The Tanner’s Daughter – Episode 21

Jane is reunited with Margery Illustration: Mandy Dixon

Jane, while overjoyed to be reunited with Margery, was concerned about the district in which her friend had taken lodgings.

But, as Margery pointed out, beggars could not be choosers and, given time, her trading in innocent cures and scented toiletries would pay off and she would be able to move to better rented quarters.

In the meantime, Jane visited the squalid room in the lodging-house on Pepper Street often and discreetly.

She never ventured there without the armed escort whom Will provided – a man of few words, swift responses and eyes and ears that missed nothing.

With him at her side Jane made the journey through the foul streets in perfect safety to Margery’s door.

Always, on leaving, Margery issued the same warning.

“There could be trouble brewing. Trust no-one and be on your guard.”

And always, Jane gave the same solemn response.

“I shall do as you say. Farewell for now, and keep safe.”

A few days into November, Jane and Will were summoned to the Grey Friars office of the late Nicholas Hatton’s trusted man-of-law, Henry Sandon.

He was a dry stick of a man in his mid-fifties, with shrewd eyes in a thin, clever face, well-groomed grey hair and impeccable linen.

He sat behind his big mahogany desk and surveyed the young couple with a small smile.

The room smelled of ink, old leather-bound ledgers and tar from the fire of sea-coals that burned in the black-iron grate.

It made Jane want to sneeze and she took out a kerchief scented with a drop of one of Margery’s blend of oils, a recent acquisition for which Jane had insisted on giving payment.

Henry Sandon cleared his throat.

“You will be wondering why you are here. I shall come straight to the point.

“Jane, my dear, shortly before your father became too infirm to walk abroad, he came to me with a request.

“Unbeknown to yourself or your husband…” he delivered a genial nod in Will’s direction “… my client procured a premises on White Friars Lane, which he thought suitable for a project you, sir, had in mind. A glover’s business.

“It was to be an extension of Hatton’s Leatherware and my client bid me waste no time in drawing up the leasehold agreement on the property, and setting aside a moderate sum of money for any necessary refurbishment.

“This, you understand, is funded from my late client’s personal savings and in no way infringes upon the firm’s finances.”

Jane and Will could only stare, dumbstruck.

“You are surprised.” Henry Sandon’s lips again twisted into a smile. “Don’t be.

“Nicholas and I enjoyed a lifelong friendship. I knew him well enough to trust his judgement implicitly.

“He had every faith in you, Will – I may address you thus? Good, good.”

He withdrew a sheaf of papers from the desk drawer.

“Here we are. This document outlines the terms of the lease and ascertains that this area of the business, Will, is yours and yours alone.

“My late client wished me to assure you that he had no desire to go behind your back in this matter.

“Suffice to say that to save difficulties, he felt it necessary to act himself. I think we can understand why.”

He threw the pair a glance that said all – the Guilds, the town authorities, the scheming, sniping and the back-handed exchanges of money, all designed to thwart a newcomer to the city of his rightful means to realise a dream.

Many times had Will tried to obtain quarters from which to run his gloving enterprise, only to be thwarted at every turn.

Thanks to Nicholas Hatton’s foresight, Will now had the means to go ahead with the venture.

“Sir,” Will stammered. “What can I say?”

“Say nothing. Just do me the goodness of signing your name here, and again here. Then ’tis done.

“All in triplicate, you understand. One copy to remain with me, another for your good self and a third, sealed, to be kept in a strong-box at the new premises.”

They left the man-of-law’s dusty domain shortly afterwards, the keys to the premises on White Friars Lane in Will’s doublet pocket, the two documents stowed safely away in the long pocket of Jane’s cloak.

To be continued…

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