Feast Day of St. Thomas, Eleventh Year in the Reign of King Richard II
The summer days are warm but full of heavy humidity, as if the Thames were reaching out to touch us. Jack succumbs as most boys of his age to a lethargy, and begs off on his tutelage, as if the heat can stall his overused brain. Where does the boy get his notions?
Ah well. It’s not as if I have the energy to fight him. Summer days are just as slow as the dead of winter when it comes to clients at our door, and the wine is running low. We must needs make a pilgrimage soon to the Boar’s Tusk to slack our thirst as well as our boredom. Besides, a walk through London often stirs up its own clients…
Jack speaks to me, concurring on a walk to our favorite tavern. How quickly he has adopted my habits, though I do not wish to encourage his overindulgence in wine as I myself have done these past ten years. My reasons were specific, and Jack is not by nature a melancholy man. He does his best to curb my tendencies.
And so we are off, walking down the Shambles toward West Cheap. Drovers are in the market today with their sheared charges, bleating in the streets. I watch them go with envy. For it has been a long time since I enjoyed a roasted lamb joint. But even if it weren’t for the drover and his sheep, the market would still be busy on this day. All are taking advantage of the weather, for it could just as easily rain, suddenly and harshly.
In such crowds, Jack likes to point out to me which unfortunate he would have chosen to cut his purse; those who were most preoccupied with the transaction of business, those without an assistant or apprentice at their side. Yes, there were easy pickings along the row, should one be so inclined–and Jack assured me that he was no longer of that profession of thieves that so plagued London. Jack was sixteen now, and I trusted him with my purse as well as my life. He would only cut a purse should I order it, and unless we sought the information therein, it wasn’t a likely occurrence. Still, I found this intimate view inside the mind of thief to be most instructive.
We made our turn at Gutter Lane and soon entered the tavern and its cooler, darker interior. I craved ale today and waved our friend Gilbert over and delivered the news. He was happy to see me and happy to indulge us as he, too, settled on a stool at our table, keeping a sharp eye out for his wife, Eleanor.
“To your good health, Crispin,” he said, as we hoisted our beakers. The sweet ale was cool slipping down my throat, and I made an appreciative sound.
“Much thanks, Gilbert,” I told him, and wished him health and God’s blessings on him.
The days of summer were long, but in such good company, not nearly as fearsome.