it turned out, he explained, the previous day he had finally run across Theuderic. Who had been lunching in the town of Amiens, feasting, actually with a group of young students, with whom he seemed quite well acquainted. They had a table at a tavern on one of the canals- Roger had just been happening past, on his way to the Inn Sans Poser de Questions, where he said he had gone to fetch his wine flask, and hopefully fill it full of something good and strong. When he spotted Theuderic, sprawled wide at a bench upon the table, and Theuderic saw him, Theuderic had leaped up, eyes wide, and run off down the side of the canal, waving a chicken leg, of which he ate huge chunks as he fled. Roger, not knowing exactly why Theuderic should flee, in curiosity, set out briskly to mach his pace, and eventually overcame him. The entire matter was some misunderstanding, said Theuderic. Roger, however, was in no mind to hear excuses, he wanted to know why Theuderic had done none of the things which he had promised to do when we had met him on the road outside Valliquerville. He had not acted as our translator, he had done nothing to show Stephen nor himself anything of Amiens, and indeed, as soon as we had arrived he had taken fly and had not been seen but only to fill himself with wine and guzzle on at Roger’s expense.
Theuderic, said Roger to his face, was no more than a cozzener, who had used good Stephen as a means of providing unto himself new boots and clothing, and if there was any honor in him as a man at all, he would stand and deliver as to both Stephen and himself as to the services he had promised to render. At which time, Theuderic spat a piece of chicken leg at Roger, then followed with throwing the bone, and this made Roger thrice more sore of mind. So when Theuderic now fled for a second time, he ran toward the fair, and this time, Roger was quite at a loss to catch up. Theuderic had made his way into the fair rather quickly, and when Roger finally caught a glimpse of the tail of his new bright tunic skirting the corner of one of the aisles of stalls, he marshaled up his strength and took off at a run, yet again. When he finally came upon Theuderic in a spot where he could not get away, Theuderic had backed into a stall full of melons and knocked the entire table of melons off into the street, what is more, when Roger gave him a box on the cheek, he fell right back on top of six melons, worth, in the grocer’s complaint now being read out by the Fair Masters’ messenger, some twelve deniers, or, in plain English, three pence and a half. And so, both were to be called to account for their disturbance of the general good peace of the Fair. Theuderic, in the custody of the Masters, and Roger, who was to show himself, or risk banishment from the Fair, for so long as he should live, for causing this trouble.
Roger, rightly, was quite upset with this prospect, for it would then mean that at all future fairs, Stephen should need to make business without him, and for this, Stephen felt Roger was actually indispensible now. I volunteered to go with Roger, in case he should need witness to his veracity and good nature, in order that Stephen might stay and try to sell more of what goods we had left. Stephen agreed, so, taking my leave of Mary, Panoptes, Abu, and Stephen, I went with Roger to the booth of the Fair Masters, where Pie Powder Court was in session.
So then to the Pie Powder Court we were, I following Roger on his way. There, in the presence of the same men with whom Stephen had made his agreements for the booth space , he bowed before them. There were the butcher, Monsieur Pourquoi, the baker, Monsieur Comment-se-Fait, and the candle maker, Monsieur Pascomme. And over in a corner, guarded by a stout man at arms, was the beggarman Theuderic.
“Roger of Wirral, your lords, and I am am here to answer what case you may have against me.”
The butcher was the first to speak.
“Monsieur Wirral, it has been alleged by this young man here to my left that you had been the cause of the disruption for which he is himself at present in our custody. He states that you shoved him in such a fashion that it caused him to fall over the table of an aggrieved stall-holder- Monsieur Leppard, over to the right there.”
The unsmiling Leppard nodded, and the stern butcher continued.
“Monsieur Wirral, we must ask of you your defense in these matters. For this is a place, this fair, where behavior of an uncouth and boisterous manner is neither approved, nor sanctioned. Please give us your reasons why you so accosted this lad.”
“Give you reasons? Well, let me tell of how we met this “lad” (as you term him) although he is well past an age of innocence. My master, Stephen Westchester, and my friend here beside me, Master Julian the minstrel, as well as his wife Mary, have come to Amiens again, as is the custom of Stephen and I each year to make trade in the marketplace of our goods from England. Primarily wool and fulled wool cloth, but this year, we have brought along the woodwork of Julian’s mistress’s father, some number of wooden chests and trunks.
