Something felt wrong. I do not know what made me think it, really, although you could sense there was something out-of-sorts about the day... I went about the morning as usual, by calling out Will to take care of the horses and the stable, and by walking Panoptes along the strand. When I came back to the tavern, we had already opened, and Pamela was bustling about, with the trays of bread from upstairs all hot, and laying them out on shelves in our kitchen. There were not many guests yet, but I looked out in the hall and there were at least four men, weary looking, and obviously they had arrived from the war in Wales, for they wore mail, and two of them were bowmen, who had their weapons with them.
I greeted them with an offer of ale, which they accepted, then one asked if they could each have a loaf of bread, and surely so, I said, and brought them back both a large pitcher of ale and a loaf of bread for every one of them, Three farthings each, and they were satisfied.
But there was not one among them who seemed cheerful, and relieved to be let go from the battle. I asked them, for I could tell, there really was something wrong.
“Don’t you know? We are back from Wales. Our Baron Anselm is dead!”
Dead! The man to whom I owed my loyalty, my rents, and the entire beginning of my venture here- dead!
“Quite so, sire.” He did not speak any more, but he bit off his bread, and chewed bitterly.
“How then did this happen?”
“It was two weeks ago at the battle of Stalling Down. Anselm was leading a party to charge on the Welsh, but he took an arrow in the cheek, and another in the neck, and then one to his chest. It was terrible. He lived but a few minutes, before he coughed up lung and died. Right there amongst the host of us.”
“Anselm did fall, and at such a price! Prince Henry has released us from his service to return home. We marched through Cardiff to the jeers of the Welsh villein. And Trewidden will now be another home for Lord De Courtenay. This was also granted by the Prince, as Anselm left no wife nor child to whom it can pass. As De Courtenay rules Cornwall, so he shall now take Trewidden.”
He saw the look on my face, and grimly patted me on the shoulder.
“I know this is hard to take, lad. But These things do happen in war.”
I could hardly think of what to do. My first thought was to close the tavern for the day, but then, I would lose any business, and this would not be a good idea. The most I might do for now would be to hang Anselm’s coat of arms from a prominent place on the wall.
“Do not be surprised, then, sire, if Lord De Courtenay himself comes to this place to sup. He will be traveling back from Wales soon, and overseeing the changes to the castle. And he will bring man in his train that will also eat here. Business will be good for you.”
This was hardly any consolation. My good friend Anselm, dead! For that was how I thought of him, now. I needed to get my mind around this, and it was hard. In the last year then I had lost to war the most favorable adults in my life, my benefactors, Richard Stephen’s father, and Anselm, my patron and landlord. I would have to tell Mary. I would need to tell the entire group of my employees, and Clarence and Ranulf, too.
The men continued to munch on their loaves, drank from their pitcher, and then they asked for a chicken, spitted, that they could share among themselves. I nodded, and went back into the kitchen.
Pamela was fixing a large tub of salad, when I came through the door. She saw the look in my eyes, she must have, for all she said was “What is wrong, Julian?.”
“Pamela, it is terrible, the Baron Anselm is dead. He was killed in Wales. He will only be coming back to Trewidden to be buried. The castle has now passed to Lord De Courtenay.”
This news took her aback as well. There was a pause, a silence, and into it, Mary walked.
“Julian, what ever is wrong?” she asked “I can see it in your eyes. You never are like this, unless something is wrong.”
“Mary, Anselm is dead. He died in Wales a fortnight ago.”
She brought her hand to her mouth in an expression of shock, and began to cry.
“That is truly hard.”
“Anselm was one of the few men here we could trust. Even as he fought Henry he kept an ear out for us and the cause. Now De Courtenay will have Trewidden. The dregs who rule the castle will now be our new landlords. And we must now be oh so careful about our speech! Even more than we were before.”
“Julian, now what? I had the ale ready for Anselm, we were going to bring it up to him in two more days.”
“I think for now, we can ignore the order for the castle. And until De Courtenay comes to call on us, let us just continue on, as though the castle and Anselm are no longer there. For they aren’t, any longer, for us to consider as any kind of refuge.”
Now Pamela and Mary were both crying. I had never been in the presence of crying women before, so I hardly knew what to do. Instead, I told Pamela to see to the chicken for the soldiers, and Mary and I went out to the bowling lawn with the dog, to sit on the bench. She held my hand and fought back her tears.
