Wolf Wood (Part One) (Chapter 5 - The Julian, page 1 of 5)

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A sign above the entrance of the Julian Inn depicted a buxom woman with rouged cheeks, claimed to be a likeness of Saint Juliana. Richard Vowell blew her a kiss as he went inside.

'Look who's here?'

He was greeted with shouts of applause. Men with ruddy complexions and women with children reached out as he squeezed past.

'You taught 'em a lesson, Dick.'

'That's right,' a woman shouted. 'Dick farted and the monks came tumbling down. They'll be nursing their bums for weeks.'

The peasants sang a song about a monk and a milkmaid. Richard waited until they reached the verse where the monk climbed into a barrel then made his way to a table crammed with pewter mugs. Owen Ap-Richard was there with his boys and a dozen others, including the tinker. Owen picked up a bladder of wine.

'We've been saving this for you, Dickie.'

Richard fingered the limp offering. 'You've not been saving it. You've been drinking it.' He looked around the table.

'What's this then ... an Agincourt reunion?'

'There's only seven of us,' Owen said.

'Yeah ... but you would have cut a hundred French throats between you.'

'Noble throats,' the tinker interjected. 'We wouldn't have done it if they'd been commons.'

'You speak for yourself, boyo.'

Owen groped under the table and produced another wineskin.

'The Frogs were preparing to counterattack. If I thought my prisoners would stab me in the back, I'd slit their bloody throats whoever they were.'

'That's not what your nobles did,' the tinker reached for the wineskin. 'When King Harry gave the order they refused.'

'I know, boyo. They wanted to ransom them.'

'That's not the reason,' the tinker squirted wine into his mug. 'They refused because they recognised them nobles as their foul brothers ... oppressors of the common folk.'

Owen considered the point. 'I'll grant you they were a bit upset when we did it for them.'

'They weren't just upset ... they was scared.'

The tinker looked from face to face.

'They saw us commoners ... seventeen-year-old lads like what we were then ... slitting the throats of great lords. That frightened them because they knew if we could do it in France, we could do it back here.'

'Like with Wat Tyler,' someone said.

'Aye, Brother, like with Wat Tyler. Our grandfathers showed us the way. They could've taken London and freed their young king from the evil influence of the earls and barons but they was betrayed. They was told their just demands was agreed to and they could return home but that was just a wicked lie …'

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