[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]
.Matilda tugged his arm to jerk him out of this silent reverie.'That was a sorry spectacle this evening, John,' she said.Secretly, she-was pleased that it was her husband who had so publicly broken up the developing quarrel.It had been witnessed by all the people who mattered in the city, and some of the kudos must rub off on her when she next met her matronly cronies at " their devotions.For the moment, the fact that she had been on the top table next to the archdeacon and the sheriff, as well as having her husband demonstrating his authority to half the county, allowed her to temporarily forget her shame at her brother's disgrace - and John's part in bringing it about.As they reached their home, she was almost benign as she prompted him to sit by the fire and have a cup of wine, while she summoned Lucille out of her kennel under the stairs and hauled her up to the solar to undress her and prepare her for bed.John contemplated taking Brutus down to the Bush, but it was quite late now and he had consumed so much food and drink that for once the thought of his mattress overcame even the attractions of Nesta.He sat in one of the monk's chairs by his great hearth, the cowled top keeping the draughts away from his head.Mary came in with a small wineskin and a pewter cup, and as she poured for him he told her of the drama in the Guildhall that evening.They kept their voices low, as high on the wall to the side of the chimney there was a Judas slit that communicated with the solar, but close to the fireplace they were out of sight of Matilda's prying eyes.Mary was always avid for titbits of scandal, and this time she was even able to tell him something about the Peverel ménage.'My cousin is a seamstress at Sampford Peverel,' she volunteered.'She calls to see my mother a couple of times a year, when the steward's wife brings her to buy at the cloth fair.'Mary's mother was also a seamstress, in Rack Lane - her father had been a passing soldier who stayed only for the conception.'She says that it's an unhappy manor, especially since the last lord died in that tourney.The family always seem to be fighting among themselves, and this Hugo is hated by almost everyone, even by his wife and his stepmother!'John knew that servants' gossip was often exaggerated but usually had a grain of truth in it somewhere.'What's the problem there, did your cousin say?'Mary shrugged.'I wasn't all that interested at the time.I wish I had taken more notice now.It seems that the old man took a much younger wife a few years ago and they were far from happy.But the main trouble when he died was that the eldest son was barred from the inheritance and it went to the second son, which was Hugo.'John's black eyebrows rose.It was a serious matter if the heir to a large manor like Sampford had to forfeit his birthright.'Did she say what brought that about?' he asked.'My cousin said the eider son had some disability of his body, though she didn't say what.I know the matter was hotly disputed and they went to law in London over it.'Mary knew no more, but when she left with the empty jug, John remained in his chair, pondering over what she had said.To have such a boorish, overbearing man as Hugo Peverel as the lord of a manor torn by family squabbles sounded like a recipe for a very unhappy village.Early the next morning, Gwyn called at the house in Martin's Lane, keeping a wary eye out for the coroner's wife, who disapproved of the hairy Cornishman almost as much as she despised Thomas, the unfrocked clerk who was a sexual pervert, as far as she was concerned.Gwyn was safe enough-today, as she was still in bed after her over-indulgence at the feast the previous evening, but John was already dressed, fed and watered by the faithful Mary.He buckled a short sword on to his baldric, stepped out of the vestibule into the lane and stalked alongside his officer into the main thoroughfare of the city.'These men are lodging in Curre Street, you say?''Yes, they're dossing in a cheap room behind a brothel [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]