It was now time for me to get my tavern known and noticed by my future patrons. I had done all the preparations with the food sources I needed— with Moselles, of course, who would be on hand daily and function as a sort of “balance” should I throw anything off keel, and I the same for him, I had made my arrangements with Albertus to bring wines from France and Spain across the Channel, that also he might have recourse to Anselm, I had dealt with the fishmongers and costermen of Penzance to supply me with fresh fish, oysters, and vegetables as well as a farmer or two who would provide the side of beef and hams as I would need them (generally no more than one per week of each, sometimes less, others more) and I had laid in with Mary a generous supply of fresh ale, which we had stored in casks beside the kitchen in the ale room. Stephen would be leaving ere we had opened shop, and we’d have a good tub of honey coming our way then. The walls of our kitchen were lined with jars of grain, dried frits, and oil, in readiness.
So all was prepared, and all was ready. I had really only two concerns now.
The first was of course, my role as tavern keeper and my ability to find others who were willing to play minstrel to the crowds. By being needed at hand in the kitchen or the bar, of course I could not always be expected to provide entertainments myself. I did have Clarence, and I did have Ranulf, and they would be well paid, as I knew the tribulations of the life. But I would need to bring others from out of our shire- and I would need to attract them. So it was decided that at some point we would send Wilmot up to Bristol, Exeter, and Falmouth to publicize The Fallen Lady and tell good minstrels there was a place they might come when they were done with wherever they were. I had no idea of the troubles this could bring me in the future, but of course, at the time, this seemed the wisest way to attract the kind of minstrels I felt we needed. Because I wanted music every evening if we could.
The other big concern of course was how to attract those people from out of the inns and the taverns in town to come to eat and drink at the Lady. I knew that Albertus would tell people in France or Spain in his ports of call- that might gain more sailors, perhaps, when they next hit Penzance. I had Ranulf who still maintained a connection at the Pelican, and he could tell those tin miners who came to spend their pennies to head out our way “because the ale is cheaper, mates!”
And I also hoped that the people of our own area would make the Lady a place of habit, when they ever felt the need for companionship and good company. Of course, there’s no telling what type of people would actually become our best patrons—yet. But we knew that men who were tired of the sea, and tired of the mines, might like a place with a good hearth and good food, and good wine and ale, and that the farmers and crofters living hereabout were thirsty for Mary’s ale, if they knew nothing of our victuals, but I did hope that amongst all the people who might come to the Lady, I might also attract the traveler, despite our not offering nightly lodgings, perhaps those who continued on across Penwith, or who were on their way south from Bristol, or who were headed East toward an place- that those who were in our neighborhood, whoever they were, would find the Lady a place worth telling their friends thereof.
The other concerns I had were, of course, maintaining my merchant connections, and steady supply of that which we would cook, and having enough customers to sustain it all. What good would it have been that we had taken the gold from Anselm to create a place such as this, if the place was not to be something which gave all a good return on the investment? It was elementary.
I thought, and it was a glad one, that I also could count on Stephen to speak of our place while back in Chester. I knew that having him speak on it would gain the attention of those whom he knew in Bristol and Exeter, for example, would get us a little business. And that by sending Wilmot to Bristol, and those other spots, also would do us well.
I had scheduled the opening for the afternoon of May Day. I knew that most people would be well away, jiving themselves at the Marazion and Penzance town May celebrations, but also that they would be on their way back, and that would be a good time to catch many, as a spider rests in the web waiting for the flies to show up, since they usually always do.
I had made up our sign for the outside- of course, it had not been my handiwork, but that of Wilmot’s, but it did have a fair presentation of the Lady Devonside as she was in the little portrait which hung in our hallway, and it did have another sign which I planted, in the ground, near the front door- “We Have a Real Pelican!” I knew that would at least get a small amount of attention, if not the affection of Squire Alstair who owned the Pelican Inn in town. Since I had played for him I knew he might think well on me, however, now we were both in the same business, and accordingly, so must compete. If we could not get Scupper up to the front of the tavern to show himself off, at least, if people asked, we could point him outside, at the right time of day, on the back stairs.
I knew we would need to find a proper cook within our first month- Mary had the business of brewing to bother herself with, I myself needed to manage the tavern and keep on top of our suppliers and accounts, and we could not use Wilmot for when he returned from his little trip to Bristol and places east he would return to Clarence. Of course Clarence would be around to help, but his work would be more like my own, overall. I decided it would be best for my own time (meaning that in order to get an time for myself amidst all this hustle) I should hire a boy who might work the stables- to feed what horses there were, water them, groom them, and cart out the manure to the fields. I also needed a cart of my own, with which to bring back goods from town— like the ox-sides, the hogs, and the lambs from the butcher, the bushels and sacks from the costermen, whatever it was. Yes, it was surely true that my life grew more complicated by the hour! The more I considered what it needed, the more there was to ensure it might have, and the more moneys I would need to lay out. But this was all interesting for me. As the day of opening approached, people would stop outside the tavern, which was not open, but inquire anyway. It required that I put a new sign in the front window “Opening, May Day!” and hope for the best.
