Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I took Magdalene and Panoptes one afternoon on a ride to see Clarence. Clarence was in the midst of creating more of his wizard string instruments, but I managed to lend him a hand with clamp and with the finishing (varnishing) of a number of them that afternoon, so he did not mind the company. When we had finished he made a big pot of mulled wine, extra spicy with cinnamon and with thyme springs, and this we supped on at the end of his hours. The Plan had taken form, and the Inn had at least been mostly constructed, on this day, and I mentioned that while we hoped we might open the tavern on May Day, and hope to catch more of the townspeople asporting, that Mary and I would be returning to Chester ourselves in the early summer, I to help the manor with their haying, and she (as well as myself) to see her mother and Davis, and to check on everyone. Then, I would have nobody to run the show. But Clarence volunteered himself, saying he would be honored at any time to take over in my absence, and that all would continue on fair and square. That there were yet things I must arrange— such as, where I should gather the beef, the hams, the chickens which might make our first few pots of dinners, as well as, to lay in a pantry full of roots, that there be other dishes to serve beside those, was something I had to take up yet with the costermen of Penzance.
Clarence calmed me down, saying that every enterprise had a manner of investments it needed to make. His own shop always had the need of more wood, or of catguts for strings, or of sheephides for drumheads. That I realized, would be something I would try to take up soon. The sixty pounds which I had been loaned by Anselm was now fortyfive, and it had taken but twelve pounds for me to feed and pay all my carpenters and roofers. Clarence had brought me beams with which to create the horse pen, but I had as yet to take up the effort. It would be my next big project, however.
Clarence told me that there would be no point in this venture should I not be able to make gains, a little each day, toward overcoming what had first been invested. And that there should be some manner of a crier to go about Penzance for that first week, who might make it known that the Fallen Lady, just a jaunt out of town, along Whychoome Road, was open for business. That crier, he said, ought be some lad of the town, for if I were to take it up myself, how would that take me from the matters I must attend at hand? Clarence had someone in mind, thankfully. That someone actually sat beside us on this day.
This was his newly pledged prentice, Wilmot. Wilmot had come from a family of tin men, but was not a wealthy sort. Nay, his father had been a miner, and so, should he as well, yet, he had taken sickly at one point, and had trouble in breathing, and mine dust could have finished him off, and so his father relented.
Wilmot had the urge to make music, but more, he wanted to make instruments, and as Clarence was the master at that for miles and miles about, he came to Clarence and offered himself. This, of course, Clarence accepted, for as he were some ten or fifteen years my elder, he was getting on, and had no children, so there had been no one to take that on at hand. This came as a blessing to Clarence, and in the weeks before I came on this visit, between the Christmas feast of Anselm and the time, he had set about teaching Wilmot all he should know about making the portions, setting the wood, mixing glues, creating bracings and struts, and all the like. Wilmot had proven a quick study. Clarence said that this current crop of instruments were nearly done, and so, Wilmot could be at leave, and would have ample time to go to town and cry for the Fallen Lady.
Surprisingly, he also agreed to this for me, and told me that he wished only a penny a day to provide this, and this was no great sum, so I agreed, I would pay him. Later too, if things were not so busy with Clarence, he might come to the tavern and help by washing plate, sweeping the ale room, and helping clear the guest’s messes at the end of the evenings.
This too, he said would be quite fine with him, if but for the same price, a penny a day, and he seemed so anxious and agreeable to be helpful, I would have been loss of my senses to refuse such a willing lad. And he was not, after all, less close to me in age than I was to Clarence. He was about fourteen, and was lanky and tall and blond of hair, with a rather defiant cast to his eye, which I am sure might either gain him respect or trouble wherever he may wander.
That was one way I solved my future problem, of taking leave of the tavern just when I had to mind it being opened, and getting going. We planned to be gone but two fortnights in any case, returning before the manor harvest, as Stephen would be making his way down for the next Amiens trip, again, soon after that.
Speaking of Stephen! He came to Penzance on a merchant’s errand two weeks before May Day himself, bringing news of the lands at Cheshire, of the manor, and even, thankfully for us both, of Mary’s father, my father, and brother Simon.
The purpose of his merchant’s errand was to visit the fullers of Bristol and Penzance, deliver to them his spring wool, collect from them what he might of cloth taken in trade back to Chester, and treat with Anselm for more business in Amiens spice come September. Roger was not with him, he traveled alone, but he did have a great deal to tell me. He arrived in the middle of an afternoon when we were spreading barley out to dry and Mary let me leave off that I should mind that knock on the door.
Stephen had ridden Nibs down from Chester, and so my first business was to set Nibs with Magdalene off to the grazing area. The two horses recognized each other, and there was some romping before they each calmed down and set to the munching. Nibs also enjoyed having Magdalene’s trough to eat from, which had been filled with fresh hay that morn.
When the horses had been cared for then, Stephen and I came into the house, and I set a fie going in the hall, and he sat on Mary’s dowry chest in the front.
“I have brought some men down from the manor to help with your project, Julian. Not Roger— he is busy rounding up more of the wool gathered by such as your father. But I know you will remember Garthson, who rode along with us to London?”
“Fair well. He of the simple mind yet watchful eye.”
“Yea, him, as well I brought Shaftley and Blightson. But they are yet back at Penzance, lodge where I left them. I want to let you know what’s been going on up there.”
Mary left the ale spreading to Pamela and joined us in the hall, sitting on a stool near the fire.
“First off, I must say, Mary, that your father is yet indeed well and returned to Chester just a matter of days before I left. He knows that the King’s men had been to the house and visited upon your mother the bill for more barrels and casks. That he should have returned when he did was fortunate, for now, he has returned to finishing the remainder of barrels, and should be finished with the entire smelly business soon. He said he assisted some manner the Glyndwyr force as it happened to hit Aberystwyth and in that, he merely assisted by providing some coopage to a number of the supply wagons. He did not take up arms. So while yet he had marched with them, he cannot be said to have taken arms against Henry. And by doing so he won a provenance himself from Glyndwyr, which he used to show to the Carpenter’s Guild in Chester that he had not, in fact, gone full over to Henry’s camp, when he accepted what he still calls his “Devil’s due, and blood money” for the contract he is finishing with. In fact, when he is done, he will be building coopage and barrels and same for Glyndwyr! If all goes well, then the King’s men will have done with him soon, and he can get on with the other work.”
“What of this new contract?” asked Mary. “Was there fair money in this, or has he taken this on with no compense?”
“He has indeed taken it on, but the terms are not privy to me. He has secreted the pages of the contract in a secret place in your house. He said that you may have an idea of that...”
Mary looked at him, and her eyes swam back, but she seemed to nod, and then asked:
“If the King’s men find this contract...”
“Then it is all up for Robert, I am afraid. They fair bought the excuse that he was off at Manchester visiting an ailing relative, but only so many absences could be excused. Luckily the balance due will be finished soon, and Robert can get on with other things.”
“What of my mother?”
“Aye, your mother be well also, and despite her been worried by those King’s men, she has not been molested nor robbed, which is lucky, when I compare their treatment of your family with mine.”