“This so called “lad”, who gave us the name of Theuderic, we met on the road on our way here. He cozzened us with a story of his want, his need, a fair tale of marital estrangement, and his role as a princely scholar in the court of someone or another, his name doth escape me. We fed him from our meager stocks and we allowed him to camp with us. Having pity upon him, my master Stephen brought him to a town when he could and spent some number of shillings in giving him shoes, and the clothing you see him in, for what he had been garbed in at the day we met him was rank, ragged, and only fit for the rubbish heap. And this my master did out of only a Christian sense of charity, that this man might have some allowance of self-respect again, when he made his way to Amiens, so as he has.”
“As a way of returning my master’s favor, he promised us that when we arrived at Amiens, he might serve as a translator to us, for none of us in our company at this time speak your French at a high level that might gain us a favor by the market. And this we expected of him, that he might remain with us through the time of the Fair, and come about with us as we made our trades with other merchants. But so soon as we encamped here at Amiens he made some escape, he made himself unknown to us for over the period of a day, and when we found him again, he but tarried along with us, and drank himself drunk and ate upon my own coin, and then disappeared yet again, while we searched all about the town for him, in fact, I did for another two days, until the day of the incident.
“But he was no place for me to find. It was as if he had left like smoke, or a willo’wisp, and when finally I spotted him, just as it happened, a matter of chance, he was feasting at table at one of your canalside establishments, and when he saw me he bolted, for such was his sense of guilt at not having repaid as he had promised, the favors we had expected of him.”
"He bolted, and ran toward the fair, and it was hard to keep up with him, but once I found him, I demanded him give back the favor. Such I felt the need to make this remembered in his feeble brain by way of force. If I inconvenienced the master of the melon-table, then it be my duty to apologize, dear kind sirs, but this rattling-mumper, this high-padded foot-pad, this abram-man, who goeth by the name of Theuderic, has left himself in a debt of deed which doth not match his word. And so it is, that I am here to answer for myself and my actions. Whatever it might be he has to say of any of it.”
The candle maker was the first of the Pie Powder Judges to speak.
“Well, you have explained your side of this, I feel at length, and it doth seem, to me, at least, that there was some expectation of duty owed by the lad, which was neither met, and that there had also been some favor granted to him, of which he came to take advantage.”
“Monsieur Theuderic is not unknown to us here in Amiens. Indeed, he has been in trouble with us before, at other times, at earlier Fairs. He has been convicted once of petty thievery, for which he was not given a full penalty of swinging at the gibbet, but was forewarned that if further trouble ensued in his wake that he would be forbidden any return to the town, or to the Fair. And it seems to me that there is some honor in the manner in which you speak and truth in the tale as you have spoken. I give my opinion. Now, for that of my fellows.”
The baker Pascomme now spoke. Seeming to be the one who might have the most reason, somehow, to take the word of the knave over that of Roger, he gave voice to what had been on his own mind.
“I for one, must disagree, even if I be the only voice to defend the poor lad. In my earlier dealing with him, I took note of the fact, at least which he told me, of his unfortunate condition at marriage, and that there were other circumstances which had set him on his way, of being someone who begs favors of strangers at roads. But even so if this be his manner of getting a living, he was not the one who initiated the punching and shoving match. In fact, it was you, Squire Roger, who did so, whether or not you had what you feel was cause, or whether or not this man had irritated you past the point of your temper. I must vote in his favor.”
And now the butcher, Pourquoi, again, as the head of the Fair Masters, cast the deciding judgment.
“It seems to me that there was, as my friend Comme-se-Fait will yet deny, due cause and reason for the man at hand to stand in anger against the young man. For he tells us that this young man had come upon him on the highway, gained favor by way of his manner of begging, and had actually improved his estate much by having the condition of his old clothing set aside, and garbed himself better in the manner of a gentleman. And my own judgment shall be with Roger. That makes two over one. We must now deliberate the sentence we must pass on each of you.”
Roger and I stood waiting, as the butcher, baker, and candle maker all conferred, quite much in whispered French, much that we could not understand, nor even hear, should we have been able to. At length, they seemed agreed. The butcher spoke again.
“Squire Roger, our judgment upon you is thus. You shall leave Amiens at the end of this fair, and should you ever return thusly to Amiens Fair, and create disturbance as causes loss of goods, as there was to Monsieur Leppard, you shall be thenceforth banished from ever returning. We are ordering you ammerced to restitute his estate in the manner of the loss of his fine fresh melons by three sous.”