Moselles was excited that morning, and as he brought down baskets from the bakery to set, items in a rack upon the bar- he showed me his creations. There were small pies and tarts created with berries and peaches, there were cobblers and buns and rolls and butter biscuits. There was much he had made which would cost a man no more than a farthing, and these, we hoped might be washed down with our ale, but a farthing per glass. And the dishes were delightfully priced as well, so that both common folk and travelers would entertain themselves— a serving of roast hen, for instance, but a penny. A feasting group of four might dine on said hen for but tuppence. And Moselles could sell his buns and all for a farthing or less, even. He did, however reserve the right to refuse to dicker over something a day old and something fresh, with the choicer, of course, costing a bit more.
All in all though I was glad to have something new to live for.
The first chore was to buy the cart, and I found one in Newlyn I bought from a man for just four shillings. My first task for it was to gather hay- a large pile, actually, as much as I might load on the cart and take with me! This was stored next to the stable stall. As I said, we made room for five guest horses and Magdalene, and Jubb the pig. I kept the fresh hay covered until needed with several boards nailed into something of a box, with a cover over it. I then bought a larger water trough (amongst the other items I had called for from Bess the blacksmith) and like clockwork, I was there to bring the payment on the Friday I had promised. It cost us forty eight shillings to outfit the kitchen with all the utensils I had asked for, and the brewery with the large vats (and I also brought back casks from the cooper Burt. I made sure that each cask, bottle, pottle and flagon had been stamped with the burgesses’ seal). I bought oil for our cooking, and sacks of oats, barley, wheat and rye— enough now that we should also be able to malt as we chose. And lest I not forget but I got candles from Cocklenburg, whose shop stunk of sheep tallow and rank wool, and perhaps even whale oil. Six pounds of candles cost me nine shillings, but I had enough for a few months, perhaps, if all went well and we could snuff them on closing up. It would be a good thing I did not need to visit him so often, for the smell drove me right out of the place as soon as I could go.
Mary’s brewing in fact, we had begun in earnest before the Lady was even open herself. She now had some eight regular locals who would come to have their own ale-kegs filled weekly, and these were then one pound two shillings to us guaranteed each week. The aletasters came by when the first batch was done and pronounced it all fine. The best ale was simply enough to cause them to pause, and state that it was, indeed, good and wholesome. The women of our side of Penzance would stand around the back door, gape at Scupper the pelican, who would strut back and forth knowingly, a glutton for attention was he. The oysterman came by on the morning before the opening day, and left me with a big keg full of fresh oysters and mussels. This would go into our first big stew, and along with that, many of things which I had brought from the costermen of Penzance— turnips and carrots and celery, the most of it.
All these dishes for eating we worked on ourselves for that first week, Mary and I. But we did not meet our cook until we were well into the first week. On him I shall speak a bit more later- I must tell you of our grand opening day, and how festive it was, and who was there, and what all took place.
May Day was fair day in the town, of course, and most of the local people had stayed on there until the afternoon, so there were few by my side at the beginning but Mary, Pamela, Clarence, and Wilmot. Anselm would be coming later on near the night-time, but we wanted to see what would happen and who would come all of our own setting up shop. “Open for Business” now read the sign, and our very first guest was a tinker man named Pinwickle who was traveling about and just wanted to know what the deuce was the fuss about. For there were now others gathering outside, talking with themselves and each other, that there should now be a tavern near the sea, and not so far into the town as they might not walk here.
Pinwickle carried all he needed on his sack much as I had when I began to work and walk the roads with Luisa. Only instead of a lute or instrument he carried a bellows, with which fanning up the flames on the mends he would make on the trays and pans he serviced, he would bring them into temperature range he might smelt and forge with. He carried an odd number of such items inside a pack over his shoulder, as well. These he might sell to someone in such a need, or he could use to melt down and do his tinkering and patching of the customer, at whose lodgings he had stopped.
Pinwickle was about the age of Abu, I guessed, and his curly hair was worn quite long, to his shoulders, and he wore a pointed hat which had a cloth band round about it, in which he had stuffed a sprig of mistletoe.
“A reminder of our Druidic past,” he remarked, as I asked him about it.
“Do you get many kisses?” I asked, most cheekily.
“Heavens but no! Why, who cares to kiss a ratty old tinker! Nay, it is but for the comments, such as yours. If I might I could tell you some stories...”
Such stories, however, were not on my mind. What I wanted were more seats filling so that our stew, and our good roasted hens, might find a catcher.
