Godfrew enjoyed the gardening, but the work proved difficult with his sore leg. Despite using the healing water from the mountain spring mixed with his willow bark infusions, he still spent most days walking on the toes of his left foot, never able to put his full weight on that leg without the sharp reminder of pain. Elfgat, the landholder, had been introduced and had given Godfrew work taking the pack horses up to Maidstone. Sometimes he carried finished cloth, sometimes fruit from the orchards. Once he was sent with crocks of honey to Canterbury as part of the tithe that Elfgat owed to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The land, once so fair, was now scarred with the Christ Church all burnt down.
But life was still fair for Godfrew with his Elfgifu. She was of Celtic build and Saxon colouring-all golden hair and milky skin, her flesh a soft plumpness that delighted the touch.
Hywel had made room for them by adding a small lean-to on the side of the cottage. He and Godfrew got on very well, often working together in the garden in the evenings. Godfrew sat pulling weeds whilst Hywel dug.
But Elfgifu's mother was another matter. Things remained cold between her and her new son-in-law. None of that mattered today, as the sun shone with the start of summer.
"Well, boy, warm it must be for you to leave that old cloak of thine off." Hywel and Godfrew walked with the other freemen of the hamlet toward the mount. The Hundred Moot had been called and all had to attend. A gathering was due, but the notice had come suddenly and none knew why.
"It's still in my pack, father-in-law, just in case it gets cold later." Godfrew swung forward the staff that he was using to help him walk.
"I don't know what thou'll do when older, boy." Hywel saw a neighbour and waved to him. "Tovi, what is the reason for the Moot, mon?"
"If thou knowen, then let me know, Taffy Hugh. With so many changes, who knows? I just trusten our landholder is keeping in the Normans good books. We don't wanten a change there." The man had a broad-rimmed hat and the rim bobbed up and down in rhythm with his steps. "Him and old Godwine were lucky to be too scared to fight any more, or they would have been at the battle near Hastings and lost the lot. Even Godwine losing his son at the Stamford Bridge wasn't the tragic loss we first thought. They aren't taking land from those who fought the Norwegians- yet!"
"Well, one landholder is as good as another. We're all freemen."
"So thou sayen, Taffy-but as I hear, Normans don't like freemen. They wanten all to have a master!"
"Well, we're here now, so soon find out."
Hywel and Godfrew stood at the edge of the gathering. On the mound were some that Godfrew recognised-Elfgat, Godwine and their reeves. Others, obviously English from their clothes and long moustaches, were talking to them. Gathered around the group were various clerics, mostly monks, but some dressed as of higher rank. A trumpet sounded and those on the mound sat on the benches set along the top.
The freemen sat on the grass below the mound. Coming from the back and onto the crest, a troop of Norman soldiers emerged with some additional clerics. As they came to the top, the sergeant of the troop removed his helmet and pulled back his mail hood. Godfrew removed his cloak from the bag and pulled it on.
"Freemen of the Bromley Hundred," announced a monk thrice-once east, once west, and once north. By his side stood the sergeant. Despite the loud voice of the cleric, all eyes were on the sergeant -for his face was horrible to behold. The man had a scar that ran from his forehead to his chin. His nose was reduced to a squat pig's snout. His left eye had been put out in such a way as to leave the socket a mass of scars. For a right hand he had but a stub and a thumb. As he breathed, a strange wheezing snuffle came from his nose and water ran from it continuously.
The monk continued. "You are gathered here to hear of news most important. First, let it be known that Stigand who styles himself Archbishop of Canterbury has been taken into the care of our most beloved Lord, King William. His Grace, after seeking and beseeching the Lord for guidance, has decided that Bishop Odo, his beloved brother and recently made Earl of Kent, will take care of the See till he, our Lord King, resolves what is to happen." The freemen murmured whilst the landholders on the mount looked grim. "Now, also hear this," continued the monk, reading from his scroll. "Haimo, now appointed Shire Reeve of the County of Kent, wants it known that the following have been declared outlawed and named Wolfshead: Rudgang Warband of Walton, Hogin Limpleg of Bromley and Godfrew Longshanks of Garratt." Godfrew pulled the hood of his cloak further over his head.
The sergeant spoke to the monk. "Describe the last one to the peasants. I have a personal interest in him." He pulled out a dirty rag and wiped the watery snot from his chin and snout.
"The last of these, Godfrew of Garratt," the monk looked to the sergeant for confirmation, "is particularly wanted. His features are these." He looked again to the sergeant.
The sergeant strode forward and spoke in a loud voice. "The Wolfshead Godfrew is taller than most. He has golden hair. He speaks the accent of north Surrey. He walks stiffly and his left eye is marked with a white caste, such that he cannot see from it. The bastard owes me and I will pay him back."
"The Wolfshead Godfrew is taller than most. He has golden hair. He speaks the accent of north Surrey. He walks stiffly and his left eye is marked with a white caste, such that he cannot see from it." translated the monk.
"The sergeant says you owe him, son-in-law," Hywel said to Godfrew. Godfrew looked sharply at his father-in-law. "Breton and Welsh ... we are both of the Cymry. The language is not that much changed since his relations fled the Saxons for France, leaving my relations behind to be slaughtered by your relations. Thou knowen him?"
Godfrew leaned near Hywel and whispered in his ear: "He owed me for a friend. Now I owe him for his pretty looks. I shall have to leave, I think."
"I told thee of my brother Dai in the shire of Hereford. His son, Llewelyn, is with my other brother Caradog. The lad returns home soon. It will pay thee to be with him. Dai will look after you for my sake." Hywel suddenly stood up and called out: "Shall we raise the hue and cry? Shall we get this rebel, noble sergeant?" He turned to the freemen: "Who will join me in this most valiant of tasks then?" The freemen, many of whom knew and liked Godfrew, took the cue and stood with Hywel, shouting and cheering. The Moot started to dissolve into confusion. The Normans became worried and, led by the Breton sergeant, moved down the mount toward the crowd, spears crossed, shields locked.
The sergeant called back to the monk who had read the scroll: "Get them to sit down. What are they playing at-unless they think him here?" He frowned. "That dark one at the back said something to the one wearing the white-hooded cloak. He said something in English. What did he say?" he yelled in his distinctive snuffle.
"He told the other to pay more attention to what you were saying sergeant ... that there could be a reward in it," assured the monk. He then called over the top of the soldiers to the assembly using his loudest voice: "Pray, all of you be seated, for there is time to search for the Wolfshead later and there is more news to impart."
Clouds gathered and masked the sun. In the distance, a grey wolf limped into the nearby
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