Friday, June 15, 2018

Tales from the Norman Countryside

Historical fiction.

Jean-Rémin, offered to the congregants a little prayer: 

“Dear Jesus, please provide us with the wisdom and the judgement to respond in kindly and in merciful to those who hurt us, as You respond to me when I have trespassed ‘gainst my Earthly kin. Amen.”

The brothers did accord. Then sang they up another hymn and then retired briefly to the kitchen some, to bring the Feast into the common room.

Each fruit and flower was then doubly-blessed, by each the Benedictine brothers, Guytonnet and Jean-Rémin. Neither was ordained, but in these dire times, a layman priest was well preferred to having none at all! And well perhaps our Lord would mark His due, for two lay priests, they vicars proper, may be measured up to one in cloth received? 

Even in the countryside, the merchants did report that some remotest villages did them employ a woman as a priest. They said so with their full veracity. Never had the brothers heard, however, ever there’s a child priest, nor one of four-leg’d animals, nor fishes in the sea. For every season or a couple, stories did come through that someone near or far away had witnessed talking animals. Why not? God did shew us miracles of common sorts near every day. Think fondly of our Biche-Tachetée, the spotted hare, and all her kits! Something that should seem unusual, withas this lady priest, would come unusual to filling up their ears, and not on every day, from every place. This why it be strange of course, the very essence of this strangeness: not for someone other than a priest, a nun or brother be in love with God, but rather for it come from elsewhere, and infrequently.

Also had the brothers heard of other monks in other lands who were then be able ask of God to grant them power over weather. These some other monks would pray together early in the morning, to drive way the rains or bring a pleasant breeze. Their abbot though did scold them and admonish them for folly, for only God should tell the Four Winds where to blow and howl. Men ought not, even in their power, wright these things and make them writ upon the Earth without dear reason from ecclesiastical perspective. Never ere would miracles be done for sport or personal advance, but only for our Lord God and His plans upon the Firmament.

In Exodus, we learn that God did bring upon the Pharaoh plagues of vermin, and in one case, frogs. In doing so, the Lord did arm the Children with least of His Creation, to show the least of it could best the powers of the mighty Pharaoh. But well recall! The magi of the Pharaoh also wrought a plague of frogs to Egypt. Even in their majesty, these magi in their scintillating garments, they did harm their king. No one needs two plagues of frogs or several other things! So God did win the day and did that Pharaoh well embarrass. Keep thee this at hand.

True Story.

Here in Normandy, they tell a storm in nine hundred eighty-three that was so fierce that it did also bring a plague of frogs unto a village. The village inn was full when several pilgrims did attempt to stop and rest. There was no room. Just then, the frogs did fall as rain, and then the ones who lived did hop away again. Also did the villagers discover that the frogs, when roasted, had a pleasant flavor on the palate. Although the elders of the village did suspect some pilgrim wives of witchcraft, it was clear to the young priest that it was God reminding men of His great power over nature. Scolded all the Witan of the village, did the priest, their sin inhospitality, as was it evidenced by intervening God. They were well admonished and never have the plague of frogs again revisited fair Normandy, nor do bumpkins of the countryside turn pilgrims there away.

Be this here a prolix way to say that there are some un-uniform proceedings under Heaven here on Earth, whereas in Heaven things are perfect, and forever and forever.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Aethelward the Rat-Catcher Boy

The boy he kept nearby was Æthelward, a couching dreamer up with head up in the rafters. Charles, of the boy could dress him up, but never get the boy to look just right. Always was his tunic pull-dog, pull-devil, or he had split his hose. His ears curled forward and his front teeth abended out. He was the very etching of buffoonery to look upon him.  However may that be, the boy, this Æthelward, was useful, and he never malapert, for he did take to catching rats, and rats did take to Æethelward.

Aethelward, Lord High Rat Catcher

A professional Rat-Catcher is essential to yon every castle, city, town, and village, or wherever there are people. These crafty Men, they couch and rampant for the foul rats, must frequently they work the abject under-places where these vermin fester, inclewd the sewers, basements derelict, and catacombs dug underward the Earth. They risk their health and safety, as men surely do in every age, in mean proximity diseased and rabid screaming scoundrels of the underfeet.

Rats and mice and insects of the Plagues, and other vermin, are ubiquitous throughout the realm. Even here in fair-kept Normandy, did God place down upon the Earth so many kinds of vermin, erst Men never knew their worth. These sharpened knaves of matted blood and fur, of yellow incisitory insult, les animaux nuisibles servile avec des dents de verre empoisonné, an ever-present harbinger of pestilence and famine and disease and epidemics. Keeping down the population of the bristly deluge of death’s knell, this putrid business, crucial be the work to keep our realm enpeopled with good health, and guard con damage to our bread and grains, and goodly beer and wines. Thus, that tinkerer, he called the Rat-Catcher, be always in demand. Despite his grim and dirty work, has he but earned the tip and untip of the knight and lowly man alike. They are welcome in all corners of our Normandy and other realms.

So then when Charles and Robert both did come to Maine to rule, Charles brought along his Æthelward to keep the house of God more Godly in the face of pestilence. He did pay to Æthelward one livre carolingienne per week, plus room and one meal per diem, a lordly sum for such a lowly sod. Also did he grant the boy the title of Lord High Rat Catcher and made him as a Gentleman so he outranked the butler (ere except when they were in the proper house.) Whether Olive cared he overmuch or no, he kept it to himself.