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The Blanket of the Dark Chapter 3 In which Peter Lurks in the Shadow

 

The Blanket of the Dark Chapter 3 In which Peter Lurks in the Shadow

Four weeks later to a day Peter sat again in his old eyrie, above the highway which descended from Stowood to the Wood Eaton meads. Strange things had happened meanwhile. Twenty-four hours after the meeting in the Abbot's lodging the heat had broken in thunderstorms, followed by such a deluge of rain as washed the belated riverside haycocks to the sea and sent Isis and Cherwell adventuring far into distant fields. In the floods a certain humble dependent of Oseney, Pentecost by name, had the ill-luck to perish. For two days he was missed from his accustomed haunts, and on the third news came up the river from Dorchester that he had been last seen attempting a crazy plank bridge over Thame which had been forthwith carried down by the floods. The body was not recovered,MBT Shoes but there were many nameless bodies washed up those days. Perfunctory masses were sung for the soul of the drowned man in a side chapel of Oseney Great Church, and in the little chapel of St George in the Castle, and Brother Tobias wore a decent mask of grief and kept his chamber. A new master in grammar was found for the novices, and there was a vacancy in an Oseney corrody and an empty bed in the Castle garret. In a week a deeper tide than that of Isis had submerged the memory of Peter Pentecost.

"It is necessary to do such things cleanly," the old Lord Avelard had said. "There must be no Lambert Simnel tale that might crop up to our undoing." He was a careful gentleman, for Brother Tobias was sent to Wychwood to spread the news, so that those who had sat by Peter on the benches of Witney school might spare a sigh for a lost companion.MBT Chapa Shoes

Then Peter by night was taken to Sir Ralph Bonamy's house at Wood Eaton. No servant saw him enter, but in the dark a clerk's gown was burned, and in the morning a young man broke his fast in Sir Ralph's hall, who bore the name of Bonamy, and was a cousin out of Salop. The manor-house of Wood Eaton was no new-fangled place such as fine gentlemen were building elsewhere. It was still in substance the hall of Edward the First's day, with its high raftered roof, its solar with plastered walls, its summer parlour, its reedy moat, which could nevertheless be speedily filled bank~high by a leat from Cherwell, its inner and outer courtyards bastioned and loopholed for defence. Sir Ralph was as antique as his dwelling. A widower and childless, he lived alone with an ancient sister, who spent her days amid the gentle white magic of herbs and simples. He was well beyond three-score and ten years, but still immensely strong and vigorous MBT UK, and able to spend long days in the field with his hounds or on the meres with his fishing pole. He was short and broad, with a noble head of greying reddish hair, and he was clad always in coarse green cloth like a yeoman, while his boots were as massive as an Otmoor fowler's. He was a lover of good fare and mighty in hospitality, so that his hall was like a public house of entertainment, where neighbour or stranger could at any time get his fill of beef-pudding and small beer. It was an untidy place, murky in winter with wood-smoke and dim even in summer, for the windows were few and dirty. It smelled always of cooked meats and of a motley of animals, being full of dogs - deer-hounds and gazehounds, and Malta spaniels, and terriers; likewise there were hawks' perches, and Sir Ralph's favourite tassel-gentle sat at his elbow. The stone floor was apt to be littered with marrow-bones and the remains of the hounds' meals, and the odour was not improved by the drying skins of wild game which hung on the walls. Sir Ralph had a gusty voice and a habit of rough speech, which suited his strange abode, but he was also notably pious, and a confrater of MBT Shoes UK Oseney; a small chapel opened from the hall where the family priest conducted regular devotions, and he kept his Fridays and fast days as rigidly as any Oseney canon. He was an upholder of the old ways in all things - religion, speech, food and furnishing.

Peter, clad in a sober, well-fitting suit of brown such as became a country squire out of Salop, breakfasted his first morning at Wood Eaton with his head in a whirl. His host, in a great armed chair, made valorous inroads on a cold chine of beef, and drank from a tun glass of ale which he stirred with a twig of rosemary.MBT Sport ShoesThe long hawking-pole, which never left him, leaned against his chair, and by his hand lay a little white stick with which he defended his platter against the efforts of a great deer-hound and two spaniels to share its contents. Sir Ralph had welcomed his guest with a gusto which he had in vain attempted to make courtly, and since then had said nothing, being too busy with food and dogs. "Eat, sir," he had said, "youth should be a good trencherman. Now, alas! I can only pick like a puling lanner." Then he cut himself a wedge of pie which might have provisioned a ploughman for a week.

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