I did not know what I could do, but in my sorrow, when it came to the end of the evening, I took Wilmot aside, and had Ranulf beside me as well, and we played a dirge meant in memory of Baron Anselm. Wilmot’s vielle sobbed long, drawn out cries while Ranulf’s pipes evoked what I felt was maybe the very spirit of Anselm himself, beside us. Perhaps he was there, as we played for our pain and grief, and the people who sat at the tables all were silent while we played, obviously thinking of what they had lost as well.
For what we had lost was not only our lord and liege, and someone who kept our faith and secrets, but we had all lost a friend, someone who had used his power with care, and wisely, who had ruled kindly and well, and had never given cause for any of us to hate nor despise him, for he had been fair and evenhanded, and nothing like the new men who now took his place. If there were such a thing as a scourge by brimstone, it would be fair to say, I felt, that the people listening to us as we played would have preferred Trewidden be burnt to ash with it, than to know it had fallen to the hands of such cruel despots. But that was how things truly were, and when we finished, all three of us had tears in our eyes, so did many of the people, and they called out a hearty “three cheers for our late Baron, Anselm of Newlyn! May his memory live long beyond him!”
Mary and I had an afternoon to ourselves, at long last. With Clarence, Wilmot, Pamela and Deprez taking care of the tavern, we decide to make our own day out of it, and made preparation to have our afternoon supper in a refreshing way.
Mary put all the ingredients for our meal into a large basket she covered with a light cloth. There was bread, cheese, half a hen well-roasted, there were pickled beets and strawberries and a small jug of wine, which we would both share. There was a place I knew— up on the heath before the Glen of Trewidden— which was grassy, and not grazed nor plowed, but wild as the ancient hills, and from this spot we might overlook all of Newlyn, Penzance to our left, the sea, the Mount, and of course, we had an eye to our own cypress tree line, and how it led to the beach.
I held her in my arms and told her how I felt very happy we would be a family.
“At long last, we will need to think of more than ourselves,” she reminded me.
“Oh, it has been a while since I even gave myself much thought,” I answered. “It has been difficult making our idea for the tavern work. That has taken so much of my attention, I have probably failed people like Ranulf in remembering they need to eat too. It has been horrible what we have seen the castle become while Anselm has been away. And it is sometimes frustrating just getting the things I need from the shops or the market fair. But we have done fair.”
“I think we should have to do better.”
“I feel I should by certes do better, toward those who are my friends. But we give Stephen our money for honey, we give Albertus money for wine, we help Wilmot and Jack of Rowe and others like them (and Ranulf) someplace they might make some coin. Soon we shall have one more mouth to feed, and they will answer us with no fair amount of noise, if we cannot deliver. But one day... one day, those new little hands will be along here to help us as well.”
“So I know, yes, Julian, so I know. Listen, I have no doubt we will succeed. We are succeeding, are we not? And each week we hear new tales of people that tell us how far and wide our place is become known. I am glad for this. Aren’t you?”
“True, it makes me smile. But only when those that tell it make it a point to come back.”
“I feel for Stephen and Roger. Now that they have left again for France, one hopes their trips will be assured of safety. Now that the French are stirred against England, Albertus may have an even harder time than he did in the spring, being assured of a port, or of any sort of landing.”
“Well Albertus did bring us that good wine. Did you know, Julian, there is much wine which was taken at sea by English raiders, and that in Dartmouth they have been selling it at a huge profit?”
“I had not heard that.”
“Well, this is something my friends have told me. And we could have some of that, if you were...”
“No, I have already sealed my deals with Albertus, he will be my main supply, now that we cannot count on Anselm, and that the castle has all but locked up their stores.”
“It is said that at the castle, they have brought some of that captured French wine too, and it is a glut upon them.”
“Much is a glut upon them, This I would not be surprised to hear. And anyway, they have allies on that side of the Lizard, even if they do not have many here.”
The dippers were singing in the trees, and our little shady spot had begun to catch more of the direct light from the sun, but between cups of wine and bites of food, Mary made me feel back where we were when younger in Cheshire a year or two ago, when we had rolled ourselves silly in the hayfields of May, and all was radiant about her, as though she not only carried my child, but a secret of the universe inside her. I was grateful for those moments, whenever I might find them, for those were the moments when I was assured by my soul that time is endless and wherever we are in our lives, there is so much more beyond ourselves and yet we are that as well, there is never a need to feel real fear, when you have this peace of God. And that we too were part of this great chain of being stretching out beyond us into the lives of our children and theirs, and that all things were as they should be, and there was naught to argue, but for the inconveniences of men.