Mary nodded again. I was now curious about my Dad and about Simon.
“Simon, Julian, has taken again to the plow, although as I saw him, and visited him and your father, they both were rather hard put by the winter. It is harder there than it is here- here you have the calming of the Channel to ward off some of the north winds. But even so. Simon walks, but he does walk with a limp, and often with a cane. He takes the cane along as he plows, and he has the support of the plow itself, but he binds up the cane along, to help him walk back from his furlong. The injury has not worsened, in fact, he says the skin healed quite well, thanks to the aid you gave him the day of the battle...”
I remembered well that ugly afternoon, when Henry Percy had been struck down, and our leaders taken prisoner, and how I found Julian stricken through the thigh with a foul wound, which I bound up with a poultice, and how we both shivered away the night hoping we should not have been caught by soldiers. Which we were, when we tried to leave the town, after the prisoners were killed- but they had let us go, after all.
“I took the scallop amulet from Albertus, and laid it at my father’s grave, just as he had asked me to. My father’s grave yet lies without a stone, but I have given some thought to it, and hope that off my next trip to France this year, I may have funds to provide for one. In any case, Albertus’ wishes were respected. And Roger has taken quite well to the management of the manor’s books. So well in fact that I was able to leave him behind to manage that, as well as gathering what he might from local farmers, the wool, you know, of course...”
“Stephen, we do hope to get our project here off the floor in a manner of speaking, on May Day. If you are here...”
“Alas, Stephen, I might not be. For this year, it is my new love who is to be the Queen of the Chester May!”
“You have a love, have you? Well, blessings, my friend!”
“Yes, indeed she is. For she is younger yet than Mary, and Mary could know her, I do not know. She is a costerman’s daughter, named Flora, and lives in a different part of Chester than Mary had- closer in to the churches, in fact.”
I could see Mary searching her memory, but she did not show a sign nor speak a word as if this girl were known to her.
“But after all, Julian, I have the need myself of a good wife to hold our estate, and take up things such as Roger has done as well, and those wifely things upon which you have your own wife to commend herself.”
Mary almost blushed, but she did not speak, again. Pamela was in the back, adjusting another of the racks, and we could hear a crash as one of the trays mistakenly found its way to the floor, and some curse words, as she minded herself to sweeping the grain back up to respread it. Mary excused herself and took back to the business of Pamela’s clumsiness. There were words, but not cross ones, exchanged.
Stephen asked me about the tavern now.
“I did receive your letter, and I know you have had this in works now for a few months. Mind would you take me outside and walk me through the place?”
“Certainly!” And we went out doors, to the east and southerly area that had been adjusted to take on the addition of some eight hundred sixty four square feet of area. I pointed out the main dining hall, and where the bar would be going, and walked him into the kitchen, with the pair of special hearths and the brewing room. We passed out of doors, where the cat was worrying with a mouse it had caught, and I showed to him the plowed field, now filled with short, bright green stalks of barley, and where the pile of wood for the horse and pigpens lay stacked.
“Here is something which your men can help me with, Julian. The horse needs a pen, and also, we do need to build on a small stable attaching that to the tavern- room for a half dozen horses, or five horses, and that pig you see, making a walllow over by the vegetable patch.”
“The area for the pen you san see I have marked off with those short stakes over there. There must be two gates— one for the horse, one for the pig, and there should be more room given to the horse, for she needs to stretch herself. The pig needs really but room to wallow, eat, and for his own trough.”
Stephen agreed.
“I can bring them back with me tomorrow, and we can get started on it.”
“I will pay them a penny per day but I do not expect them take longer than three to finish.”
“Surely. And Garthson has come up a way, actually.  Where he was once but a stupid haywain he has learned some things about the sorts of enclosures just as this. I think he would do a good job.”
“So, I suppose, will his helpers. But I waited last to do this, because of my baker neighbor upstairs, and because I wanted a good idea of how much of the barley might be sacrificed to their little bit of ground. And I have one more favor to ask of you, Stephen.”
Puzzled, he gave me a querying look. “Which is?”
“Honey! I need honey, and you have bees. I will pay you your fare rate if you can bring me down a goodly sum of it, that there might be sweet for our customers.”
“I feel that a fair thing you might ask. Since father died I have done little to keep accounts with the costers of Chester. You shall get a lion’s share. Not to be worried, Julian, for lack of honey. Next trip ere I return, you shall see it.”
As it had turned out, there had been little reason to worry. There would be enough barley for at least a season’s crop for Mary and I to make our own bread, baked upstairs, and Mary’s ale in the next year. And while a few months more might be a good long time to wait for Stephen’s honey, I could get a smaller portion from those who sold at the market.
I had laid in a great number of ale bottles, pottle-flasks, and jugs, and a couple of large casks and that sort of thing, which I bought from a glazier, a tanner, and a cooper in Penzance. They had not been cheap! And their sizes, of course must have passed with the Alemasters, that we should not cheat our buyers. But I knew we would rely on some of the locals, at least, to return with their pottle-flasks and containers when they wished to refill at Mary’s shop. All in all, the brewery itself was fairly well sized in proportion to the kitchen, and with the addition of the large vats, in which we always had three different batches of a different phase underway, the brewery room had taken on a fragrance and odor of its own. Pamela and Mary were handling it all quite well, though. If they needed an extra hand beyond themselves, Mary would not mention it, yet at least.
Pamela for her part had taken the room in town she promised us, as soon as Mary began paying her her own penny-a-day in brewing wages. And she came each morning, walking from town, when she was needed, and when she was not, she remained up in the town, and either haunted the Pelican Inn,  or stayed in her room, reading what she could of local lore. As a student in Chester she had won a great prize for her scholarship of the local history—the tales of Cheshire from King Arthur up to the Conquest, and later, of the Edwards, and Richards, and now (as things would have it) the Henrys.
It was with that in mind that I gave Pamela a gift of my own, which was a book from the library of Clarence, which told many tales of local bards and minstrels. This book, the “Melodica Infustia Penwith” had been written by a monk named Laurent Divinal in the years of the last great Cheshire plagues— the ones which had taken my mother and Stephen’s. It had numerous names and stories about the lives of some of the great men who had sung before the court— of Anselm’s fathers, as well as tales and lays which they had all sang of, decades before I was born, and in giving Pamela this gift, I told her, perhaps, one day she could add the stories of Clarence and myself to the end pages.
I hoped this had not seemed presumptive, but as it might happen, over the next few years,  anyway, Clarence and myself, and even Ranulf, were to end up caught up, again, in many a gesture of calumny with the great King in London, and to some extent, so would Anselm. If it were possible that the Rising could prevail in Wales, and Cheshire yet be joined to Wales as a manner of loyalty, then it would have been people like Clarence and myself that would be there to sing the stories of the nobles and knights. Having Pamela a write the tale of Cheshire exiles like Albertus and myself might go some ways to helping people of the future understand what happened to us, in the case the cause be lost for good.
But I had many more things to think about than how it all plays in London. In fact what I needed to do was go to Penzance and meet those very people whom I needed to know, those who were the fishermen, costermongers, butchers, and others, who would help keep the Fallen Lady open for business. My first stop, then, was to a butcher whose shop was on Chapel street.