Ranulf came, with his pipes, and I promised that we would, indeed play at some point on our great opening. But that was yet hours ahead! In the meantime, Ranulf was welcome either to play on his own, or to sit with a bottle of ale. He opted to play.
At first, he played to the empty room, and Pinwickle, and to Pamela, hopping in and out with a number of Mary’s errands. But round about the hour of three began to trickle in people coming back from Penzance and the May Day Fair. A couple of young lovers, not a lot younger than Mary and myself, came in, and danced to Ranulf’s pipe. He winked toward me, and the young pair danced with a delightful abandon. When he ended that tune they collapsed on benches at a table, and Pamela waited on them with a pitcher of cold water, and they asked for a mug of ale.
The girl (I heard her remarking, rather low, but it was my job to listen out for these things) said this was an excellent ale, such as she had not tasted since her childhood, and I knew we had a hit.
The next group who came in were some older folk, three women and two men, who seemed to be attached to Anselm, and who for certes had been at the Christmas feast he had held. Now that it was Whitsuntide their main work would be in shearing the sheep and in planting gardens.
They ordered a goose to split between themselves. A roast goose, which we did have, that Mary had chased down but hours before, running own the road, loose, from who knows whose manor or farm, but it was fair caught, and now, he was someone’s dinner.
Ranulf played and the group of men and women laughed and joked, yet, did not dance.
Then came in a group of riders, and I was hard put by to take all of their horses and hay them myself, for as yet I still had no hay lad. I had considered Garthson, it being such a simple task that I knew him well suited to, but I also knew he had come as part of Stephen’s party, and that they were going to be needed at the manor.
Stephen and Anselm both I expected soon, along with Clarence. But that would come a bit later, as eveningtide drew nigh. Now it was yet middle of afternoon, and I could not allow the good gentlemen to wait, and so I had gone ahead and stabled and hayed and watered them myself. They were good horses, and easily kept.
The gentlemen each wanted some honest meat, one wanted hen, one wanted fish, one pork, the other lamb. I found all four of our specialties in need all at once, and passed to Mary the orders. Within the hour they were all served, and were gabbing themselves about how nice “this little place” was, a “far cry from the crowded dusty Penzance mills” and “fair to look upon the sea, and a pleasant view of the Mount.”
Ranulf played on. More young people, and more older country folk, and by the hour of five, now I had a fair crew of forty at table, all merrily chattering, or dancing to the piper, and coin was dropping in my till as I had hoped, and more, indeed, than I had expected for a first day.
The first of my friends to show of course was Stephen, he and his manor haywains all got up fancy, a sprig of spring heather in his belt, a feather in his cap. Stephen wanted ale, and so did the men.
“You are most certainly the more talented of the two of us, Julian. I fain I would love to hear your lute again, this evening. Sing us a song as which we have not heard, would you?”
“Stephen, to do that I must take my leave. I shall return within a quarter hour.”
Leaving though the back door at the kitchen I came in to the kitchen of our own section of the house, and made my way to my music room. Luisa sat today not in her usual spot (on the all of the front hall) but, leaned up against my chair in the music room, by the desk. I looked about the room, and out the window, toward the sea and the Mount. It was a wonderful thing for my soul. For here, now, just as I had done before we left on our trip, I lost myself a few minutes in thinking thoughts of gratitude that all I had sought to see happen for myself, indeed, all of it had come true! I was respected by those of my own age, I was a man of my own.
“No man is the boss of me!” I recall in my arrogance crying, at Porcull (who to me, at the moment I first saw him was just some daft old man), at the King’s knight at the battle of Shrewsbury, who tried to take me from my perch of safety by hammering me to smithers with his mace, and what words I was prepared even yet to throw at anyone— anyone— who wanted me to be kind and civil and more than I meant to offer in the way of his favor, to be done with for all my goodness just to meet his own glory. I reflected on Anselm, and how perhaps I could be considered a sort of servant to him, he who was my landlord, whom I owed a yearly rent, and to whom my wife had pledged a yearly tithed keg of best ale, and who had funded well my earnest venture.
But I also knew Anselm thought good of me and that had he not, I should not have found such fortune. And so my new life was beginning, a life of stability, of homeland, of marriage, of making new out of nothingness.
Next of my expected guests to show were Clarence and Wilmot. They had walked up from Mousehole in a very happy mood, and Clarence had even brought a drum along. Wilmot carried a vielle, and this he sawed upon rather recklessly (if not without a good sense of tune) and they joined me for my next song, which was a part of the song I had learned from Abu while we were at Harfleur, a tune old already, by Guillem of Occitan. I only remembered one verse, though, but, that was enough to set Clarence off rattling with a half-mad smile on his lips.
Wilmot seemed to have drawn the attention of one of the country girls, who had arrived with two friends, and who left both at the table to sit near his feet as he played his vielle. I could see something in her eye. A bit later I noticed the same awakening in his eye, and then, sat back smiling as the two of them fell into what seemed an enchanted trance with each other.
