Authors: Daphne Coleridge
Tags: #Traditional British, #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General
It was recorded in the Domesday Book that the Lord of the Manor of Claresby had the exclusive right to hold both a fair and a market on his land. As a descendant of the Mortimer family, who were named in the 1086 entry, Laura had reintroduced the tradition of the fair. Since discovering treasure in the grounds and restoring the family’s fortunes, she had also revived the medieval tradition of a celebration on the fifth of January to mark the end of the winter festival considered to begin at Halloween. This was only the second year that this particular event had been held at Claresby Manor since its reintroduction, but the pattern had been set for the provision of a hot winter punch and a hog roast, as well as cakes and fruit juice for any children who attended. Entertainment included musicians playing medieval and renaissance music from the gallery in the Great Hall, as well as a raffle to support the village church.
The evening of Twelfth Night proved to be cold but dry and everything was merry within the Hall as villagers chatted and danced. Laura surveyed the scene with satisfaction, before returning to the kitchen to see that everything was under control. Phil Young, ably assisted by his teenage son, was carving the pork which was piled into rolls and carried away by the tray-full to the hungry revellers. He was a big, ruddy faced man in his fifties with an impressive beer belly and bright blue eyes. He smiled at Laura as she entered,
“Everything going well? It sounds like fun out there.”
“Oh, yes – you must come and join us soon; you look as if you are almost done out here. The food has been splendid.”
“Always good to be appreciated,” replied Phil with a hearty wink. “By the way, there may be a bit of a surprise for you in a while.”
“Oh?” said Laura uncertainly. “What sort of a surprise?”
“You’ll just have to wait and see,” replied Phil enigmatically.
Laura went back to join Rupert and conveyed to him what the butcher had just said.
“I do wonder if he was put out by your not buying a turkey from him,” mused Rupert. “It is interesting that the delivery of gifts stopped after the five sausages at the point when I confirmed that I wanted Phil to provide the hog roast – perhaps I should have sorted it all earlier. Anyway, all’s well that ends well.”
“But how do we know that it has ended well until we know what Phil means by a surprise!”
“I suppose we will just have to wait and see, like the man said.”
Events continued to be a success and Laura ate some hog roast, drank some punch and danced an excitable sort of reel with her husband until the exhausted musicians went to take some refreshments. The celebration was set to end at midnight, but at fifteen minutes before the hour the partiers were distracted by the sudden striking up of music outside. Looking out onto the lawn, which was flooded with light from the house, they saw a Scottish Pipe Band of about a dozen players with bagpipes and drums. Everyone gathered by the windows to watch and clapped appreciatively at the end of the first tune. A second struck up and as Laura enjoyed the spectacle she found Phil at her elbow.
“Had I mentioned that my brother played in a pipe band?” said Phil with a grin.
“No – how wonderful – and it looks like we’ve got our drummers and pipers all rolled into one!” exclaimed Laura happily. “But I think we had better ask them in for some hot punch. It looks like our party is going to go on into the early morning after all.”