I sat in a large oak chair surrounded by our troupe of Troubadours called from their rehearsals to hear news from the north. Once gathered I begged attention and spoke.
"My Friends, sickness has been our companion these past few weeks. We all remember our Sainted Sheila once stood on death's door." Lady Sheila stood from her chair to acknowledge my words. She nodded in appreciation to her fellow Troubadours for their visits, prayers and the candles lit in the Castle's chapel for her recovery.
"Are we not glad she is with us and in good spirits? How fortunate we are the door did not open. Our Lady Lorraine, again here present, still recovers from a terrible undeserved blight but assures me, and all assembled, that she is better each and ever day. I fear Misfortune has called upon us and found a home. The proof of which came in a parchment delivered on the Friday."
I cleared my throat to continue to speak. A few of our younger Troubadours, having forgotten their manners, were quickly silenced by Lady Brittney so I could continue.
"Master Bracken has taken to his bed in the village of Logan four days by carriage to the north. This news came by his own hand, written on parchment, and delivered to the castle by a herald, sleepless these past two nights. The parchment is written in Master Bracken's own hand, shaken I can see from pain."
I stopped talking to try to read Bracken's marks. It became apparent I couldn't. I needed more light than the Great Hall's fire could provide. "Let us all vacate the Hall for the intimacy and natural sun light in the library," I suggested. All stood, exited the Hall, and ascended the stone staircase to the warm library above.
Once seated, our band of wintering Troubadours fell silent about me as I read Master Bracken's own words:
I awoke with great pain radiating from my lower side giving such discomfort as to cause me to sound an alarm. A doctor was presently called. His lateness in arriving due was the fault of a peasant suffering from a similar complaint. My suffering steadily increased as I awaited the physician. My Grandmother administered herbs. They took no effect. I thought of using spirits but thought the better of it not knowing how it would affect my condition. To occupy my mind I took quill and parchment to write this letter. I stop now, the physician has arrived.I stopped reading. The sun’s disk was being consumed by the far away hills. Lady Lorraine lit a candle and held it close so I could continue.
“Oh do proceed,” Lady Emily commanded. It is true she and Bracken were good friends and masters of our trade.
“Yes, please do,” Lady Stacy added from behind the younger members of our troupe who sat on the stone floor before me.
“I shall presently continue once my failing eyes grow accustom to the light,” I said.
“Tis a wonder he has eyesight at all considering his advanced age,” spoke Master Merryweather just out of arms reach to my left.
“Yes, tis true Master Spencer but pray you not forget your desire for payment from the Nobleman’s purse. Your apprenticeship is nearing completion. Statements such as the one just spoken might give me pause in offering a recommendation on your behalf.”
“I beg forgiveness,” the young master quickly added.
“Shall we continue?” I inquired, to which all spoke to the affirmative.
The physician bid adieu after bleeding me from my right foot. The pain, he testifies, is the result of bad blood, come from my long journey’s from the Castle to this village. I am under orders to remain until well enough to travel. I send this news by noble herald in hopes of receiving a parchment in return to cheer my dark mood. Yours in Service. Bracken.I folded the parchment as all stood to depart to their rooms and continued rehearsals for our travelling summer season soon to start before the summer solstice.
“Wait,” I said. My words startled Master Zac, causing him to stumble over the outstretched legs of young Master Luis who had fallen asleep during the reading. “I beg your pardon but I've forgotten other news. Presently return and pray I don't forget my head on the morrow.”
Our troupe reassembled. Once settled, I turned their attention to Master Bradyn.
“Master Bradyn received a letter from the Lord Bishop Commanding him to leave our troupe in April. He will be taking Holy Orders and joining a band of travelling Friars for the northern city of Boston. I’m sure all will join me in applause for our fellow Troubadour as he prepares to embark on this service to the Lord’s children.”
On my command all stood, young and old alike, to applaud Master Bradyn’s righteous desires. Master Braydn jumped to the top of a nearby oak table and bowed deeply as if stood before the Lord of the Manor himself.
“Now return to your rehearsals," I said in dismissing the gathering. "Light your fires for the night grows cold. A runner will summon you for dinner in the cookhouse. Tonight we feast on rabbit and bread. I shall see you all presently.”
The room emptied. I remained to stand by the large window overlooking the castle’s courtyard. Twilight blew the shadows away leaving an increasing darkness in their wake. It would be night soon, then supper and bed. The sabbath dawns on the morrow.