Nor Height, Nor Depth: A Novel
Chapter One (Revised)
Godfrey remembered the bells.
Years ago, when his father had taken him on one
of his rare journeys to London, they had stayed the night here, on the southern fringe of
the great forest.
Although he had been barely ten at the time, he had not forgotten the
stately and joyous peal of St. Oswin’s bells as they rang in High Mass.
Now, as he stood
at the abbey gate waiting anxiously for admission, he was comforted by the thought that
he would soon hear those bells every day of his life.
“You’re certain I can’t change your mind then,” a voice said from behind,
breaking roughly into Godfrey’s reverie.
“No, Father,” Godfrey said.
“There’s no turning me back now.”
At least, not by
your hand, he added silently.
Finally the wicket opened and a toothless porter stood before them, squinting
despite the mildness of the morning sunlight.
“The abbot will see you now,” he lisped.
Godfrey had hoped that perhaps they would open the great gate as a token of
welcome for their new novice, but perhaps profession was so common that it had become
a matter of routine for the abbey.
Besides, the young man reminded himself, the life of a
monk was one of humility, and passing through the small wicket would be an excellent
remedy for a swollen head.
Still, he would have been gratified by some show of
appreciation for that fact that he was about to dedicate his life to serving here.
He and his
father passed single-file through the narrow doorway, and as they did the porter tapped
Godfrey on the shoulder to say, “Welcome to St. Oswin’s, my boy.”
Then he smiled, the