Century Series

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Edric Flesher spoke up bluntly: “It is. And of all our townsmen, too. There are many who would voice the matter more forcibly than Master Corviser has done. ” The faint stir that went round the chapter-house was like a great, cautious sigh. Most of the brothers looked on wide-eyed and anxious; the younger ones shifted and whispered, but very warily. Prior Robert Pennant, who had looked to be abbot by this time, and been sorely disappointed at having a stranger promoted over his head, maintained a silvery, ascetic calm, appeared to move his lips in prayer, and shot sidelong looks at his superior between narrowed ivory lids, wishing him irredeemable error while appearing to compassionate and bless.

He asked no leave; he had selected already the smallest and most manageable boat that swung beside the jetty, and he was across the boards and down into it almost before the sheriff’s men had driven their mounts in among the still-locked combatants, and begun to pluck the known natives out by the hair. Brother Cadfael followed. With Compline but ten minutes away, by his mental clock, he should have made his escape and left the salvage to this confident and commanding young man, but he had been sent out here to aid a client of the abbey fair, and could he not argue that he was still about the very same business?

That and other fields, brother. Euan of Shotwick is one of the sharpest of all of Earl Ranulfs intelligencers, and much relied on, and if he’s setting up a booth here as far as Shrewsbury, it may well be for more purposes than trade. And then on the other side, look, that great barge standing off ready to come alongside—downstream of us. See the cut of her? Bristol-built, for a thousand marks! ” Above the softly-flowing surface of Severn, its green silvered now with slanting evening sunlight, the barge sidled along the grassy shore towards the end of the jetty.

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