“Clarence,” I smiled to him “Look at those two. What do you make of that?”
“I make of it that my apprentice has found some type prenticed to his own musical magic! Tis merry, Stephen. Say, let’s go on with out him, and leave them to their youthful follies.”
“Right,” I agreed, and Clarence and I began playing our favorite of the Christmas feast tunes, the Tempus Adest Floridum. Ranulf played as well. The familiar tune brought many of the eating patrons to their feet, raising their voices in song together.
Tempus adest floridum, surgunt namque flores
vernales mox; in omnibus immutantur mores.
Hoc, quod frigus laeserat, reparant calores;
Cernimus hoc fieri per multos colores.
Sprata plena floribus, in quibus nos ludamus!
Virgines cum clericis simul procedamus,
Per amorem Veneris ludum faciamus,
eteris virginibus ut hoc referamus!
O dilecta domina, cur sic alienaris?
An nescis, o carissima, quod sic adamaris?
Si tu esses Helena, vellem esse Paris!
Tamen potest fieri noster amor talis
It was indeed fair merry! And joyful. I was even gladder when Mary took herself away from the kitchen, all the guests having been served, and sat nearby me, and the look in her own eyes for me was seemingly same to the look Wilmot’s girl threw to him. I answered it back with great gusto, and leaned over and kissed her. This, indeed, brought even more cheers from the guests, who were happily now calling out for more drink. Poor Pamela! For it was all she could do running back and forth to the kitchen to fill their cups!
But soon their noisiness dimmed down, and I calmed them all with a piece which I had come up with while on Barcelona riding over to France. I do not know why, but then, this seemed to be the cue exactly for Albertus! Who strode in with Regulus and Chelmswadd, the sailors ever looking for sailor thrills.
Mary excused herself and went to him.
“Captain! I am honored of you to come to our opening day! Fair sit ye down, and have a cup of cheer! What be your pleasure? Ale, cider, perry?”
“My good Mrs. Plectrum. Would you be so kind as to draw each of us a tankard of cider? We are ready to heave away in the morning heading back to France, to fetch, of course, more wine for your husband’s stock. We wanted to see this place ere we left. It will be fine to be done with old Alstair and the Pelican!”
“We welcome you any time you come to port, captain. I shall return.”
Mary headed off and was gone. In her place, Pamela returned with their ciders, and Mary was gone a bit longer. While she was, however, I had my next “surprise” visitor (whom of course I had been long expecting)- Lord Anselm himself!
And he was not alone. Along with him came the tin merchant who had given Clarence grief over our “King Arthur” at Christmas. They gave each other wide berth, although Clarence kept close by to me with my lute. The guests seemed to take on more of a hush as one by one they recognized Anselm, as if his fame had preceded him, and all were in a kind of thrall— though not like Wilmot and his blushing beauty were in a thrall to each other. Indeed, they paid absolutely no heed to Anselm, though they sat but six feet away from him.
It was as if the crowd all expected Anselm to give a speech. Which, of course, he did give, although it was, for him, more a matter like a chore to be done with than it being something he really wanted to do. But plainly, they were expecting one, and so, he was bound not to disappoint them.
So quite beside himself with some hidden manner of annoyance, Anselm rose up and stood at full height, clanking a tankard on the table just to shush their whispering clamor and rumor.
“Welcome, welcome, good people, some of you my vassals, and some of you obviously not.
“I have come to this, the opening eve of the Fallen Lady! A fair establishment of eat and drink, the proprietor of which, Julian Plectrum here, he with the lute you have been dancing to, is a fond subject of mine, and should be, to all of you, a good friend. Stephen is late from Chester, north in Cheshire, wherefrom he hails, and has come to live here at Penwith Bay, to get himself a new mode of living. Do be good patrons, and bother him not nor cheat him nor do him any mischief, for I know he means to keep this tavern a place of decent reputation, and to make of it a place for our good people which may be known as something different than you should find in Penzance town. Here you will find good victuals, always fresh, and good strong ale, which has not been watered! Made by the proprietress, fair lady Mary, who is also Julian’s wife. And I came here to honor him, and to honor you, the good people of Penwith, Newlyn, Penzance, and Mousehole! I bid you all now, give us leave that we may have our own amusements, as we have much to discuss with our proprietor here, and much we would wish to keep in our own counsel.”
And they applauded him, and he sat, and they left him alone, for his words were always like gold to them, and they were in turn, rather easily satisfied in like.
I then took my lute and gave them all a new song.
“Caernarfon and Carmarthen rose
to hear of Glyndwr’s men
And there is Henry riding tall
the fair young prince well feared by all
Hie thee to the castle’s walls!
straighten’d and stout as the arrow falls!
Run good people! run and hide!
But your freedom will be found outside.
