The Chains That Bind

I had a rather more uncomfortable reminder of my days in London today. Having found a quiet moment in which I thought I might get round to giving Aoibheann the dictionary, we were interrupted by a rather wild-looking individual. He looked as though he had escaped from some particularly cruel prison, being heavily chained and wearing an iron mask. Even worse, the chains seemed to be embedded in his flesh and I was uncomfortably reminded of my old nemesis, Mr Jasper Black, but this was not he. Certainly, he did not sound like Jasper, even if he could not remember his name. He called himself Bound, but I suspect that was more to do with his condition, than any name his parents gave him. At least he did not sound French, dispelling my initial thought that he had escaped from Alexander Dumas’ novel.

Then he asked a question that stumped me. He wanted to know what year it was. I have no idea what the local calendar thinks it is, so I answered as much as I knew, that it was 1891 to me and somewhere in the 14th century for Aoibheann. He did not seem overly surprised by this concept. He asked about there being Imperials around. I explained that we had a king and queen, but as far as I knew, no empire, which seemed to relieve him. Aoibheann gave him some ale and some shepherd’s pie, which he ate as though he had not seen food in a while, even taking a second portion away with him. He asked if there was a place he could rest, saying a hole in the ground would do. I must confess, I was a little doubtful, and wasn’t sure that any beds were available and directed him in the direction of the stables. I had a feeling he might be more comfortable there until he adjusts. Besides, those chains would have ruined the bedding. He did make a rather cryptic remark about bed being for the living, as he left, which seemed to worry Aoibheann slightly. I think she is a little nervous about the undead. I am going to have to tell her some time, but the longer I leave it…

His departure overlapped with a new arrival, a youngish lady by the name of Cicely. As I said to myself, having shortly beforehand mentioned various centuries, “add the fifteenth century to that”, judging from the dress. She seemed pleasant enough, if a little travel-stained. Aoibheann took her upstairs to freshen up, and then we gave her some of the pie and some ale. She was offered tea, but did not seem to know what that was. If I had mother’s library, I would have to look that up, when did tea become a popular drink in Britain? I think it was fairly recent, in my era, so perhaps it was not known then. She left later to go exploring, as she put it.

Cristof was there with his hounds; who alarmed Bound at first, before he left. Cristof opined that maybe the gods punish people for misdeeds in previous lives. I reiterated my view that church was a social obligation only, to me, and declared my faith only I my own actions and decisions. Have I become so agnostic now, or maybe I am heading towards atheism? Perhaps not, as I still feel some pull towards the old Celtic deities. Maybe I am becoming a pagan. What would the neighbours think?

Wren turned up, but unlike last night, did not ask for a Scotch on the rocks, instead opting for the much more sensible cider. I broached the matter of maths lessons with her. She was less than impressed but seemed willing to give it a go. I got the impression that she was not over keen on maths. I told her that I had hated maths at school, but then ended up in an occupation that demanded it. I then explained that I no longer disliked maths, but that it wasn’t a case that I liked it, more that it was a tool for telling the health of a business, just as it was a tool for working out how likely a particular hand was in poker. I think she got the point. I suggested that she wander by the tavern during the day, when it was quiet, and I would show her the maths of the pack of cards and the poker table. That seemed to be about it for the evening. At least she paid for her cider, so the evening was not totally without profit.

I’ve had this dictionary in my pocket for a few days now. At some point, I will get a chance to give it to Aoibheann. In the meanwhile, I shall closet myself with my books, put Mr Mallory to one side for a moment and decide what happens next to Edmund. I can’t think of any additional information that can be introduced by detailing his return to Elizabeth’s, unless that is a way for him to learn more about Willard. On the other hand, perhaps Evelyn will enlighten him. I really should put some time in on plotting, rather than just writing as I go along. I know roughly where I am going with the story, but maybe I should give myself a bit of a route map on the way.

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