“And as for Theuderic of Porcieux, who has been the cause of much mischief for us in the past, we are instituting this judgment—that he forthwith shall leave our presence this good city and our joyful Fair, and be banished from the precinct of both, forever more, under penalty of forfeiture of his liberty. We order Theuderic to leave, and go at speed at once, in whichever direction of the roads he chooses, but we will not countenance his manner of confidencing those who come to Fair with legitimate purpose, nor set them as is, against their own profit. If we learn of more such instances in the province of Picardy, then he shall be answerable to the Duke and the courts of the Duke’s justice. Lord have mercy upon you. Depart hence!”
He pounded his fist upon their table, which caused all the inkpots and papers to lift from their gravity, and Theuderic, frowning, but giving a final gesture of defiance in Roger's direction, was set free by the man at arms, and began his new odyssey. He seemed headed south, but wherever it was he was going, Roger and I would not give heed to follow. Roger pulled from his purse the coins which would pay back Monsieur Leppard, and the same, smiled, nodded, and shook hands with Roger. The judges all smiled at Roger, as well. There was a final word, from the baker.
“Monsieur Wirral, we would be delighted for you and your master Stephen to join us at table this evening. Will you come? And bring your friend there, with the lute.”
Roger took it as an offer not to be refused, as it was as well for me. So that was how the day would turn out? Not bad! And I had been expecting worse.
The rest of our afternoon passed in a more or less languid manner. We had done with selling Robert’s chests, Stephen had sold the last of his wool sacks and was out and about the fair, gathering more bags of spice, and dickering with vintners for casks of wine. Abu and I played like demons as we sat in the shade of the canopy. Some people walking the fair gathered nearby, as Roger began stacking what he could into easily transferred piles for the morning, as that coming day we would—like all the rest- be striking the stall and journeying our way back to England. When Stephen returned, he was carrying two large wine kegs on his shoulders, and asked for Roger’s help.
“I have found a great man here who has sold to me some excellent vintage, Roger. This we must get to Anselm! I know he will be pleased.”
“From what portion of the land do these come?”
“They are from Burgundy. There is rather a glut of them! The man I bought them from gave me each for two shillings and a half. There are three more waiting back there for us to pick up.”
Smiling, at Abu, I begged his leave, and went with Roger and Stephen to this wine merchant, that each of us should carry a cask apiece, and that Stephen need not burden himself so, for he was quite out of breath when he had returned.
The wine man’s name was Refranc and indeed, he did hail from Burgundy.
“The wine is aged one year. I have my people working now on ze new vintage. But fairst I had to clear our stores, so, you zee, and you are so good to be coming, to get these. I shuddair I zhould return with unsold barrels!”
“There will be no need for that,” replied Stephen. “We come every year. Hopefully, we will see you next year, and then we might taste what you have made of this one!”
“Oui, yessair, it should be right. Vair in England ees my wine goink?”
“To a baron who lives in Cornwall.”
“Vell! Ask heem vut he tinks of eet! Refranc of Bairgundy vill ever be gratefool he has taken zem off my hands!”
We staggered back to the stall and set the next three barrels beside the other two. Abu set down his lute and scrutinized them.
“Wine! And so it is, the French will never do without...”
“Neither can a Cornish geentlman!” said Roger.
“We’ll not tap these, but we’ll buy others if we need, on the way back,” said Stephen.
“I should not see why you even ought to, since Anselm is the one who will be brokered to.”
I was happy, however, to know that I was the one who had put Anselm and Stephen together. It was turning out their relationship could be of good service to both of them.
Stephen tapped one of the casks for a flagon full of the wine.
“I must to see the Fair Masters. Remember, I did promise them something ‘ere we left the fair!”
And Stephen was gone for the better part of an hour, but when he returned, he had a smile on his face. His gift had been accepted, he said, and the Masters had queried him for some time after, which explained how long he had been.
Then it was our time to return, when sun had gone behind the horizon, and light had begun to fade. Mary and I walking together with Panoptes on his long cord, and Abu beside us. All of us were headed for the Inn, and there, we would meet another couple who had come to Amiens to see the Fair.
These two were named Hanno and Lul, and they were from Holland to the East. They were not minstrels nor merchants, but only travelers on an errand they would not speak of. Hanno, the man, was not a lot older than I, and Lul, the woman, was a bit older than he. They were both dressed in tunics and hose, he had a cloak with a cowl of fox fur, and she wore long gloves which were woolen, but colored a bright green, and wore stockings which were red on one leg, blue on the other. They would not even tell us their business in Holland, but it was clear that they had money in their purses and time enough to journey afield from their parish.