A vain, crude man, but regarded by such as Moselles as being fair in his dealings (as Moselles sometimes might not be!) Odo Trappet was happy to learn there would be another tavern he could get a hand in.
“To you I should come for my sides of beef and my lambs and pig. I hope that I might have need of only one cow, one pig, and two lambs per week. Do you think that is fair?”
“I would say perhaps, if since as you tell me, you are supplying a tavern and not an inn. Should you have an inn then overnight guests would want their morning meat as well. All the same, yes, I charge eight shillings per cow and two shillings per pig and three per spring lamb. Of course winter lamb will cost you the same!” he laughed. But I knew he was cozzing me, for winter lamb cannot cost the same, that is the law.
“I will arrange for our helpers to come to see you before each week begins then. You will know them by our sign, the will present on each bill. Please sign each bill so that we know this has been delivered and that we owe you. Payments I shall make on each Friday, I shall ride to town as this and stop and talk to all of my people. Does that sound fair?”
“It does. Only remember that on Fridays I close early... no later than three in the afternoon.”
“I shall note that.” He did seem to be honest, if bloody ugly, but I was learning not to lay much stock in the cut of a man’s clothing or the shape of his face. And I would remember, of course, about the early closing. He’d need to be the first person I saw in any case.
On my way toward the port, I saw a man who had been set in fetters who was locked into the pillory. He was being jeered at by a large group of passerby. Upon the pillory was a sign—“I sold rotted flesh!” and beneath his head and the pillory sat a large shank of beef. Clearly maggoty and smelling most horrible, this was the meat the man had tried to sell. It was a reminder to me that Mary and I would be resolved to honesty in our weights for food and not working “against the assizes” in any way. I was determined that neither of us would end up like this— like the old Songgemonger of London! Pilloried and taken as ammerced for cheating our patrons! Heaven forbid.
Next, with that moral lesson deeply impressed upon my mind, I took to the harbor and spoke round about to learn who the fishers were, who went out in their boats a’day, and which amongst them might have the mightiest of catch.
I resolved that I would make my decision when I was home that night, because of all of them, there were a group of four who seemed the best, and I had to decide on one, lest the rest still beat about for my favors. I also saw a little man who caught oysters, cockles, mussels and clams, wading out into the muck about the low tides, who sometime also took crabs, and spoke with him. He would offer me what he caught each day, early he could come walking to the Lady after his diggings, and it did seem to me that for but a half-groat a day he might give enough of these to make a lot of soups. And he would come each day! Hopefully Scupper the pelican would make a play for what leavings we would make of them. In any case, Bestcot the oysterman was someone good to know.
Walking back up into town from the harbor I began stopping in victual shops. I met a pair of costermen who seemed true of eye if not of word, and they might supply us with the vegetals and sauces we were seeking. Even as we would make much of our own sauce it helped having those nearby who had bottles made up already. Verjus and chestnut sauce and jams.
I then went back to the harbor to speak with Albertus. Barcelona sat now at the edge of the harbor, anchored and sails furled.
I enquired when he would be leaving next for France, and could he bring back wines and brandy when he did?
“Unfortunately Julian, Barcelona is in need of a bit of repair. As it happens we need to re-pitch and caulk her before we leave for anywhere. And she needs her sides scraped of barnacles. I would be happy to bring you back good casks, but for a small price, of course.”
“Of course! But when do you think you shall be returning there?”
“Given the need, perhaps I can leave in another two weeks. What is keeping me here is also the weather. You have seen the snows and the high winds and rain! Imagine that on the sea! I may plan next though to travel to Bordeaux as well as Bruges- it will be a month’s worth of journeys, at least, and perhaps two, before I can bring back what you are asking for. But,” he added with a gleam in his eye—“I should definitely bring you that apple brandy you enjoy!”
I left Albertus, disappointed that it would be so long before we had wine. But we would have Mary’s good ale. Now it remained I needed to see a potter or a smithy for mugs, tankards, plates, and cups and such.
I went to a little shop called Plumbum which was not a long walk from Odo the butcher’s.
Inquiring within I learned the proprietor, one Elric Beres, had been granted the boon of making all of those things for the table of Anselm, and that he knew him, and was on friendly terms! When I mentioned that it would be some months before I could get my wine from Albertus he shushed me.
“No, friend, you can have them sooner. Ask of Anselm! He has been known to do such.”
I did not like the idea much of the need to ask Anselm of anything, for all he already had done for me, laying out the money which now I was laying out to these men I had met today. But the potter was adamant that Anselm would be in favor of this.
“You see, my friend, if Anselm can have what he wants in any man’s pockets, then that man is ever more under Anselm’s command. And he is no tyrant, but fair generous, as I am sure you know by now. Let him know that you will have your own supplier, in the amount of allotted time, and I grant you he shall help.’
“He has already done so much for me.”
“But you see, son, you have to understand that is the way of the nobleman. He does for the villein what he can, in sooth that the villein might be ever more eager to return the favor, whether it be in pounds shillings pence or in battle.”
“I have not heard Anselm to be a man of battle.”
“Ah, but yet, he shall and has always been such. Just because he has not yet been called by the liege King, does not mean he himself has no favor to owe.”
“And yet I do not see him swinging sword nor axe.”
“Like it be that he thinks hardly much on that, for war sickens him.”
I left the shop with all the cups, mugs, plates and jugs I could carry. I had at least two more places I needed to go- to see someone about fruit, and the smith.
The man who had the fruit stand at the market was named Kenbrucke and he was of a ruddy face, just like many of the apples he sold out of bushels. He had pears, and plums, and cherries, and much that might have been out of season, but hich had been dried, and which could be turned into fillings for pies and the like if it were but soaked in water.
I bought a bushel of each type of fruit, and told him I would be back, twice a month, for something similar. As spring was at hand and the summer yet had its crop to harvest and gather, it would be good having all of this at hand. Besides what I might offer my customers for their daily meal, I could use many of the dried fruits as an offering to Moselles, who could make tarts and pies with them. And it was nigh that I had all these things somehow to load down Magdalene. Yet that one last place to visit would not need taking home just yet.
The smithy, Old Bess Farber, was a widow who had herself lived long in the shadow of her husband’s passing, killed in battle he was, and now, Old Bess stoked a mighty fire and had, of course, been the one to whom I had taken Magdalene when her shoe had been thrown. Old Bess the very likeness of a woman of no small bearing—her forearms the size of my own biceps— told me a story I had little known, but she said that most of the townspeople knew her “as one who would see fit to make the nails to crucify the Lord himself.”
“Well, someone would have had to do it, whether they liked it or not, and that was fair money anyway.”
The hardness of the soul of a blacksmith’s wife! I marveled, but I did not comment. Because I had an offer to make her. I would pay her the sum of fifteen pence each for a pair of brewing vats, three feet deep and two wide. With tops, of course. And I needed a few other pots, and pans, of a smaller size. For all this I might pay her a ten-shilling, for these were the staples, for daily use in our kitchen. I would not need to pay her now, but would come to pick up my order at the end of the week. She nodded to me.
