3rd May 2013 Friday.
A slightly longer one than usual please bear with it and enjoy..
Let me take you back in time,to the quaint little village of Burley set deep in the New Forest. A young verderer, by the name of Robert lived. Verderers were administrators of the forest law and were set in place by William the Conqueror, so Robert did have some power.Also living in the village was his love Mathilde. Their love was given the blessing of Mathilde’s father,although Robert was an important man it was still advisable to be discreet. The couple would meet in the evenings on a forest glade just outside the village. This glade was commonly known as the ‘lawn’ this might sound to most people as nice piece of grass in ones back or front yard, but is actually a name for a grassy clearing within the trees.
They would walk there separately, and, separately each would pass the hovel in which an old woman lived. She would always be at the doorway stirring her cauldron, and both Robert and Mathilde would avoid her gaze because her look was malevolent, so full of contempt and hatred, that they would rather not see it’s existence.
The night before their wedding they both passed the old woman at separate times on their way to the tryst. As Robert approached the hovel he saw something incredible. There, fondly nuzzling up to the old woman was a stag a white stag. she spoke to it in strange guttural sounds and words, and it responded to her by breathing on her and rubbing it’s antlers on the walls of her hovel.
Robert seeing this shouted, “Leave the beast alone,it is the kings property.” The old woman glared at him with deep hatred showing in her eyes. The white stag ran off into the forest. The fact that was lowest of commoners upset him so much. He then went to meet Mathilde, and in the glade they talked and planned their future. Robert and Mathilde embraced each other completely forgetting the old woman and the superstition of bad luck of meeting on the eve of a wedding.
On their separate ways home Mathilde came upon the woman in the middle of the lane, standing and staring, her gaze was hostile and full of hatred and Mathilde scared had to run around her to get past and only felt safe when she reached the triangular green that marks Burley. That terrible glare haunted her in her dreams that night.
As Robert approached the hovel he noticed the door shut and no sign of the woman.He couldn’t admit to himself that he felt relief, but he felt that he was passing the hovel for the last time after one of his trysts with Mathilde, and it was so good that the woman was not there. But then he saw, staring at him from behind an alder stump, the largest black cat imaginable – and if the woman’s stare was malevolent, the cats stare was positively malignant. Robert stared back at the cat, then Schplatt, it spat the most disgusting flob of mucus into Roberts face. He screamed and clawed and rubbed the vile stuff from his face, but his eyes still burned. The cat leaped from the alder stump and was gone before Robert could react. While at home he washed his face as many times as the fetching of water allowed, and then it was his wedding morning.
All the musicians played and the vicar said his words and the wedding passed successfully, and the wedding guests dancing happily on the green. Then there was a shout and all stopped what they were doing and stared at the edge of the forest trees, there stood watching them, the sun behind it, was an enormous white stag. It is hard to stare into the sun, and the stag seemed to shimmer and change – perhaps it was not a stag, perhaps it was a wild boar, a huge wild boar foaming at the mouth charging at them. The screaming and shouting of the scattering wedding party, did not put the wild boar off, he was locked on chasing the bride around the grounds. She was screaming and being caught when Robert managed to throw a coat over it’s massive head,and he leaped onto it clinging to it’s thick heavy neck. It screeched, a terrible noise in between a squeal and a roar, it tossed the verderer over it’s head and gored him to death with it is tusks. It was a white stag rather than a boar that bounded into the nearby woods.
A vengeful party marched to the old woman’s hovel but she was already dead.On the face of the corpse was a smile. It was the first time any of the appalled party had ever seen an expression other than the look of hatred on the old woman’s face.
All within the vicinity of this story my own one begins, it was in the bar of the Queens Head, my friend and I went into the lounge bar where there was a roaring welcoming log fire. After ordering our drinks we sat and started to talk, we were waiting for a couple of friends. The fire probably tells you that it was cold outside, we thought we were the only ones in the bar, but we were not there were two old men sitting at a table near the fire. At first we took no notice, until we heard one ask the other how long they had been here in the bar. It might have been purely a play on words. The other in reply said “oh must be 90 years now.” We being very alert and clever and having our wits about us thought nothing of it, we just laughed at the thought that the two men, old they were, but not 90 years old. Both of us just thought the usual, two old men and too much ale inside of them. As we finished our drinks we went outside as we saw our friends coming down the hill. This time went back into the bar but went into the public bar, here we met with others to listen and lay music. My friend went to the bar to purchase another drink. He came back and put the drinks on a table, he pulled my arm and led me away.
“I just started talking to the barman about the two old men in the other bar, he said there is no one in the other bar only us two were there.” We both went through too other bar where we were only ten to fifteen minutes earlier and right he was, no one in there and no sign of anyone being there.