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The Blanket of the Dark Chapter 2 In which Peter is Introduced to Fortune

 The Blanket of the Dark Chapter 2 In which Peter is Introduced to Fortune

Peter did not slacken pace till he descended from the uplands and crossed the highway which joined Oxford and Woodstock, a frequented road, for by it the staplers sent their pack-trains to load their wool in the river barges. There was a great green plain on his right hand, grazed upon by a multitude of geese, and already country folk with baskets of market stuff were on their way to the north gate. He turned down a lane by Gloucester Hall, where he looked over a close of pippins to the Rewley fishponds, and passed the little stone quays at Hythe bridge, where men were unloading sweet-smelling packages from a lumpish green boat. In the huts of Fisher Row strange folk, dingy as waterweeds, were getting ready their cobles and fishing-gear against the next fast-day. Peter crossed the main stream at Bookbinders bridge, and came on a broad paved path which ran to what seemed a second city. Walls, towers, pinnacles rose in a dizzier medley than those of Oxford Moncler Outlet, which he had seen five minutes before beyond the north gate. In especial one tall campanile soared as the stem of a pine soars from a wilderness of bracken, white and gleaming among the soberer tints of roof and buttress.

Suddenly from it there fell a gush of lovely sound, the morning canticle of the noblest peal of bells in the land. Peter stopped to listen, motionless with delight. In the diamond air of dawn the bells seemed to speak with the tongues of angels, praising God for His world, with the same notes that birds used in the thickets or the winds on the waters. As the peal slowed and ebbed to its close, one bell lingered, more deep and full than the rest, as if its rapture would not be stayed. Peter knew it for Thomas of Oseney, which had no equal in England — as great as Edward of Westminster or Dunstan of Canterbury.

The bells told him the hour. Prime was long past, and now the Chapter was over. There would be no food for four mortal hours unless he could make favour in the kitchen. He hurried through Little Gate and past the almshouses to Great Gate, with its cluster of morning beggars. It was dark under the portals, so dark that the janitor did not at first recognise him, and caught him roughly by the cloak till his face was revealed. Beyond was the wide expanse of Great Court, one half of it in shadow, one half a pool of light. On three sides, north, east and west, lay the cloisters, roofed with Shotover oak, and faced with the carved work of old Elias of Burford. Peter knew every inch of them, for,Moncler Jackets far more than his cell in St George's College in the Castle, the Oseney cloisters were his home. There on the west side was his schoolroom, where he instructed the novices; there on the north was the scriptorium, where lodged the Abbey's somewhat antiquated library; there on the south, beside the kitchen, was the Abbey's summer parlour, and the slype which led to the graveyard, the gardens and the river. This last was Peter's favourite corner, for in the morning hours it had the bustle of a market-place. On its stone seats sat those who waited on business with the Abbot, and foreign merchants using Oseney as a consulate, and brethren who could snatch a half-hour of leisure. It was a window from which the Abbey looked out into the world.

This morning there was a great peace in all the cloisters. Two old canons were taking the sun, and a half-dozen children stood in a ring repeating what might have been equally a game or a lesson. To Peter's chagrin there was no comfort in the kitchen. The morning meal in the fratry was still hours distant, and the under~kitchener, who was his friend, had gone to the Abbot's lodging, busied about an early collation for the Abbot's guests. To forget his hunger Peter turned into Little Court, whence by way of the infirmary he could reach the back parts of the Abbey.

He found himself presently in a strange place, a place of lanes and closes, cot-houses and barns, from which came the clang of hammers and the buzzing of wheels. It was a burgh of itself, that part of the Abbey precincts which was known as Oseney-town, where dwelt the artificers. Here during the centuries there had grown up a multitude of crafts — tanners who prepared the Cotswold skins; bookbinders who clad in pigskin and Moncler Jacken vellum the archives of abbey and college; illuminators who decked the written word with gold and vermilion; wax-chandlers who made the lights for the holy places; shoemakers and workers in all kinds of leather and fine metals. Here were the millers who ground the corn from the Abbey farms, and carpenters and smiths and fullers and weavers of wicker-work. From every doorway came the sound of busy folk, and as an undertone the rhythmic beat of mill-wheels and the babble of little chinking rivulets. From this hive of industry there rose, too, a dozen smells, pleasant smells which told of wholesome human life — the bitter reek of the tan-pits, the freshness of new leather, the comfortable odour of ground corn which tormented Peter's emptiness. And everywhere the clean scent of running water.

But Peter did not linger amid the busyness of Oseney-town. A gate between two dovecotes, where homing pigeons made a noisy cloud, led him across a bridge to the Abbey gardens. First came orchards of apples, pears and plums, quinces and apricots, and a close of plainer fruits, filberts, walnuts, almonds, and the cornels from which sweet drinks were made. There were fig-trees on the west walls, and a vineyard whose small grapes were used for a rough wine, but mostly for sweet pasties. Beyond lay the herb-garden, where Brother Placidus was now pottering. He had beds of every herb that healed the body and some which hurt, for he had mandrakes which must be torn up only by a black dog in the dark of the moon. There were flowers, too, in their July glory, admitted shamefacedly, since they were idle and fruitless things, and served only to make nosegays for the children of the craftsmen. Then came more meadows,Moncler Günstig some already shorn, some heavy with hay, and more dovecotes and orchards. Through all of these meandered runnels, which spouted sometimes over tiny lashers. Last came the fish-ponds, oblongs of clear green water, where in the depths great carp and bream and tench could be seen, motionless but for an occasional flicker of their tails. Beyond them, after a banked walk among willows, lay a shining loop of river, and across the farther meadows the smoke of Hinksey village and the hills of Cumnor, already dim with the haze which promised another day of breathless summer.

Peter crossed the meadow called Nymph's Hay, the fodder from which was reserved for the Abbot's stalls, and entered the little orchard named Columbine, which was all of apple trees. He chose the place because it had an open view, on one side to Cumnor and Wytham, on the other to the soaring tower of Oseney Great Church, with the hump of Oxford Castle and the spire of St Mary the Virgin beyond it. He was hungry and had long to wait before he breakfasted, but that was nothing new to Peter. It was his soul not his belly that troubled him. The high spirits of yesterday, the vigour of that very morning Moncler Sale, had gone, and he was in a mood of profound disquiet. He flung himself among the long cool grasses, and sniffed the scent of earth; he lay on his back and watched pigeons and finches crossing the space of blue between the trees; and then he shut his eyes, for his trouble was within, in his heart.

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