“Yes, fain I should enjoy to put a new tavern up in the place. All these tavern men here in Penzance, why, they are a lot of cheaters. They will overcharge you for a tankard if they can, and they will short you on your meat, and they will cry to the burgesses “we only did what we could do to make out our profits!” Neatly, too. They are men of ill-repute. So. Is your pretty wife the one who makes the ale?”
“Aye, she doth, and it is fair good too!”
“It makes me weep to think there be no better means of a woman’s living than to eke from the gleaned grain the spirit of ferment. You know of course that most alewives have the bad reputation? That your wife— whether or not she be faithfully betrothed to you— she will be the center of attraction for many of our local louts, don’t you?”
“I see no...”
“Well, this will be a real problem for you and I can guarantee it for you. She may be the finest loyal girl in the world, but when the knockers come drumming about with their “wassail this” and “wassail that” and dare her show her legs and more...”
“Say no more, madam smithy. I will give you good fair trade, and Mary will keep us fair and square. It is my hope that by honesty I can gather more customers.”
“Well, good luck to you then, but know ye, you and your wife, ye will have more trouble than you planned on, many times over, in ways you never dreamed of. Taverners all have the curse of Joseph on them.”
“The curse of...”
“Joseph. When he and the Holy Mother were set on their way and none would give them lodging. He cursed them. That is why God gave to you the task of trying to be honest, because you have to show yourself fair. Be kind to the men who come and bring you their horses, and always give them the hay they paid for, and do right by all— feed them fairly and do not scrimp! For it is a foul brother who would cheat just to get one over...”
All she said was more food for thought. I would return to town in a week, to pay the butcher, and the fisherman and oysterman, and now that I had a great sack full of things to drag back home on Magdalene, I finally called quits to the town for the afternoon.
The very next day I set Garthson, Shaftley and Blightson to work on what I wanted to see happen for the pen and the stable. I provided them enough wood that they could build something tall enough for a man to stand up in and wide enough that a horse could move in both directions to a stall, and six stalls, with a smaller stall on the end (which was Jubb’s). Each man I paid a tuppence for a days work, and while Garthson seemed slow, Blightson was quicker of wit, and sussed easily the task and how to bring it off. In this Garthson, once again, was the strong back that moved the wood where it should go, but Blightson quickly sketched out the shape of it, and Shaftley was able to be nimble with hammer and nail. It looked good! And it took up the entire western edge of the new building.
I had one more need, which I could pay Stephen’s manor men to help with, and there was a lot less sweat involved, though it were still work. Beside the new stable I wanted a pitch for bowls, where guests might come with their ale and wine and sip while they played at pins. I had benches brought from the town- they were cheap, and gotten at a fraction of what they had cost to create, for in town there were tearing down a church school house, and there were pews inside which were easily placed against the stable walls. And the men cleared off the land, and made a clearing such that I might seed it with grass, and that would be the bowls lawn. All of it was taking shape as I had thought it could, and it looked even better now that it was real than it had been when I imagined it.
At the end of their hard days I did pay all three of Stephen’s men just as he would have for a day laboring, and rewarded all with free ale, and a loaf from Moselles.
Moselles too was impressed by all that had gone into the making of our mutual gilded goose, and The Fallen Lady’s sign now hung from blue copper bars above the doorway, beneath the eaves.
All we needed was a last wash of the daub walls with good white wash, and she would be a sight any traveler would hope to give his feet rest at, to fill his tummy, and quench his fierce thirst.
That, we hoped, could be the next phase. And we had a week of free time meanwhile.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


When I returned that night from the castle, I was but a half hour behind Magdalene and Mary. Mary had tied her in the accustomed spot near the house’s side. Panoptes was up and about, wagging his tail, and quite happy to see me. We had allowed him the right to sleep in the house, as the nights were yet cold, and perhaps growing even colder. There were still January and February to shiver through, and many days of snow and rain, when the fireplace and the pile of firewood were a welcome aspect of our estate. Mary welcomed me to bed, and I disappeared into the mystery which was her, and slept then after, well soothed by what had been a joyous feast, and so far as I had asked, all my prayers been answered, I slumbered long until after the cock crow.
“Julian,” Mary told me, as light came through the window, making me realize that here was yet another day, perhaps another day full of troubles, “I wish to tell you something.”
“What is it?”
“I believe we need to give the horse new shoes.”
“Prithee, and why?”
“Last night as I rode back with her, I believe she threw one. I know not how long it had been since she was shod, but now, I am sure of it, for the poor thing hobbled some from then on. It was on the Whychoome.”
“I will have a look.”
This would not be a good thing, for the blacksmith was up in Penzance, today was St. Stephen’s day, and I had hoped to be free of such a trip at least a day and night, for I wanted to give Ranulf time on his own, and not burden him with my company.
Out in the yard, good Magdalene stood near her trough, and swiped her tail round about, and picked up her ears when she saw me.
“Fine horse, that you are, allow me the liberty of assaying your hooves!”
She snorted, and pulled back a bit, but I grabbed her by the fetlock and pulled up each hoof in turn, that I might discern which shoe had gone a’loss.
It was the front right foot... The other shoes seemed well sturdy, but that one shoe was definitely gone. While it would not kill her to make the trip to town, yet, it would have to be done ere we took any more journeys. And I hoped to be able to see Clarence at his shop at Mousehole sooner. So, grumbling as to how there be always some matter to trouble a body, I resolved that I would take Magdalene on the morrow to the smithy, and replace the lost shoe.
While I was out in the yard I looked over the possible place, near to where I had begun the plowing, that I might make her a pen. It did not need to be big, yet room enough for her to canter about some, and not be so large that it disturbed the sown land, on which we were depending for our ale-barley. I needed wood to make the stockade. This would cost me some also. Perhaps there were men in Penzance, perhaps I could go to a shipwright, and collect some off-beams. But I would need to make the tip in any case, so I resolved it would be a part of the journey to the smithy.
I returned to the house, and my study, where the lute Luisa now hung again on the wall, and where the star-chart which Porcull had given me as a wedding gift now hung upon the wall.
It was then I turned to something which I remembered I had promised to do. I began looking up the astrological aspects for the birthday of my friend Abu. I found the scribbled date which he had given me in haste, in our last time together as we walked away from the Cove of the Ogre in Harfleur. There it was again: April 17, 1379, and he said he was born at the hour of seven toward sunset.
Looking at the chart which set before me on the wall, I surmised the planets which had the chief effects on Abu’s destiny. Yes, he was born under the sign of the Ram. But he would have the Scorpion on his ascendant, which would lend even more of a caustic cast to his person, and he had two other significant planets under the Ram as well—Mercury, which added even more force to his ambitions, and Mars, which being the very name of the Greek god which gave the Ram Aries its name, could only add more fuel to his inner fire. So it was that I saw these certain things as driving forces in his life and mind. He was definitely a determined character, and I was glad that I had been as direct as he in my stating in no uncertain terms what our friendship should mean, should he have ever got any such ideas in his head as to a design to steal away my Mary.