Hanno was curious about us, just as much as I was them. But his lack of openness encouraged the same with me. He could tell I was a minstrel, by Luisa of course, but of our journey I could say little more than “I am accompanying our merchant friends. We have just married, and so, this is our honeymoon, so you must see.”
He said he did see, and then asked about the dog.
“He is a new addition to our party. His name is Panoptes. He was given to us by a rug merchant from Bruges.”
“Ah, Bruges. And your wife? What is her line?”
“I am a poppet mistress, good sir, and also, an alewife. Though as yet, my husband has but tasted my delightful ale only in my mother’s home. When I return, I shall make him some ale which shall throw off his socks...” she smiled.
I bought them a tankard each of hippocras and all of us made do with that as the evening came on, and the taverner lit the fire and built it up tall, for the air outside had begun to go chill.
“Now, Julian, I should ask, you came to France from Penzance, as you said. But are you familiar with London at all?”
“I am. I was at London last year, but, twice, and neither time, I should hope to remember much. I played in the streets, I met a monk in a monastery, I was hauled to court and called to return with six men to speak of my good character. London— not so much my favorite place, no.”
“Well, in London town, I have an uncle. If you are ever there, then, I shall give you his address, and you could tell him that Hanno and Lul are wishing him luck on his venture...”
“And what is his line?”
“He is charged with shipbuilding, under the King.”
I had the thought that I could not care less that all of Henry’s ships sank to the bottom of Neptune’s sea, but wisely held my tongue. I said that, were it something I was inclined to, perhaps I would, but I had not the desire to ever return to London again, even if I thought it polite not to say so.
Abu joined us, and soon, motioned to me that we should play for a while, and see if we could not earn ourselves more coin by trying. And we spent half of an hour playing to the patrons of the Inn. Again, the innkeeper was cirsumspect and offered us not even a farthing, but we did garner a handful of deniers from several very merry folk, who seemed quite pleased that the fair would end on the morrow, and they could have Amiens back to themselves again. Abu and I split the takings in half, and we were both satisfied that at least together we made a noise pleasing to people as well as to his Allah.
Mary and I took to bed after finishing the hippocras, and after Roger and Stephen both had retired. Tomorrow would be a long day, yet if we knew how frustrating it would turn out to be, perhaps none of us would have felt much like stirring from our beds in the morning. But we did, and eagerly at that.
So it was, the last day of the Amiens Fair, that we never saw any morning sun. Nor did we, really, all of that day. For there were dark and thickening clouds above the town and the fairgrounds, as those merchants from beyond Picardy, and out of France, all set about to strike their tents and make away.
Stephen and Roger were no different. The better portion of the goods we had brought, they had all sold. And we had some new things which now needed to be loaded on the cart, and there was no such thing as “returning empty-handed”- certainly not where Stephen and Roger were concerned. And we were taking our little dog back with us and our new friend Abu, who would at least accompany us to Harfleur.
We had eaten a rather hasty breakfast at “The Inn of No Questions Asked” while we awaited Roger to emerge from his rooms. It was just a porridge, sloshed down with some ale, but Stephen was considering the rest of our day, and so bought ale and cheese from Launcelot the innkeeper. Then Roger and I fetched the horses, and we all of us rode Magdalene and them out to the stall where the goods still were.
Stephen looked up at the sky.
“I fear rain, and soon, Julian. Let us put up that canopy from Albertus, let’s get it up on the cart, and start loading stuff in.”
This, he and I did, as Mary waited nearby with Panoptes, and as Abu came soon after, walking out from the town.
“I just wanted a last look at the canals!” he said. “There are few such things like it in Granada.”
“I thought you said there were no such places such as your Alhambra palace, north of Granada.” I was teasing him.
“There are new places for all of us everywhere we all go. If we keep our minds inside our little boxes how else shall we learn of the world?” It was a fair question. That was the same idea which had brought me now to Amiens.
When we had made the cart as best we could into something which would both carry the goods, and keep our passengers safely dry, we tightened the sail down about the cart posts, and hitched up the horses, who had been grazing on the little bits of grass which grew up from where the long bots of cloth, and Belgian rugs, had lain. And then!
And then the sky broke open, and raindrops the size of lemondrop candy began falling, and there was a crack of thunder, sounding quite close, after a shocking bolt of lightning stuck down upon one of the spires of Amiens cathedral, some distance back off from us in the town. The rain began to fall in a spattering manner, and those who had not already made their wares ready, as we had, were caught in the downpour, and rushed even harder to make haste.