Here our “Prince of Wales” returns
yet he plays as Cardiff burns
The mines of Rhymney do besides
as tin men roam the countrysides
Cry for Cymru, she quakes beneath
Plow and sword and iron shod feet
Cry for Cornwall, and her tin
That miners might bake their own bread again”
With Clarence pounding in rhythm on the drum, my song took on a spirit that—if not have people dancing, it did have some humming along, or staring on me, in near disbelief.
“I don’t think that would be too wise you sang it again, Julian,” claimed Anselm. “The king has many eyes, and some not so ill-placed as to overlook a minstrel’s amusing song.”
I took that to mean that he was not well-pleased, and the tin man from the Christmas feast leaned over and said something to him. At that, Anselm nodded.
“Yes, Julian, your protest is heard. But there are new issues facing us. Did you know that, as you were out in France, that the French landed troops in Wales, and that they made a raid at Caernarfon? Did you also not know that Glyndwyr has taken Conwy, Harlech, and Aberystwyth? In fact, as Henry gears up for a new campaign in spring, I myself have been called to arms by him. It might be news to you but he is still my own liege, to whom I owe fief and place, and the mustering of a hundred men-at-arms to join his army. Oh, look on me with pity. You know I feel there is some sympathy between your Cheshire cause, Wales, and we of Penwith and Cornwall. But know that there is really no other authority on which we base our own but for the whim and pleasure of the king, whether or not we agree of how he came about that crown. I would only ask this as a favor for you. But I still need to call a hundred.”
“My lord Anselm, if it please you, I should hope that in that event I might pay...”
“Pay for scutage? But yes, I shall accept it, Julian. Know that, you are not the type of man whom I should choose to bear arms for me, besides. Take that not as an insult. I just know you are not the type of man to find glory nor your treasure nor destiny nor even any small happiness in making war. War is a game for another type of man— one of whom there are always plenty. And I yet have few like you. And the fee for scutage is but three marks.”
Three marks! One pound, seventeen shillings! I could easily do it, and it would hardly dint my chest any, the loss. But in a way I was very glad. I could be spared more scenes like the one at Shrewsbury, and pain of death before my time, at least, I hoped, if fate had no other plans for me.
“Anyway, Julian, I came here to entertain myself and be entertained, to see you on your ways and add my grace and blessing to the place. You have done a fine job, with this additional large room to the house. And my horses, I have seen, are well cared for.”
“That I will attempt to keep up. I must find a cook, and do it this week, and a stable boy, that it not all fall on me.”
“There are boys with little else to do enough, up at Trewidden. I can think of one or two whom might easily fill your bill for a currier. As for the cook? I am afraid I am unsure. If I might have one I can spare, perhaps they would agree to join you. But that then is up to them. You do intend to pay a cook’s fair wage?”
“Then I will add that to my message. I will call all the cooks of the hall and speak to them, and ask if any are so displeased as they should wish to leave my service, with no questions asked, in order to come cook for you.”
“Much gracious, sire.”
“Now do, go on about as though I am not here, and give yourself to the song, again, lad. I shall dine with Aleuderius here and eat of your good beef.”
“There is one other request, Lord Anselm.”
“Our need for wine. It was suggested by Elric Beres when I was buying our supplies, that you might spare some from your hall. Until our sea captain returns from his new voyage on which he leaves in the morning, we will have only ale and cider and perry. But no wine. It could be months.”
“I will see about having a couple of kegs sent down, then. Consider it a loss to you of but a fraction from the loan. I do want to see you prosper. What good taverner neglects his guests the joy of wine? It shall be done.”
I turned back to Luisa and decided to give all one last long song. This would be my Lay of Ulysses. It had long been a crowd pleaser.
While I sang and played, Albertus came to sit with Anselm and the tin merchant, Aleuderus Burian. I knew not what they were discussing, but perhaps it could be passage for the merchant himself, or his goods, across to Harfleur or Calais or Brest. I did notice that money changed hands. For now I had no suspicions, it did seem that they had normal business to discuss, and there was little need to have concerns. It would only be later in the year that I began to have grave doubts about Squire Burian.
But this was yet a happy occasion for me. Albertus joined with Anselm and Aleuderis at table. I made sure that there was fare brought to them from the kitchen, but soon, they were near ignoring me, and in their own discussion. Something about the cost of shipping tin across to Harfleur with the troubles coming on. Albertus made it clear to Aleuderis that there would be no change in his charges, even with the risk, for he had still an excellent relation to the harbormasters and customs men of Harfleur, and there would be little cause for him to raise his prices, even if Aleuderis was raising his own price for his smelted tin ingots. In the event of another war it would probably be Henry who’d become his first customer anyway, and it might be a while before he could ship at will across the channel.
