We arrived as hero’s. I had shot such deer before, but never without an adult. My aunt’s cook, Robin, who in truth ruled the house, spied William’s fish. He made such a commotion over the fish that Will surprised me by giving it to him.
“In truth, I know little of cooking. Only the simple knowledge that this perfect fish will not be burnt but instead is going to England’s finest chef will bring me satisfaction.” Shakespeare said, handing over the fish with a flourish. The flourish was the most impressive part. Try to flourish with an enormous fresh fish. Shakespeare was a master at flourishing.
Robin took the fish but looked piercingly at Shakespeare. “Is my cooking then famous in Stratford?”
“Sadly your craftsmanship is not lauded in the manner it so deserves.”
“Then I must applaud your manners William but you must applaud my craft only after you have sampled it.” Robin said.
I must have jigged a bit with joy, realizing that my new friend was going to join us for supper, for everyone turned and stared at me.
“I have found but one way to judge a meal and a chef before I have sampled his wares.” Shakespeare said. “The touch of heaven that wafts from your kitchen betrays you as a master.”
Robin immediately set the staff to cleaning the deer as he took the fish off. Shakespeare tried to help them, but they refused.
“Robin expects things handled a certain way.”
“We don’t want to have Robin staring at the cuts then do we?”
“Robin sets a table in his own manner.”
“What would the town folk say if we let you go home all covered in blood?”
So instead I started showing William around the manor. We made a game of him guessing what the next room was and soon he was coming up with such dreadful and silly guesses that I was near choking as we approached each doorway.
“This then must be the room where you keep the hunting seals. Admittedly slower than dogs on land, they are the very reason that foxes no longer live in the sea.”
I sputtered as we went to the next.
“And this room we must never enter, because of the ogre that has claimed it as his own.”
“That be the great wardrobe.” I said.
“Tis truth if you open the door from left to right as you normally would. But if you were so unwise as to open the door from the hinge side then it is near certain that the Ogre would be upon you.”
“Then just to be sure I will be extra careful to only open doors correctly.” I said.
My aunt came and inquired of William’s family and then sent a servant to tell his family that he would not be home that night. In truth I think she was well pleased at my finding a friend and had no intention of letting young William escape.
That evening I was asked how I came to meet my new friend. I am sure that I embarrassed him somewhat as I related the entire tale, yet I also think it pleased him.
It was but a week later that my father came back from Ireland. He sent a few letters from Court and advised that they get me ready to go. It was nearly a month before he was able to get permission from the Queen to leave court. By then, my Aunt had sent letters mentioning my friend, William. My father upon meeting him, went to Stratford and asked William’s father if he could go with us to Wales. His father being a local politician was delighted and so Shakespeare spent Christmas in Wales with us. We hunted, got snowed in, and saw more castles than I thought were in all of England, let alone in Wales. At the end of our holiday, it seemed that my father was as loath to let William go back to Stratford as I was.