Wolf Wood (Part One) (Chapter 5 - The Julian, page 2 of 5)

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Heads turned towards the tinker as he ranted on. Richard glanced outside and saw the glint of steel. Men-at-arms were gathering in front of the inn. He recognised their uniforms.

'Shut up!'

He glared at the tinker.

'Sir Humphrey Stafford, Lady Margaret Gough and half the sodding shire are here for the ceremonial handover of the Julian to the almshouse. Anymore of your chatter and we'll have ourselves arrested for sedition.'


The tinker held the lantern and Owen struggled with the key. They had come down to All Hallows with the intention of sleeping there. It was the middle of the night and the monks had just returned to their beds following the matins service.

'Boyo. Come and see if you can get this thing to open.' Owen shouted to Gareth who was relieving himself against the abbey wall. 'It's the key Dickie Vowell gave us. I can't get it to turn.'

Gareth adjusted his clothing and walked across.

'Are you sure you've got the right key?'

'Like I said, it's the one we got from Dickie.'

Gareth tried the key and it worked first time.

'You're pissed ... that's your problem.'

He pushed at the door and it swung open. Candles burnt on the Easter Sepulchre and on the altar. Owen squeezed past and fell on his knees.

'It's here somewhere.'

He groped beneath the alter and retrieved a flask.

'Here you are. This is what the gentility is served at Mass. The best Bordeaux ... not the rabbits' piss we poor sods get given.'

He handed the flask to the tinker.

'Wrap yourself around that, Tink. Blood of Christ. A present from our good friend Dickie Vowell.'

The remark brought an immediate response from the tinker. 'Doest thou truly believe that the wine has become the blood of our dear Lord Jesus?'

'That's what they say,' Owen grinned mischievously. 'The priest blesses the wine and bread and they become the blood and flesh of Jesus.'

'Foul Blasphemy.' The tinker raised his hands to heaven, spilling wine on his tunic. 'Wouldst thou have us believe that our Lord's father was a vintner and his mother a baker?'

Owen grabbed the flask before more was lost.

'The wine remains wine and the bread remains bread. No words of a priest will change that. Hast thou not heard the teachings of the wise John Wycliffe who repudiated the foul doctrine of transubstantiation? Hast thou not read his learned denunciation of papal authority? It was the brave Wycliffe who dared translate the Holy Scriptures into the common tongue. It was he who sent out preachers to tell the people of the tyranny that oppresses them …'

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