That morning, after the luxury of a privy that smelled almost sweet, he breakfasted as normal. Then he made his way to that part of the estate nearest to the village of Tarrant and from there he strode down to the road to the Bridge, and then turned along the main road heading towards Lord Addlestrune’s tower.
He had been somewhat nervous about going too close to the toll gate. He suspected the dour faced clerk would probably remember him. As it was he needn’t have worried. He asked two men cleaning a ditch the best way to get to see Lord Addlestrune and they directed him across the fields to the tower. At the tower itself he asked after the Lord and was told to wait. Twenty minutes later a short bustling woman handed him two pails. “Don’t drop them, one’s stew, an’ the other’s bread.”
“Where do I take them?”
“Nowhere yet,” She disappeared back into the kitchen and came out with satchel that she hung round his neck. “This has bowls and stuff in.” She disappeared once more and returned with another satchel which she hung round his neck but with the weight hanging down his back. “Fruit cake.”
“So where do I take them?”
She led him across the stack yard and opened a gate that led into a field.
“Follow those cart tracks. They’re at the end of them. No dawdling, dinner will get cold.”
Benor set off across the field. The tracks led towards a belt of woodland in the distance. Half an hour later the tracks still led towards a belt of woodland, but his shoulders ached, his neck was sore and his arms felt as if they were being dragged out of their sockets. Finally he reached the edge of the wood to see a group of men working on the fence that separated the wood from the grazing. A short burly man in a leather waistcoat saw him. “Dinner’s
here lads.” Benor assumed he was Lord Addlestrune.
The men gathered around to watch Benor arrive. Gratefully Benor placed the two pails on the cart, then carefully took the two satchels off and placed them next to the pails.
Lord Addlestrune opened one satchel and pulled out bowls and spoons. He handed out a bowl to everybody, including Benor, and then started pouring the stew. “Help yourself to bread lads.”
A little nonplussed by the casual nature of his reception Benor concentrated on his meal. He discovered his morning had given him an appetite. He also noticed Lord Addlestrune watching him.
“Not sure I know you lad?”
Still holding his bowl Benor sketched a low bow. “Benor Dorfinngil, cartographer and pack mule at your service sir.”
The short man laughed. “So what brings you here then, other than a noble desire to ensure we got our dinner on time?”
“Actually sir, it’s a legal matter and I wasn’t sure how to see you about it.”
“May I speak plainly sir?”
Lord Addlestrune turned to the men surrounding him. “You’re now a jury. Nothing gets repeated.”
He turned back to Benor. “So now you can speak as plain as you want, so long as you don’t insult the food or the honour of my wife.”
“I’ve found the body of a dead woman, buried secretly. Probably two years ago.”
“In my jurisdiction?”
“On Grayer Thirsk’s estate.”
“My problem then.” He turned to the men surrounding him. “Right, let’s make ourselves comfortable. Master Dorfinngil here is going to give us the details.”
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