But as he reassured me that all his thought was, but only to look upon her as an ideal to be worshiped from afar, I held that no grudge on our friendship. In fact I guess that it had allowed Mary a certain more latitude, that he should bend to  any whim of hers, and had she been wanton of it, she might direct him unto some task both impossible to achieve, and yet, impossible to ignore. But as I am coming to know her well, realize, that is just  not the type of woman she is!
Now it was the turn of the other planets of his horoscope to come under my scrutiny. He held the goddess planet Venus in Taurus— adjacent to the sun, Mercury, and Mars, and while this was not in a “fortunate” aspect it was also typical of those born at any time, that the three inner planets should be so closely drawn in their orbit. It also perhaps threw some practical means of addressing reality into what might otherwise have been a purely idealistic and insufferable approach to the outer world! This was balanced quite favorably by two planets in the sign of the Sea-Goat, Caripcornicus, the Moon and Jupiter. And there yet was one more planet in the realm of the Ram, which was Saturn. This I should have to assume at some point further into my inspection of his celestial makeup. But that was a good thing, that there was the pyramidal stretch, or as Porcull would have called it, the “trine—between his Moon and Jupiter. This aspect Porcull had told me, is always something lending grace or ease to a man’s life. It might make some things easier, an yet it can also make some things less obvious to him.
Now I turned to the aspect of the relationship of Saturn and Jupiter, set as they are, at an angle, not of three houses (as were the moon) but of four houses. This, Porcull had told me, adds complexity and strife to the endeavors of a man’s will. For if the “trine” helps a man’s life along with more ease, a “square” represents a difficulty, or a possible obstacle, something which he would need to overcome, or surpass.
But as usual, and also, as Porcull once said, looking at the entire picture was what mattered. The other relationships of planets had a lot to do with a man’s coming up a winner, in end, and “the stars impel, they do not compel.” By which, Porcull had meant, that every individual man and woman has their own free will. If by God’s providence some are blessed with an ease of success, and others earn nothing but worry and toil by all their efforts, surely it is not only God’s will that it might be so, but that each person had chosen a way they might follow, and the path of life is a twisted, winding, complicated thing, for anyone as it is.
Sometimes as I lay abed in Porcull’s cottage, gazing up at his ceiling thatch, I came on the odd idea that Porcull himself might be, less a master in these arts, but even something of a charlatan! For in my mind there were always doubts. If I chose my path out of what I felt to be that which might bring me the greatest gain, or had I chosen to go on as I was, something of a prisoner of my own fate, to forever be known as no more than “Davis’ second son, and of less account even than his first”—well then, I meant to do better than that, whether it were God’s will that I remain in such a poor state or not. But then, I did make a free choice, and chose to leave Davis and Simon, and I felt I were both a better man, and had gained better prospect from the world for having done so.
But in any case, I had never really given it a lot more thought than that, and now my thoughts had turned toward Abu and his own life and situation. I took pen in hand and began to write him a letter.
“To Abu al-Sayyad, Minstrel of the Court of the Sultan Muhammad VII of Granada...
“Abu, it is my great hope that in your receiving this that I have found you once more to be at the court of your Great Prince, and in fine health, and that your travels from France have safely led you home. I was honored to have made our acquaintance and shall always hold the happy memories of the music we made, of our talks on our travels, and of the discoveries both of us had made as regard each other, our own countries, and the country of France. I write you in fulfillment of a promise I made you, which was that I should set out the chart of your birth stars, and lend, if  I might, some insight and discourse as to their possible meaning, as it might bring you good luck, for as a friend I feel I am, the fortunes of friends are what bring and bind them together, however near or far aways they might be, in the course of place and times.
This, then, is the chart I have made for you.”
And I then drew upon my parchment page the circle of the sky, with the left hand side being placed his rising star (the Scorpion) and at the other side, the House of the Ram, which held his Sun, Mercury, Mars, and Saturn all. I placed all the planets best I could as to their degree from each other, and then took a different colored pen and with some finesse (so I thought) traced out the aspects as Porcull had shown me must relate trines, squares, and oppositions. My hand felt crabbed, so I left off when I had done so, and decided to get back to finishing the rest of the letter after I had had some refreshing.
In the “refreshing time” I went outside and checked on the horse, and the dog, who was also grown some inches since we had brought him over from France. His thick fur had gone quite fluffy and he welcomed me with enthusiasm. I let him off the long rope tether we usually kept him on in daylight, and he frolicked here and there about the new garden. Mary had given him a great beef bone, which he worried with all his joy whenever he was bored with barking at whatever it was caught his notice upon the road, or any unwelcome passerby. He was turning into the watch dog I had hoped he would become, actually.
I walked with Panoptes out the long broad path which led toward the shingle, where the cypress trees came to an end, and there where the sand met the good fertile earth Panoptes freely ran up and down the shingle, tarrying here and there after some bug or crab, or piece of sea weed, and every time I called his name, he ran back to me, and pranced about in joy. I found a stick and threw it down the strand, and this he brought back to me with no prompting, and laid it at my feet.
He was indeed a good dog! I had done well in allowing Mary’s pleasure, that he should come back to Penance with us. And when Panoptes had run himself into a state of lolling tongue and short breath, and had tired of the game of bringing back the stick, I turned aside, and returned to the house. There I brought him inside, and he sat by my feet as I continued my letter to Abu.
“I have noticed many things about your stars which I should explain to you. The lines, as you may or may not know, which connect the planets in the circle, are the aspects of these stars to each other. You have several auspicious, and several inauspicious conditions happening.”
“There are trines, or angles set at four houses from each other, between your Venus and Jupiter, your Mercury and Jupiter, your Moon and Venus. Your sun is in the sixth house opposite to your rising star, Scorpius. You Venus-Jupiter “trine” then means that you will most definitely have love! The love which you seek, perhaps the love of which you spoke you sought, or perhaps some other person, but you shall have it. There are some “squares (planets set three houses apart” which themselves seem to represent difficulty in endeavors, but none that approach definite denials. These lie between your Moon and Mercury (the realms of thought) Mars and Jupiter, Jupiter an Saturn, and yet, because your sun has also a trine with your Jupiter, you will have very, very good fortune, when all is said and done!”
“I cannot speak to all these things Abu, and yet, by what the chart has shown me, I feel that you will become a man who will gain much in the world, and be looked upon as one who has made some mastery of his station.”
“It is my hope that your journey home was pleasant, and that you made the places you told me you meant to se. Our own trip back was without great loss or trouble, and we are now back in Penzance, with our house, our horse, and dog, and we are going about making preparations for the feast of Christmastide, with the noble whom I mentioned to you, in which we (myself, Ranulf the Piper, and Clarence, my local friend of near location) shall be the musical providers. I will treasure long the memories of the night in Harfleur where you accompanied Ranulf and I at song! Well I wish you and good contentment, Abu. I hope that your land remains at peace, and that you come into your full measure, and that you be blessed by Allah in everything you undertake.”
“With due respect and great love!
Julian Plectrum, Penzance, England.”