“I am afraid we are going to have a rather tough slog to get out of here,” said Roger. “In no time the roads will be full of mud, and there will be many upon them, as well, and the mud will soon be churned up like butter, and the roads... well, we are in for a miserable day.”
“Yes, Roger, I would say so. We can only hope that this rain will not last our entire day, although it is certain that the mud will.”
I gave Mary Luisa to care for, and as she and Abu rode along in the back of the cart, the little dog Panoptes could range about. We had given him a bowl of our own porridge, but from now, he would have to eat what oats we took from the horses for him. He yipped and barked at the people on the fairgrounds rushing all about us, as the rain continued to fall, and as the vast field of tents and booths and stalls, banners and pennons and flags of different natures, slowly became less and less dense, and more and more appeared like the leavings of some great army.
Stephen got us underway, but the road to the main road back to Harfleur had already been churned to buttermilk. A deep, dark blackish brown buttermilk, which while it did not hold our cartwheels fast, did very little to ease the manner, nor the time which it took even to travel so far. Magdalene’s hooves sunk to their tops in it, and the other two horses were not doing any better, at hauling the cart.
The main road itself was clogged with merchants headed west. While we had arrived in town as one cart on a vast and near empty highway, now we were but just one more straggling wagon making our way with so many others. There were many shouts and curses against the rain from those ahead of us, and just as many curses against the condition of the road and the mud.
I tried to be philosophical in this. Some things in life just cannot be planned for, and considerations must always be made against even all of the best planning. At least, we had been lucky for Albertus to have given u that old sail! For had we had it not, all the cloth and all the carpet, and all the packaged spice which had been gathered for Anselm, and even my lute! Everything would have been sodden and wet and possibly much could even have rotted before we even got back to Harfleur and Barcelona raised her sail for Penzance again!
The rain, however, as it always must, did lift, but it was the hour of Nones before it had tapered away completely, and even yet, there was no real sun to calm the spirits. So onward. We made but twelve miles on this first day of our return, and again, we camped in the open, away from any town, and built ourselves a fire, and roasted up some ham, which Abu swore off, for his religion forbade it. I shared a chunk of it with Panoptes, which I broke into smaller puppy-sized bits, and he liked my fingers afterword. He was a greedy little guy! Magdalene and the cart horses Nibs and Plodder we tied to trees, and they had fair shelter, and Roger fetched buckets of water from a nearby stream for all of them to have drink.
Now that we were back out on the highway, and we had no “help” from the likes of Theuderic (not that he had been much, anyway) we were now cast up in a foreign land with nobody to speak their language, if we should need assistance. So what little we might do would have to be relied either upon gesture, or hoping the person we spoke to could understand our own tongue.
I made up my mind that as we traveled with Abu toward Harfleur I would try to pass along some of that idea with which Porcull had first so kindled in me, that there is a music in every place, a special music which belongs to that place and that place alone.
“Abu, look over there.” I pointed as I rode, to a grove of ancient oaks which stood close to a hedgerow, yet, all by itself with a plowman’s furrows splitting in two and then returning at the other side. “There, Abu, is a place with music, its own music. That is a good example.”
Abu craned his neck out the back of the wagon to see for himself.
“Yes, it is certainly a place which has some character.”
“Let’s make this a game, alright? When I see something I feel is pertinent I shall point it out to you. And if you happen to see something you feel describes what I have said to you then you point out to me what I could have missed. In this way we can help to kill the hours of our journey, for I am sure we are yet days away.”
“Yes, I shall look for this.”
And so we were quite silent for a bout an hour, whether or not I knew that Abu was seriously looking at the landscape or not, I could not tell, until we came to a river crossing, and he was suddenly up, about, excited.
“This is definitely a place with such a musical character, Julian!”
The place, actually, was a bridge, where some century in the past, a great battle had actually been fought. The music of the place, I felt, was very drear, and full of sorrow. But Abu was so convinced of the nature of the spot, I chose not to make any argument. Instead, I began to speak of what I felt such music really spoke to— the places I felt had a deep human connection, with harmony in nature, not disharmony and strife between people. He was silent a ways longer, but then, he piped up again as we came to the town of Quevauvillers, and here, he pointed out a stone circle which had been laid long in the past by primal Celts. This indeed was one such a spot! Because the stones themselves confirmed it, but it was a hollow between two short slopes within which flowed a small stream, protected from the winds by rowan trees and what must have been a track made by hundreds of dancing feet over a number of centuries- a circle within a circle!