That was my state of mind. As the sun grew hotter we moved closer toward the trees and the shade, and our dog Panoptes sat panting beside us. I put my attention upon him, and tossed to him a stick, and he made a game out of going to catch it, further and further away each time.
And we lay there talking, the sky above Cornwall quite blue, empty of cloud, bees buzzing in the tall clover, jack-in-the-pulpits winking purple and green at us, the high grass—waist high where we yet had to tamp it down. In our basket the meal she had made up for us.
Mary’s kiss brought me to my senses, an refreshed it, again and again. For now, a few hours at least, I was no longer “Julian of the Fallen Lady,” but traveling minstrel Julian in my Chester-dress holding the Queen of the May in my arms, her kiss soft, sweet, wet, and fulfilling.
It were not long ‘afore the desire within us both caught flame, burst forth, and we sweating couple together upon the blanket we had brought. Conclusion gave us both another chance to begin whatever conversation we’d neglected. But there was no need to talk.
It was only a man and his wife, lying beside each other on a hot summer’s day. The calls of a heron could be heard echoing up from the glen, and of course the dippers, clappers, and divers, all the water birds raucous and declaring the bounty of River Coombe as their own.
“Was Deftwulf of Ravenglass really a French spy?” was the first thing Mary asked me, when she had at last recovered the mood of speaking.
“Was he? I never asked.”
“Ranulf thought he was.”
“So he told me. Even if he was, I have made up my mind— I shall have no part in anyone’s troubles. Even if it be on behalf of our cause! I have lost my dear friend, again. It hurts me sore. And what if he were a spy, and Aleuderis too, and what if Clarence, Wilmot, Claire, and even Pamela- what if all of our friends were spies? It matters not a whit to me! For all I wish to do is keep on loving you, dear Mary. Our love surpasses what is here of this world— which hangs like dross upon the great tapestry of the Master Weaver. All the struggle of this world! It’s just—it’s just not real, though we do our best to convince ourselves. And then, we finally die of it. No, the weave of he Master Weaver is not really of this life. You miss the pattern by seeking the warp and woof alone.”
“Sometimes, Julian, you astound me. I never think of such things!”
“I know it. But that is something I like about you, since you concern yourself with what is important to the two of us, while I— I guess sometimes all that consumes me are things outside what most people think are important. Just, sometimes, I feel I nee a break from worry, and I like to remember we’re not put here to worry, but to love, and live!”
“More deep waters from my complicated husband” She laughed, and came closer to me.
“All the better for my appreciation of you.”
Again we were lost in each other’s kisses, for a time.
When the sun was halfway to the sea, we gathered everything and returned home.
Moselles stood at the top of the stair, a reminder that “the real world” still existed.
“Julian! Good day! Listen! I have some good news for you! Remember when the Devons said they were requiring us to send them food?”
I did recall, and thought it quite strange they had never but sent us an order even once. Instead, they had come down upon me like locusts to punish me for my song, and the “crimes” of young Wilmot. Anyway, could Moselles have to say I wondered.
“Well, what about it?”
“They have let me know they will buy all my hot cross buns this week! Buy them!”
“What will it mean to our profits?”
“It should bring us at least pair of tuppence.”
“And they said they would pay us?”
“Yes, yes! That Beaufort fellow. I took his bond, he’s ordered three baker’s dozens! Zat is usually vut ve lay out in a veek! And he offered down payment of three farthings, and said ze rest will come- on delivairy!”
Well, I knew what that meant. Saddle Magdalene and store the buns in a hamper and ride to the castle... and speak to them. I did not relish these thoughts. And this really wasn’t that much to get all excited about. I sensed, rather, Moselles was trying to tell me something about how the castle men were... softening toward me.
Moselles disappeared back into his bakery, and I ducked into the kitchen through the back way.
We put aside our worries, for there was always the tavern, more a barrel of monkeys than ever when we returned there, what with the singing of Wilmot in his quavering voice, and the slamming of cups and plates on tables, the shouts of diners, the hustle of Pamela and Deprez to keep up with their demands. I took over the seat by the hearth from Wilmot, and sang:
“I own my sock, I own my soul
I own everything in my control
Hole in my sock, hole in the coal
You best not meet up with me when I’m on the troll
A basket here and a casket there
And of your own acts, may you despair
I have blown my fortune on kingdom come
my life a tale most venturesome
you never met a man like me
I’m fleet an heat and bound for Picardy
I work all night with a bottle in my hand
My geese and pen are at my own command!
