What came was more than help or less. Christians came and Jews came, bothmagicians, whores and thieves and all who'd traveled to the fair to buy or sell or gawk. Everybody with a nose for heydiddlediddle and danger ran to fill the square, and Godric too, his own great beak aquiver. He'd bought the hair of women cheap at nunneries where it was cropped and when the ruckus started up was selling it dear to Joans and Jills to plait into their own thin tresses.
Saint Margaret's door fell down at last.
The crowd pressed in like sheep. And Godric too. Inside there was a churchly dusk and quiet. Flambard and Haggai both had fled. A flock of Christians cowered around the stoup. A stout priest raised his arms in vain for peace. And then, for want of other foe, the crowd turned on itself. They went to it pellmell. The vengeful Jews were routed soon. Then it was Christian fists that bloodied Christian snouts, and Christian staffs that cracked hard Christian pates like nuts.
I myself was mounted on some knightly tomb, crowing like a cock and laying about me with a stick to clobber all who threatened me when all at once I heard a feeble mewing at my feet and turned to find this Peregrine Small crouched down for shelter there behind the tomb.
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Puddling the floor for fright, he stood, and, be it ever on my head, a brace of aproned Yorkshire cobblers saw him then and took him with his yellow beard for Haggai. They set up a cry and in seconds tore the clothes off poor Small's back. They aimed to mock how he was circumcised and work God knows what other mischief on his flesh, and had they only held him long enough to find his parts as whole as theirs, it might have saved his skin.
But Small broke free and Bed them naked down the nave. His soft flesh flickered white as milk as through Saint Margaret's shade he hooted eeeek! He doubled back then as I've seen hares do.
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Who can say but that he thought to find in me his only friend? And so I might have been indeed, but even as he threw himself into my arms, the pack was on him. The cobblers stabbed him with their awls in throat, breast, belly while Godric, drenched in blood, fell back beneath his broadbeamed, spouting corpse. The folly of the mob killed Small, and greater follies followed still. First, word went round it was the Jews that killed him.
They said that Small had come upon a Jew dishonoring a Christian tomb and pointed to the puddle Small himself had made to prove that they were right. When Small set out to drive the villain off, they said, six other Jews leapt forth. These six, it seems, the doughty Small did battle with, unaided and unarmed, till one crept up by stealth to pin him from behind while yet another jabbed him in the side just where the Roman lance pierced Christ.
Thus weaver Small died Peregrine the Martyr. Second, they claimed the blood of martyred Small worked miracles. A man born dumb prayed three whole Aves through aloud without one fault when but a drop of it was placed upon his tongue. A silver coin that chanced to fall in it was turned to gold, and from the holes the awls had dug, a mist was seen to rise that shaped itself into a holy cross.
Third, there were folk that vied to give as much as six French knives or a pair of ivory combs for a scrap no bigger than a leaf of the garment Small had bled upon. That garment was peddler Godric's Own, of course, for Small had bled and died in Godric's arms. He peddled it off in bits and pieces to the last dank thread, then slit a cat's throat on another still and peddled off as much again.
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He might be peddling cat gore still but that the mighty Flambard called a halt. Already a score or more of Jews had paid for Small's death with their skins, and Flambard feared that as the martyr's fame spread farther yet, more Jews would fall to Christian zeal. He knew that each Jew fallen was a 7ew the less to lay a golden egg whenever William Redhead cackled, so Flambard sent the word if Godric wasn't gone from Bishop's Lynn before the sun went down, he'd never see it up again. And Godric went. He paid for passage on a boat bound north and after three days' upwind battling reached an isle girt round with cliffs so steep there was no place to moor except an iron ring embedded in the stone.
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He had them make fast there, then scrambled up the rocks to wait until the boat was gone to work his stealth. Thus, Master Reginald, set down in your book how it was through a martyr's death that godly Godric's peddling prospered and how the chancellor of an anointed king was the one by whom he first set foot on holy Farne. I found an old H man sleeping on a bed of stone. Campion was everywhere and greywinged gulls. His lips were still, but had he opened them to speak my name, I think that I'd have followed to the world's far rim.
Later, I saw him bent over a spade. I called to him, but he did not even raise his head. When I reached the place where he had stood, I found him gone. I wept and wept I do not know how long. Then as I'd come to do, I buried all my wealth from Bishop's Lynn between a clump of heather and a fishshaped rock.
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I'd brought some cheese but had no stomach for it then. I'd told the boatman I wanted to do penance for my sins and bade him come to fetch me the next day. He said he would. He was a tall, rough fellow with a salty tongue, and yet I knew I trusted him. Great as my need for penance was, I watched the birds instead. There were blackbacked guillemots with crimson feet and gulls and terns so thick you would have thought that Farne itself had wings. The rocks were limed with droppings, the sea air salt and soft with spray.
I stood and heard above the surf the creaking sadness of the gulls. A little way apart rose great stone pinnacles like fingers from the sea, some broken off, some with their summits lost in cloud. If Aedlward's had been a giant's hand and turned to stone for birds to nest on, I think it would have looked like that. I wondered if the old man watched it too. That night I saw him yet again. Whether or not I dreamed, I did not know, but I saw him pick a moonlit path to where I lay and then sit down.
He put a finger to his lips and only then I saw he held a sleeping hare with silken ears laid hat against his fur.
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Glythwin is his name. He shall pray for you, Godric. Perhaps you know that when hares pray, the ears of God grow long as theirs to hear. Would you believe it, though? There was not one of them awake.
You should have seen the jig he did with one foot tucked beneath him like a stork! Farne had long been calling you, I mean, before you heard at last and came.
Is it not so, Godric? It was right you came to fold your wings a while and get your bearings for the flight to come. But your true nesting place lies farther on.