Stephen, who up to this point had been holding conversation with Roger, noticed the stone circle also. He pulled the wagon aside from the road, and all of us walked up to the place. Abu and I had our lutes out, so, of course, we decided then and there to try to summon our muses and also summon forth some of the magic which the elders of our race had recognized when they built the place.
Abu and I played for what seemed an hour or more, and then Stephen decided he would no longer wish to fight the mud. So again, we built ourselves a fire, we toasted more ham, and ate it with bread and wine, and Mary gave bits of her portion to the dog, while we grazed all the horses. In the night by the roadside there were few other passersby, for now, most of those who were continuing on the road toward Harfleur had passed us up, and all there was was the strange wind blowing in from the Channel, and a thought that we had chosen this spot well, for the spirits about us seemed friendlier than they ever had at any of the places we knew from Cheshire, Shropshire, Devon, or Cornwall. In fact, the feelings one got here were none at all like death, or foreboding gloom, or hallowed grief, but what I heard the French call “joie-de-vivre.” Indeed, it was with some refreshment that Mary and I pulled ourselves out from beneath the blankets, and all of us ate from a huge pot of boiled eggs (courtesy of Roger, who had made it his resolution to rise earlier than he was used to, whenever he could, so that Stephen might have less mind to chastise his late night revels) and oats. All was fine. The sun was rising as we set the horses back to their task of plodding our way west, and Abu and I began to play again our little game of “seek the music in the landscape.”
We were now nearly thirty miles from Harfleur, and while the rain had gone, an the mud had dried, it was sure thing that it would return. We could only hope to reach Harfleur before the weather again turned.
Trees stood bare, or with withered and yellowed leaves. Sheep we passed in the meadows turned their heads, and the gentle plains were broken only by the bocage, an occasional stream, and a small village. We were well set though for food, and there was no reason to stop, nor did Roger feel any need we should pause. Getting home was now all that was on their minds— Stephen and Roger, and Mary too. But Abu and I whiled away our hours, either by playing lute to each other— he as he sat in the cart, and I as I rode Magdalene, who was easily ridden without resort to the bridle, which reins I placed round the saddle horn, just to be sure. If it came a point that I needed to regain her control, I only had to swing the lute back over my shoulder.
Abu and I passed the time in this way, and when there was something of particular interest, we would trade off fast passages of arpeggio and glissando in turn. This had the effect, though, of exciting the little dog, who being not quite of size enough to run beside us and the cart, was given to riding with his paws on the cart’s edge, and barking excitedly, then hopping back down and snuffling at Mary. When we broke for our lunch, again, we were by a stream, again I went fishing. This was actually a bit of fun, because the lucy pikes were not by any means the only fish I might catch. As this day I caught some small brooky trouts and a perch. I gave the perch to Abu, being a favor, and the rest the four of us English shared out together, along with hunks of cheese, bread, and what was the remains of a flagon of wine. All felt good. Birds were talking in the trees beside us, and there were hares, wild hares, a pair of braces, even, all leaping about in the land just past the stream while I fished. There were other travelers passing on the road, but none stopped, leaving us in our own little realm.
On the whole I felt I had had a very interesting honeymoon. Not every Cheshireman gets to go so far from his land as I had, in a short period of three years, and now we were coming back to Penzance a little bit (but not by much) richer than we had left, and I had all the hope in the world that things would indeed be fortunate for us once I was back. Because an idea was coming to me.
I could barely but fathom how it came to me. Perhaps because so much of our journey, and of my own life in England, had been shaped by the tavern and the inn, perhaps because it seemed like something I could naturally grow to, and something I would prefer to do rather than walk the roads with Mary, dragging poppetsack and lute from place to place, but I thought then, perhaps it would be an interesting thing to do, to own and run a small tavern, and to profit by that, and make of it my provenance.The idea planted itself there, then, on the roads outside Harfleur, should anyone ask how such a daft notion could have come to me. But like they say about my being a fool in love, so I am like that innocent fool on the card, ever stepping so lightly about the edge of a cliff.
But as it turned out, besides the abominable mud and the loss of what must have been a full day’s speed in its favor, in a week’s time we came back to Harfleur without having need to speak to a single Frenchman. This made it a welcome thing when we appeared in the town, and the cart rolled up to the Ogre, and we had the “pleasure” of taking our leave with Luciole, the Ogre of the Cove of the Ogre, once again.