I sealed the letter with a stamp in wax, which was my own design (it was a viol shape, and the stamp itself was in the form of a key, not a stone) and decided that when I could, when I went to Penzance, I should go to a postal station and see it off. Of course it would be weeks, if not months, before Abu received it, but, my promise kept, I could now return to the many tasks about me and my household.
Finished with my writing and having sealed my scroll, I gave word to Mary I was on my way to town to see about Magdalene. I took the money with me that all her shoes should be replaced— it was now deep winter, and she would benefit by the change.
Bess Farber was our blacksmith, located at the north side of Penzance, near to Polmennor and far enough out of the way that she rarely got visits from the bailiffs or burgesses— not that she might need them.
She looked up from her hammering— she seemed to be working on the form of a bell— and gazed at me, squinting.
“And what be your peril?” asked she.
“Tis a matter of our horse. She has thrown a shoe, and I fain would have all four replaced, if that not be too much, good lady.”
Eyeing me with a scrutiny I had not felt since last I lived with my father, she turned to Magdalene.
“Well, let’s ‘ave a look’it’er.”
She grabbed Magdalene by the fetlock and gave her a pat on the side as she did so.
“Which foot it tis?”
“Ah- this one.” She answered her own question.
“Now good ‘orsey, just stay yourself still. I shall be but an hour or so, good sir. Kindly make yourself at home about my works, or, if you like, wander free in the meadow behind us. The weather is good today and you can see far.”
“Thank you, good lady. I am Julian Plectrum, and I came from Cheshire this year to live in Penzance town.  Actually, I have known this town for some matter of years, but I married and have brought my wife here. She being the daughter of a carpenter and cooper in Chester. We have settled at the home what was that of Lady Devonside. Do you know of that story?”
She busied herself with unshoeing Magdalene’s other three feet.
“Lad, not much ever ‘appens in this town I ‘ave not ‘eard nor ‘ave a mind to but once. Yes, I know the story alright. Rich lady came to a bad end. They said she was a pleasant sort, ‘er ‘usband went a bit mad out ‘ere, and ‘ad t’ return to his puffed up city life. yes, I know that place. ‘At’s yours now, eye?”
“We plan to build it out and make it a tavern.”
“Aw, that will getcha some looks round about ‘ere, wot with all the places in town ‘ave a notion to deal to sailors, scallawags, and sluts!”
I did not know what to say to that, but kept quiet.
“You know I shall do my best on your ‘orse ‘ere. You’re not such an old lad. ‘Ow did you come across a horse like this? And wots this on ‘is rump, eye? A big circle with a “B” on ‘is bum?”
“Tis a warhorse, good smith. I found her at the battle of Shrewsbury, abandoned to the field, after the fight. The B is for Boynton— a noble who was killed for treason, after.”
“Ah, battles, warhorse. Yer keepin’ good care o’ her, tho. I can see she’as a good paunch here, but firm stout legs.”
“She has lately been with me to France. I traveled to Amiens, and the Fair, upon her.”
“Oh, so you travel, eh? What be our line of work takes you off our fair island to pleasure?”
“Was not my work, madam, was a gift of a good friend. My wife and I spent our honeymoon a fortnight traveling with his merchant goods to the fair and back. For occupation, I am a minstrel. But soon I shall be a taverner, and will be tied to the land, and the place, and this town. It shall be... I hope... something of a better way to keep my wife...”
“Ah, is but only one way to keep a wife, lad. That is if you be good and true. Otherwise, is all bets off, and she’ll have others. Especially workin’ a tavern, eye? Yes, especially. There will be men about to test you and try your wit and strength.”
“Madam smith, I protest but kindly. My wife will hear none of that, nor party any other man.”
“That is your hope, son. Now here, let us to the next pair of hooves...”
Her strong sure hands and calm attitude kept Magdalene from bucking and I was surprised she relented so easily to the smith. She had obviusly been through being shod a few times— I had no idea how old she was, but a good guess would be about four, and whomever of Boynton’s men had ridden her had long seen her as a proper fitted rider.
I decided it best not to distract the woman and went out of doors to see what she had referred to.
In back of her shop— that was what it was, although it was more like a small house with an open side to the west— was a great expanse of field, broken rye and heather, gorse bushes, and brambles. But there was also a path which cut through it made of paving stones, and this I walked on for some ways, until I came to a bench that looked out over Penzance and the ocean. While the day was cold, at least it was not snowing nor raining, and I sat, and thought thankful thoughts about what we had gone through this year, how glad I was to have survived the ordeal of Shrewsbury, how lucky I was to have my dear Mary, and how lucky we were indeed, to have Anselm as our friend and benefactor, a better lord we could not have dreamed of, and how my friends Stephen, Roger, Albertus, and Ranulf— and Abu! were the best friends I could have had for being who I was where I was, in my little time so far in the world.
I left Bess the smith to her work. Round about another hour, or so, like she said, I heard her call for me, and I came back to her to get Magdalene and be off.
“’Twill be four pence for the shod, lad. And I am Bess, Bess Farber. I’m the only and best smith here in Penzance and surrounds, as you shall learn, or if this ain’t bein’ teachin’ ya. Well done the horse is, she’s got all four feet on the ground. Watch her prance! Yes! Well, have you good day, lad, and maybe we’ll be seein’ you again, soon!”
I laid out my four pennies on her anvil, and she nodded, pleased.
Magdalene’s jangling saddle accompanied me merrily as I rode back to Mary, and we spent that whole afternoon together, lying in each other’s arms, and when not, we were by the hearth, drinking hot cider. Mary’s dowry had included, as a boon from her father, a portion of the money with which the king had bribed him. This ten pounds was Mary’s and hers alone- I knew not what she had done to safekeep it, although it had not been disturbed even in the time we had been in France. This money of hers I would not fain call my own, but hers alone to be the mistress of. If she needed ale malt and needed to purchase it it could as well come from herself as from the money which Anselm had laid out for me. Indeed, it should be Mary’s to use, for her clothing, for what she felt would be good to add to the household, and if she had any other debts. It also meant that together we were indeed more wealthy than many of our neighbors, if not at the height of riches like Lord Devonside.
With these thought and concerns of our estate on my mind, it was time for me to go out into the great field and return to my private chest the gold and coin which I had hidden ere we left for our trip. I resolved yet none should know what I had done, and so again, I must take this on after night had drawn deep, and Moselles and his wife, Thangustella, were fast asleep. That I also might do it in complete stealth, this time I took more time with my shovel and was patient.
Walking out to the exact tree along the cypress, the sky was growing full of clouds, and now and then these hid the moon, so that not only were it gloomy, and portending of rain on the morrow, but my digging was in the deeper dark. It had not been a night like this in summer when I had set the coin sack there.
But I dug, and to my joy and relief, of course, there was my treasure. Almost all of what remained of my fifty pounds, of course, except what I had taken for our expenses to France. I made haste to return the earth, and tamp it over, and even strewed more leaves upon it, lest Moselles discover that there had been something once hidden there. If all went well I might use this spot again, should I have the occasion.