As I said, Clarence stayed well away from the tin merchant, but when I took up the lute again Clarence flailed at his drum with some kind of mind to put a weevil in the miner’s ear. It was not long before the miner departed, anyway, and Anselm and Albertus continued their meal, now speaking of the wine situation.
“It would seem now I am a middleman to both of you” he said, meaning me and the Baron, and so when I return next I should be piled down with wine barrels!” His laughter was infectious though and of good heart. Anselm would get his wine, and so would I, and in fact at the moment it was me who was charged with a little impatience hoping that Albertus could begin his journey, and soon! But of course, he was leaving in the morning, and my turn of thought was hardly generous in that regard.
As it was getting on late in hours now, I noticed many of the folk who had come in the “May Day crush” as I called it had packed up and gone home. But there was someone I did not notice come in, who was sitting alone at a back table, drinking her ale and looking forlorn. This was Bess Farber the smithy, and she was wrapped in a large shawl, and had her feet up on another empty bench. I made leave of the stage and came to her.
“I am glad you could come, my good blacksmith. are you enjoying our tavern?”
“I am suffering, young man. Suffering the pains of an old widow, and so when you say “enjoy” I must tell you I am fair enjoyed of, enough, I only seek some company.”
“There are plenty of men about, here, Bess...”
“Ach!” she blanched. “Yes, men about, but all of them half the age of me, and if there were one of my own type he would be broken down and beetle browed. No, I find no company, as yet. Perhaps on some other night. And you yourself, you are married, so what chance would I have of you, even though you are a friendly sort, even. Ach, this is a fair tavern, yes, but hardly the place for an old lady...”
I hardly knew what to say, if she were right, or wrong, and that there were no men in the place willing to sit with her and spend a penny on drink and meat with her, then that would be her lot. I wished her well and she bade the same for me. When it came time for us to close and send all our guests out into the night, Bess was still there, and her wan expression stuck an impression in my mind I was hard to be rid of, even if we had had an excellent evening for a first day.
Baron Anselm made his way out of the place about an hour before we closed, and Albertus left almost the last man, but for Ranulf and Clarence, who while leaving together were headed in separate directions. I bade each of them farewell and that I hoped they should all return soon. And all in their turn said, yes, they’d certainly be doing it.
Inside, I helped Mary and Pamela to send the other guests gently home, after giving them all one last song, the Lay of the False Fox.
This has many verses and I only repeat them here that you might yourselves one day take them up. The refrain follows each couplet.
“The false fox came to our croft
and so our geese full fast he sought
with how, fox, how, and hey, fox, hey
come no more to bear our geese away!
...the false fox came unto our stye
and took our geese there by and by...
...the false fox came into our yard
and there he made the geese afeared
....the false fox came unto our gate
and took our geese there where they sat
...the false fox came to our hall door
and shrove our geese there on the floor
...the false fox came into our hall
absolved our geese both great and small
...the false fox came unto our coop
and there he made our geese to stoop
...He took a goose fast by the neck
and then the goose began to queck
...the goodwife came out in her smock
and at the fox she threw her rock
...the goodman came out with his flail
and smote the fox upon the tail
...He threw a goose upon his back
and forth he went then with his pack
...the goodman swore if that he might
he would him slay ere it were night
...the false fox went into his den
and there he was full merry then
...he came again the very next week
and took away both hen and chick
...the goodman said unto his wife
“the false fox liveth a merry life”
...the false fox came upon a day
and with our geese he made affray
...he took a goose fast by the neck
and made that goose say “whetumqueck!”
...I pray thee fox she did entreat
Take of my feathers but not of my feet!
with how, fox, how, and hey, fox, hey
come no more to bear our geese away!”
I hoped that they all left happy, and they were all quite merry, if sad that the night had come to a close. Each of them I thanked on their way out, and told them they were welcome back any time they chose. So long as they had the money for the fare, they would be welcome.
Bess Farber said she hoped I would do well by this venture “and that you keep this a place of good fellowship!” Most likely, hoping that the Fallen Lady might not become a haven of her namesakes. I would have little control over that. But as for a start, it seemed all quite good.
We finished our night by boiling a tub of water, and tossing in all the mugs and tankards, and boiling them clean, and setting them out to dry. Moselles had already begun working upstairs in his bakery, we could hear him sliding loaves in and out of the oven, and we were all well set to go to bed. Pamela slept in our living room, again, for the moment too exhausted to return to town, though I told her she had leave to go earlier on our second day, and the rest of the week. When Mary and I finally closed up the tavern and locked its door, and made our way home to bed, we had both big smiles on our faces.
“Seems to me, Julian dear, this was as successful as we might have hoped. How much have we earned?”
I pulled the fat purse from my belt and poured out the contents on our desk. There was enough to make almost a half pound—eight shillings, in all!
