A Haunt of Murder by P. C. Doherty

By P. C. Doherty

As evening units in, Chaucer’s weary pilgrims locate themselves in a Kent copse, rumored to be haunted. Huddling round the fireplace, they convince the Clerk of Oxford to inform a ghostly story of affection and demise that may extra relax their blood...

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He pointed to the deserted sentry walk high on the wall. ’ Beatrice and Marisa helped Lady Anne to collect the cups, empty bowls and jugs and take them into the chamber at the base of the keep. Scullions had prepared small vats full of hot water so the dishes could be soaked and washed. Beatrice chatted to Marisa for a while and then went back to the green. It was deserted now. The guests had dispersed to the latrines, or to wash or simply to walk off the effects of their feasting. Beatrice stood and stared at the large blue cloth, the great torches on either side, their flames casting strange shadows.

He wore a threadbare jerkin, patched hose and scuffed boots, and his cloak had more rents in it than it had cloth but he was neat and clean. His black hair showed early signs of grey and his shaven face always looked slightly sad. He constantly narrowed his eyes as if his sight was poor. A valuable copy of Aristotle’s Metaphysics accompanied him everywhere. ‘As I was saying,’ the miller drew himself up, ‘the local people rose in rebellion but the Normans crushed them with fire and sword. The survivors, men, women and children, sheltered here.

It had all begun that morning. They had started out, merry enough with the sun rising and all refreshed after leaving St Botolph’s Priory. They were on the road to Canterbury and the miller had announced in a booming voice that they would pass near Demonhurst Copse, reputedly one of the most haunted woods in Kent. Full of good ale and meat from the priory kitchens, the pilgrims had all demanded to be taken there. After all, wasn’t the weather good, the sun strong, the trackways firm beneath their horses’ hooves?

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