I carried the sack back into the house, taking care to rouse neither Panoptes nor the horse, and when I got inside, I sat down at my writing desk, and counted all I had. There were yet shilling upon shilling, and groat upon groat, florins, and to the piles, I added what I had gained from France- there were some six florins worth, and small change, pennies and farthings. The whole trip had cost me but half of what I had expected, due to the generosity of Stephen, as well as the earnings from playing at the inns of Harfleur and Amiens.
And I scooped up this pile, and brought out the new chest which Robert of Chester had given me as his wedding present on the occasion of marriage to his daughter Mary. I sorted the coins, placing them by type into the compartments, and then, I took out two shillings, two groats, and what farthing-pennies were there, and I put these into my regular coin purse. I placed the chest back under the writing desk in a cupboard which fit below it. Now I felt as though I had come home, completely. From here, there would be better days, and times of work and rest, but the trip had been a pleasant one, even with the rains, and the mud— for I had made a friend of a man who was not of my own faith, and in this, I had come to know a bigger portion of the world, through the traveling and the places I had seen.

And we gained another pair of animals. There happened by a great pelican, which showed up each morning and afternoon, expecting scraps from Moselles, who fed him on ends of loaves and such, and whose custom it became to fly to the top of our back stairs, and sit upon the rail, and wait for Moselles with his leavings. This pelican could be a real attraction, I considered, especially if we happened to get the Inn going— “Welcome to the Fallen Lady, where we have a REAL pelican!” and take some of the edge off the inn in the town which had the same name, and so often took my friends for their earnings- or gave them (such as Ranulf) the earnings so bitterly won through playing to their crowd. Their crowd of course were hard, rough sailors and miner men, and while I expected we should get many of them ourselves, the Pelican was not the type of place I might think to take Mary should we have sought a public house in which to dine.
The pelican (Moselles called it Scupper) was soon joined by a small female cat, not quite yet out of kittendom. It had stripes all up and down the body, was colored tawny buff and dark grey, with even some black, and had white socks to its front feet, and white boots to its back ones. This cat came round (of course avoiding the awful monstrous pelican) to our own door, at the bottom rear, and begged to be let in on one morning when the snow had fallen and was some two inches deep all about the land.
Mary named the cat Kerfel, and decided that it should  get leavings from our milk and butter, and have what perhaps we might leave it from our table meat, but mostly it could live here and live at the inn, and keep away the mice and rats that were actually many, living in their holes out in the field, who had been evicted by the plow. All told then we had many animals now, and there would be many more to come in the next summer, once we had the Inn prepared and were working it.
The kitten Kerfel did not take well to Panoptes, to begin, but both Panoptes and the little cat learned to mind their common manners, and if the cat were at the back of the house, then Panoptes would often choose to remain at the front, if I were there. I took him wherever I went, as he grew older, I took him if I went riding on Magdalene (which I did, as a manner of helping her keep fit, on every other day) and he would keep up, as he grew, better and better, and learned how to run beside without getting in the way of the hooves, nor of spooking her. It might be said that as well as with the cat, Panoptes had a silent agreement with the horse, but the pig Jubb was another story.
Jubb was quite a hog. Yes, he was now entering his final year, and Moselles fattened him on leavings, and he could forage wherever he might along the hedgerow. But Jubb was also uncommonly bristly, like a wild boar, and half-tusked, which gave Moselles the idea that he was at least half tame pig and half boar. This could not have been uncommon, but it did make Jubb a bit mean and ornery, to the extent that Panoptes limited his interactions with the hog to barking, and telling him he would like him to be herded about in some direction. But the hog had quite a mind of his own. It would be well that if we might keep him from foraging over the root tops in our garden, and to that end, I agreed with Moselles, that when we built the pen for the horse, we should give a portion of that to pen Jubb as well.
We had not been home but even a week when Mary put it to me that now it was time for her to get on with alemaking again. I told her we would need to speak to Anselm about it, if she meant to make coin from it. She said she would like to, but first of all, she needed the grain! I think that this was, in some unsubtle way, a means of prodding me into thinking about my land, and that it would soon be time to plow it, and to sow barley in the field. I thought about the amount of seed barley I would need. I thought about the amount of barley she would need for making her first malt. I thought also about the authorities. There was Anselm, for one. Surely he would make a deal with her, whereas, she could charter her own ale... but would she fall in as a town alemaker or a country alemaker?
“Country, oh, definitely, Julian. She lives not in Penzance. Plus, if she lived in Penzance, the alemasters there would take more of an excise on her. Out where you are you can sell for a penny a gallon. In Penzance proper, they would ask you to sell for three, and take one! That’s hardly the way to run an enterprise.”
The more I thought about it all, the more I thought, perhaps I could make my own venture into this. First, there was the idea of an addition to the house, which meant, a small shelter or stable for Magdalene. This I could do quite easily all myself. But then, I thought, perhaps I might bring the bakers upstairs into a partnership... We might run a small alehouse-tavern. Not an inn, no, for that we would need to create many many more rooms! But to have a drinking and eating place, where people might come, sup, dine, drink, and listen to musicians all in one spot. For that I might need to spend a fair number of crowns, but I did have that to spare, and besides, the idea had taken  Anselm’s fancy also.
“Stephen, this is a good idea. For how long should you need to rely on the whims of other men in Penzance, those innkeepers and taverners, to keep alive your music? A few more month, and all of them would know you, and either weary of you, or give you less and less shrift. No, this is a good idea for you. For there are always those who come this way who would wish to have their evenings out in the country, and not, of necessity, so close to their ships, or so close to the minds of the alders. This might be a good thing for you.”
“You would be willing to write me a charter?”
“My dear boy, I would be willing to not only do that, but to invest! And give you some of my own excess, to fill your larders! You have no idea. I get so much wine off those who come to Penzance from France, seeking my favor! I’ve barrels and barrels of it stowed away in my own cellars. The people give me their butter and their milk and their grain- to such an amount, there is always more than my own bakers can make! I tell you, son, do this, and you will have a surety of income not even your fine lute playing could equal.”
So with his words in mind, I set to the baker upstairs, whose proper full name was Hardiman Moselles.
Moselles had grown up in Penzance, to a Cornish father and French mother, and had baking in his blood from the day he was born. Not only baking of bread, but the arts of making pies, tarts, pasties, and biscuits.  Anything you could put into an oven and come out the other side transformed, and he had the knack of it.
Of course, when I first mentioned this, he looked at me a little odd, and as if I were half-daft.
“Novun comes to Penzance and vants to zee ze country! Zey come’a to Penzance to play, to sport, to chaze ze gurls! Now... What vill ve need to do to make zees place a tavern, eh? Zees veel take a much money, zere will bebuilders ve must to employ, how big are we talkink? Are we speaking of zooming as beg as your own house? Or maybe only half? And while we have our kitchen up here, and zips we could use to make ze breads, vat vill you do to make ze dinnairs, and zed ales? Zoo must have much more room! Vell, vell. If you haff ze money zen it is your fool head. But ve are making good moneys, ourselves, yes? Zen if ve are in beeziness togezzer, zen zere ees so much more to worry ovair. But! Eef you vill garantee me my portion of ze profits, eh, zen vee vill pearhaps make good kind. Ve shall zee. But fairst, zu must build ze place!”