“That’s good. We cannot expect that much each and every day, but no doubt, holidays could compare. Let us see how our week goes.” I was now just so tired and wishing only to lie down, for much of the night I had been on my feet, and Mary was in no different shape. So we slept, without any affection other than our surety of love and faith in each other and in The Provider, and when morning broke with the sound of the rooster in the next farm over I wearily rose, but soon excited myself. For now I had a new occupation!
The first thing I did was to put clean hay out and draw fresh water for the horses, then I fetched the new bread down from Moselles and Thangustella, who said they would both be stopping in today themselves for their supper. That was fine. At about ten in the morning, a man and a young lad who said they had been sent down from Anselm appeared in the front yard.
The man was a dark, swarthy Cornish gent who said he was leaving Anselm’s cookery.
“I am ready for a new turn of times for myself, squire. Anselm is a good lord to work for, but I am more in need of better compensation, and he has given me leave.”
Turning to the young lad, whom I assumed had been sent as the stable boy I was asking for, he was bashful and would only tell me his name, Will, and that he was from Penwith, and was but twelve, but he knew horses, and they did not scare him at all.
“Are you willing to accept three farthings a day?” I asked, for indeed, this was all I had intended to spare.
“Indeed, sire. It would beat the two farthings— ha’penny— I now receive.”
“Do you have lodging with Anselm?”
“That I do, sire.”
“The stables are over here...” I showed him, walking him over.
“There is room for five guests, plus my own horse, Magdalene, whom will stay part of the day in her stall, but each day should be taken out to ride, if not by me, then by you. The well stands over there (I pointed to the northeast corner of our front yard) and from that you fill their trough each day. Fresh hay can be found in the storage area of the stable, and you should ask each guest to pay tuppence for his horse to eat of it.Bring the pay to me when they have made it, for that will alert me to the arrival of a new guest. There is also a sack of oats we have bought to help when there is no hay— that is inside the back door to the kitchen. If you have trouble with gentlemen who are rough with you, or refuse to pay, you are to give me notice, and I shall deal with them. Now, Will, it would be a good thing for you to do, to meet my own horse, and make yourself a familiar. Let’s see to her. Sire Deprez, I will be back in a few minutes, but you are not forgotten.”
Deprez waited for me and Will and I went to Magdalene’s stall. She whinnied and nicked her ears back at his approach. He reached up to pet her on the forehead, and she was calmed. He too noticed the brand of Sir Boynton on her flank.
“It is alright, lad. I found her loose on a battlefield and she is all mine. She has a special blanket we use for her when we take her on long trips— the blanket is kept just inside our home’s back door, and you will find the saddle for her near the grange. Now, take her by the bridle, and walk her out, and get her used to your handling her.”
Will did so, and I watched with concern, but Magdalene waked right off with him, and I began to smile. He walked her back inside, and shut the stall.
“It looks like you will do well. You are at leave, then. We have a pitch for bowls here, perhaps you might amuse yourself with that?” I half asked. But Will sat right down on one of the benches at the wall, pulled out a stick, and began to whittle with his knife.
Deprez had been patiently waiting, so I led him into the kitchen. Pamela was already up, Mary not, but Pamela was seeing to the day’s ale service and pouring out measures into demijohns.
“This is Pamela, Pamela, this is Deprez. He will be our new cook, and seeing as he should take this day as his first day, please show him where everything is. We will open at noon.”
I gave them both leave, and went back into the house, where Mary slept in a tired state.
It was an hour before she rose and in that while, I once again counted the fare from the night before, and made sure I had correctly entered all the dishes we had cooked, the portions we had served, and estimated what I might need to replace that. This would be a daily process, fulfilled at the end of a week, and at the end of this one I still needed a trip to Penzance for supplies, of course. Later at my return I would ask more of Deprez, about his background, and more of his disaffinity with Anselm. But I was happy I had found, at least, a willing capable individual.
When I would have time of course I set aside a couple of hours in the early midday to sit at my desk and either write music, play at it, or work on my accounts. As it happened in those early weeks of the tavern opening we were actually gaining more than we put out. On those days (like the day after opening) where I was required to go to town (my biggest reason, every other day, was to acquire fresh fish) I would ride Magdalene, and on the days I did not, Will would ride her on the shingle strand, until she became used to it as a routine, and when she saw Will coming with her bridle, she knew it meant a run along the beach. When she saw me, she knew it meant a journey over land. I feel she got well used to this, for I did not need to spur her, she knew the way now, and I could sometimes just sit upon her strumming the lute, if I cared to take it.
Will was nothing like Wilmot. Wilmot, for one thing, had become so taken with the girl he had met (her name, we soon learned, was Clare) that he would find excuses to take leave of Clarence’s shop quite often, that he might spend time at courting her. Clarence, himself, thought little of this.
