Squire Bidecombe’s Tree

Michael K. White

Copyright 2012 by Michael K. White

Smashwords Edition

Squire Bidecombe’s Tree

Copyright 2011 by Michael White

Squire Bidecombe’s Tree

~ In the village of Tharnet, just before dawn a man sets out on a task, there is a memory of an acorn falling and rain is thought to be on the way. ~

In the year of Our Lord

One Thousand Six Hundred and fourty six in the village of Tharnet, just before dawn, Henry Bracebridge was a man in a hurry. It was a cold foggy morning and as he made his way down the lane, the covered lantern he held out before him was his only protection against the dark. A sharp wind made his progress slow, his cloak blowing around him. Across the meadows the dull sound of the shepherd’s bells rang dully as if muffled by the pre-morning mist.

In his head Henry was considering the tasks set before him by the squire. All in all it should be a relatively simple chore and accordingly he had engaged a number of villagers that he thought he would require to aid him in accomplishing said business. He snorted aloud as he wondered whether Abraham Sprottle would arrive at the church yard before him. “Almost certainly he is still a-bed and here’s I out in the dark with the shepherds coming in from the hills.” He thought to himself as he picked his way over the rough stone strewn path, carefully making his way in the dark. He believed that he may have smelt rain in the air but he continued nonetheless on his way in the darkness. He knew that dawn would break soon, which should coincide with his arrival at his destination.

It was a week ago that Bartholomew Bidecombe, in his capacity of squire to the village had summoned Henry to the churchyard (of which the squire was the custodian), to discuss a matter that he had considered to be most pressing. It had been a bright but breezy autumn morning when Henry had met the squire at this location. The squire’s horse and cart stood underneath the huge Oak Tree that straddled the church side of the path. Curiously, the squire seemed to be wandering amongst the graves spread about the church, muttering to himself and occasionally stooping to pick something up, and then almost immediately throwing whatever he had found away once more. The squire’s man servant, Oswyn Pelletoot, seemed also to be engaged in a similar task, but did not seem to be throwing away whatever it was that he was picking up, stowing whatever he was collecting in a fold of his smock that he held before him like a small sack. As Henry watched however, Oswyn stumbled and dropped all of whatever he was holding all around him. He loudly uttered a curse and the squire stopped immediately what he was doing, staring at Oswyn.

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