Yes, yes, I had to build the place. There indeed was much to think about. So while I began drawing up plans— such as that my miserable skill might allow, I began thinking about what size this should be, where the people would go, when they needed to relieve themselves, how much room was really need to make a meal kitchen, and how I could yet allow for some room for Mary’s malting, and where the brew vats should be. All of this. It took me almost another week to come up with a real answer, and then, I needed to figure how much wood I needed, how we should go about hiring the men from the town that would help us build it, and a dozen other things.
Meanwhile, I kept Magdalene on a tether near the side of the house, and while winter was indeed upon us sooner than I thought, I had also thought to create a lean-to about that area, so at the worst, she might have, if not a place to stand, she might have a place to shelter from the rains and the snow. There was new grass coming up, and she had that to graze, and for the most part, it was not even necessary to keep her tethered, for she was fond of us and had no reasons to run far afield.
Just before Anselm’s great Christmas party, I had been  able to put my back, and my ass, such as it was, tired little donkey of a body, into plowing the field. With Ranulf’s help I furrowed and seeded. Moselles was now busy with his own part of the land, and thinking carefully, I had lent him some coins in order that I might borrow his plow. I hitched Magdalene to it, and in three days, I had furrowed my section and managed to put in the seed. This was such a tiresome thing, however, I connived that next winter, I might indeed hire others to do this for me. Simon would have my head, of course, but what need Simon to know? For years he had already disparaged my lack of interest (or even any skill) at the farm chores. The best I was good for, he often had said, was running the sheep out and back, and watering the persimmon trees. And then he would laugh, and storm away into the morning mists, and Davis our father would look up, smile, and return to his own studies.
Anyway. To be sure, I now had a lot to take on. But the first thing I did just before I worked with Ranulf at the task was to buy six bushel sacks of barley, and gave four to Mary, and used the other two for the sowing. In that manner we had enough to get started with. Mary, and Pamela, set to work making the first batch as soon as she had the license and Charter (approved by Anselm) from the Ale Masters in hand.
Alemaking, of course, is an old and mysterious art, and yet, the mystery is more in how this manifests ,than how to manifest it. First a good portion of barleycorn is selected, and allowed to sprout in darkness. Then, that is taken, and dried (this was the part which was difficult, for we had so little space, and the darkness of winter cloud hung over the coast constantly! We resorted to using the floor and shelves in our own kitchen) and then that is roasted, into malt. The sprouted and dried, roasted malt is then set into a large kettle and boiled. It is cooled, and then, boiled again, and then, the wort gets taken out for slop (or fed to the horse and the pig, which was another less expense!) and that remaining brew is set aside for some days, and when it is ready, it’s bottled and shared out. Mary’s first batch was as good as any of her mother’s. And the Alemasters, indeed, when they came around, gave it no second thought. Fine enough! So now she was ready to hang out the besom on the front door. But we had few initial customers- oh, there were one or two men of the land, whom I spoke to, and were eager perhaps to help me begin my building, but there was no great rush to take the first excess off our hands, so we ended up sharing it with Moselles, who used a good portion of that as a starter for one of his breads!
Nevertheless, it was a good thing I had allowed Mary the opportunity to busy herself in this way. Each day, her and Pamela would spend hours together coming up with ideas for the food we might serve at the tavern— the tavern which was not even built yet! We would need to get hens, and a rooster, and perhaps a sheep or two, maybe even an ox, or pigs of our own...
All that began adding up in my head, and I wondered if I had made the right decision, myself. But I did not wonder on it long. I set out for Penzance one early morning in January and set about gathering some men who might help with the gathering the wood, and who might carpenter the addition. I also managed to gather a few Cheshire men, but that’s a bit more on the side of what I have to say about Stephen next, for it was Stephen who brought them.  It was decided (by Mary, Moselles, and his wife, and myself) we would make an addition to the building as long again as our house, but make it half as wide, and that in the back portion, where we had the kitchen, we would make a number of shelves for drying malt, and that the vats could stand under a portion of the counter. And that we could use Moselles’ oven for our malt roasting, albeit, once the morning loaves had already been prepared.
There would be a second hearth which could stand to do the brewing, and the brewing alone, as well as one which would be the main cook’s hearth. In order to keep the cooks, and brewers, out of each other’s way, there would be a long table that divided the two sections of the kitchen, on which the cooks might work, and which also held shelves below, to hold more malting corn.
The men I found who wanted to work on this project were all good local people. It was by hiring them, actually, that most first got to know me, although a few (not many) had been in the inns of the town, and had been familiar with my songs. It was a good thing that I had begun to take an interest in them, for had I not, there well might have been a mutiny of sorts, at one point in our building. I knew what I wanted the place to look like. I had even drawn pictures for the man who became the foreman. But at a certain point in building the upper roof beam, several of the young men decided they could not make the effort. They did not mutiny on me, but they did stop their work, for their argument was that when they worked in the rain, that the beams were slippery, and they had a bad hold on their ladders. I realized in this they were fair right, and that, most of our work should be done in better weather, at a better time of year (like summer!) but I figured that, since I had laid out so much money (my hoard had depleted now by at least a third of that it had been before we even had gone to France!) that nonetheless, we could continue the work, and they could feel free not to work on days of direct rain, but that they could still give me two days of the week, because the storms that came did not last a full week ever the free days were yet welcoming weather.
In such a way, by wheedling, and cajoling, and offering them all free ale, of course, they stopped their begrudging of my plans, and helped the tavern take shape. By the middle of February, they had erected the roof, and set up all the crossbeams, and set frames for the walls, and the whole outside of the addition had windows, and a space for a door. We dug a pit at the southwest corner which would be used for the privies, and this we fitted with its own hatch, that a person with a shovel and wheelbarrow— me that is— might remove the ordure to manure the fields. The bakers had told me this field needed a lot of fertilizing- they took their old oyster shells, even, crushed them to make lime, and spread that about, along with dried and powdered seaweed. This added an extra two or three days work to the plowing, but as I wanted my field to look just as green as Moselles’, I shrugged and added it to the list of things which just had to get done.
The ale could sell for three gallons to a penny, and a half penny for a pottle, and one farthing for a quart. The usual customer might drink two or three pints in a night— and we would probably get a good many people from the parts around who were not staying to eat, but only wanted their ale supply. It would be more convenient for the local people than to go all the way into Penzance, having an alehouse by the Whychoome Road.
For me, I looked forward to the day when we would hang the door, had laid down all the floorboards, and bricked in the hearth, and laid up all the shelves, and brought in the bar, and laid in all our supplies. That of itself took until a week into March. Not least, the thatchers came and put up the main of the roof. And by April’s end we were able and ready to begin, properly. Of course, by July, Mary and I could be ready to head north to see her parents, and I my father and brother, and Porcull, and to help Stephen in the fields of the Manor. So perhaps I should not rush so far ahead  of myself just yet! There was a lot more to tell about the conditions of the time in Cornwall, ideas of politics, and of that I shall give you more.
We thought we might open the tavern and then head north, but of course, that was not so easy, as running an inn, of course takes a good amount of minding. But there was a solution, and that solution, again, came from my friend Clarence.