“I would rather he be doing this than some of the other mischief he might get up to. At least, when he is in the shop and we are building, he is asking questions. I have given him two projects to create all his own— a drum, and a viol. If he completes the viol well enough, I will ask him to create a lute- for I feel learning the construction of the shell is a bit more difficult. But once he has learned these two, the more complicated instruments will come easily. Soon, too, I shall set him on creating shwms and other reeds, and flutes. But he does not seem so fond of lathes as he does with frames and glue.”
I told Clarence that he (meaning Wilmot) should be going on his trip to Bristol, and gave him the names of the Bristol inkeepers he was to see. Then also he should go to Exeter, and there were names of others, there. Clarence said he would povide the funds that Wilmot would need fo his lodging. And a few days later, in fact, I learned that he had, indeed, taken leave and headed north.
Aleuderis Burian himself was on my mind. Ever since that first bad occasion between he and Clarence I had seen in him some manner of worry. To Baron Anselm, he was one of his best rentiers- providing hundreds of pounds yearly to Anselm and to the Royal Treasury. Who knows what kinds of loyalties he held, though, in actuality, to the King. When Anselm said there were “eyes of the King about” I had not thought that he meant some miner. But by Saint Werburgh, I thought, if the King had an interest in controlling Wales yet, he must, of course, have some manner of controlling Penwith and Cornwall. And as it would turn out, Aleuderis Burian was indeed that particular character, serving as both the eyes (and ears) of the King as well as a check on any possible shirk on Anselm’s part.
It seemed to me that Anselm was indeed in the same position as Robert Carpenter. That in order to continue in his prosperity, some deal with the devil had to have been made as his due. One of these pehaps, was to be as accomodating toward Aleuderis as possible. By pleasing him he would please the King. And the king was, as ever... only interested in rule, whether or not by Grace or of Fate pleasing God.
I found myself back at Trewidden in soon enough time, however, as a week had passed and no cask of wine came down my way as I had hoped. Anselm however, was quite apologetic, saying he forgot completely in the excitement and that all he had taken home in his memory was my need for the cook and stable hand.
“I am afraid your wife’s good ale took away the better part of my remembering,” he said. “And please thank her, I will appreciate her tithing toward our good faith that next year, You and your partners are welcome back.”
I mentioned to him that I had great fear for the coming war.
“But good Julian, it will not be taking place here at Cornwall, but in Wales.”
That was little to comfort me. I proceeded to tell him all about the past year— how Robert, my father in law, had been hard pressed to accept a huge bribe, in favor of his business, to create barrels for Henry. How Henry’s men had come to Richard’s manor and killed him while robbing the family of their wool, and barn animals. How Henry’s entire rule had been ruin for Cheshire, as black and dark as the years William the Bastard had sought to dominate her and bring her to heel.
“Let us keep all these words between us Julian. It would not be meet for me to criticize the king. Not meet at all. But know that I hear your complaint, and I will do all I can, to keep worse from taking part than already has befallen your lands. While you live under my protection, you are that, protected. Lest thy mouth betray your heart otherwise from hereon.As I said, agents of the king are everywhere, and you know not whom they are, though I must warn you I know of two— Burian and Lord De Courtenay.Of all the men of Cornwall you must beware, hold those two foremost. And make no impropieties in your song! For they will indeed, carry word elsewhere, and then I should myself need answers to how these ideas were first spread. Do you hear and understand?”
I nodded that I did, and it hurt my heart that I must now bear the cross of my home shire and all she had taken from the King and the Crown Prince, ever to suffer that in silence.
“I have been called to bring up my men at arms, a hundred, and to bring also footmen, and archers. There are some two hundred and fifty that have been mustered. Soon they will be gathered here, and soon they will take march, northward, and thence to Wales. I surely hope that in my absence nothing befalls you or the rest of your good crew, Julian. Best heed my advice, and keep your head low, and your mouth sealed from speech against Henry.”
Anselm was grim, but his words of caution also led me to feel despite my misgivings that he was inclined toward our favor yet, even if making it clear could have cost him more than just a seat with the king’s counsel.
On the morning of May 10, I watched the departure of Anselm and his men from Trewidden. I had come to see again about the wine, which, this time, I was received of. They rode out under the banner of Cornwall, a black flag bearing a white cross, and a shield with three ravens about it. The sunlight glinted off the pikes and spears of the footmen, and the armor of the men on horse. It was all to remind me of that morning at Shrewsbury when my brother Simon found his fate to be hacked at the hip, and I was threatened by the heaving knight and his mace. All bad memories, but these men had not seen the battle yet. They were on their way. They crossed out over the pathway and across the Coombe, and I watched as their little sparkling line grew yet smaller, making their way across the hills toward Bristol. Barring calamity or misfortune, it would yet be some months before I saw Anselm again. I spurred Magdalene home off the hill, and returned to the Fallen Lady.
HERE ENDS BOOK TWO OF JULIAN PLECTRUM
HERE ENDS BOOK TWO OF JULIAN PLECTRUM
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