Let’s eat our meat and drink our wine
While on the world it’s ours to dine
meat and wine, mud and clay
We’ll all meet there on Judgment Day!”
And in the morning I took Magdalene for her ride, and Panoptes for his run alongside, and I ended up again looking out to sea over the south toward France, the France I had seen and now remembered, even as Saint Michel’s Mount remained a blur at the edge of my eye.
I paused there to rethink- quite unlike yesterday, when I had felt so pure and part of everything that a star might have fallen and I should never have paid any mind, it was the remembrance of my friends no longer with me that I considered. Richard, Stephen’s father, perhaps the first of all my benefactor if I discount Porcull, killed by a pair of knights intent on robbing him at sword point. Anselm, my worthy patron, perhaps the most just of men, if Richard had been the kindest, laid low by an arrow in the heat of battle. Why should it be that the best, the kindest, the most just, should all be laid down by those so unworthy of ever being so described, and why take them away from those of us who need the help, the kindnesses, the good decisions, the fair treatment? Why were we again yet under the wheel of the unworthy, the plain, the mediocre, the powerful with an eye to more power? I had no answer for this, for it seemed this was separate and apart from the answers that I felt I had been party to on the afternoon just passed.
I felt for Wales, for I knew without any doubt the rebellion despite the French, would fail. Without Anselm, even those of us far from home, we from Cheshire, exiled here in Cornwall, would hardly have much chance to see a free Cheshire, apart form the “Prince of Wales,” that title so self-amended and added to that of the Crown Prince of England. And I knew there would come a time, perhaps, even when Owain Glyndwyr in his glory could not overcome the strength of all the nobility of Britain arrayed against him, and that there would be no end to the derision, and the division, of the people of Wales from the language and the errors of the Crown. A dream, a fleeting dream, a great dream, but a dream no less. So it was, and the waves washed the sands, and I turned back for home, my heart a burden of care.
From the History of Pamela of Chester: The Failure of the Rebellion
My winter of 1404 had some desperation. News came to us of the death of the good Baron Anselm: Now it would be so that the castle Trewydden would revert into the very hands of the men who had been oppressing the nearby Cornish- not only that, but De Courtenay would now become our good Julian’s landlord—very likely the rent on Julian’s house, as well as the tax he would pay on his tavern, would rise, as well, it was quite likely that the new castle tenants would raise the stakes of the voluntarily tithe my friend Mary paid them in ale. In the midst of this, we learned Mary was pregnant, and she would, the next year, give birth to a little girl, whom she and Julian named Aslaine. But before she was born, the war in Wales took a very dark turn.
Owain Glyndwyr had won a precious victory in the very battle which took the life of Anselm, Stalling Down. But it was not followed up with more of the same. Indeed. While Julian himself spoke to me that now he felt sure the cause could not be won, King Henry next won two more victories which would, in time, be seen as turning back the tide of independence for the Welsh. The first of these was Grosmont, which came in January of the year 1405. Eight hundred Welsh and allies were killed, and no prisoners taken save one high ranking man, whom King Henry allowed to be ransomed later. Prince Henry had won the battle, and so he would go on to win another, Mrydd-y-Pull, in March. This was won even before the men of Charles VI arrived in Wales and were put into Owain’s campaigns. At this battle, some fifteen hundred Welshmen perished, among these Glyndwyr’s younger brother, Tudor. His son Gryffdd was taken prisoner, and sent to the Tower, and so, Owain Glyndwyr would spend the next four years fighting more defensively than ever, as King Henry himself now took to campaigning, returning to Wales.
In June and July he attempted one more gallant sortie over the borders in Worcestershire, and took to the very city walls again lands near Shrewsbury, as a hundred and forty French ships under command of Jean de Rieux the Marichal of France, and Sire de Hugueville sailed from Brest, and gave themselves to fight for Glyndwyr. Even still, the armies of the Henrys prevailed. The fighting in Hereford and at Shrewsbury was so fierce even the “brave” Crown Prince took flight, joining his father in the south, and then, together they again saw fit to drive upward to Wales. Glyndwyr took to the mountains eventually and fought by intermittent raiding. Many of the gentle people of South Wales took advantage of the King’s grace, and were taken back to be Englishmen again, foreswearing all further attempts toward independence. The entire affair of course took years to run to completion, but the dreams of we Cheshires remained but only that. The English Saxons might rule over us forever. Sic Propono, Hr yn byw Cymru!
THUS CONCLUDES THE TALES OF JULIAN PLECTRUM
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