English85 Chapter1

English85 Chapter1 - Christine Schott Nor Height, Nor...

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Christine Schott 1 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
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Schott 2 lower half of his face collapsing into his gummy mouth, his squinty eyes disappearing entirely into a mass of wrinkles. Godfrey smiled wanly in return, clenching his teeth to make sure they were all still there. He and his father followed old man down the neat dirt path from the gate to the cloister, and Godfrey watched with a mix of apprehension and awe as the graceful stone buildings of the abbey came into view around the bend, clustered at the top of a low hill in an orderly, fraternal fashion that was somehow comforting. The chapel itself stood on the far side of the square cloister, its roof and bell tower outlined against the morning sky but its body obscured by the other buildings of the convent. The porter led them to the nearest corner of the cloister, where they passed through an open door and turned right to continue down one of the covered walks. The gray masses of other buildings formed the outer wall of each walk, but on the inside only glassless arched windows and railing of impossibly thin carved stone separated the pathways from the grassy central garth. No one was stirring in this yard, but the early sun glinting on dewdrops gave the place a peaceful, even cheery aspect. Where the walk turned and continued to the left, the old porter shuffled straight ahead through one more arched portico, and they found
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This note was uploaded on 04/25/2008 for the course ENG 085 taught by Professor Rotating during the Winter '07 term at Dartmouth.

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English85 Chapter1 - Christine Schott Nor Height, Nor...

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