You and I decide to wander around Cambridge in 1609, the year that George Herbert entered Trinity College and came to the attention of King James.
Indy Beagle, upon hearing of our journey, decides to go with us.
We wander first into The Eagle and the Child, a pub in Cambridge that William Shakespeare was known to haunt. The locals call it The Bird and Baby. It stands opposite the oldest building in Cambridgeshire, the Saxon church tower of St Bene’t’s church which dates from around 1025. A tavern has stood here since 1353, famous for selling beer “for three gallons a penny”.
I ask the bartender if he knows a young man by the name of George Herbert. Without looking up, he shakes his head “no.”
Behind me, I hear Indy say, “Can we buy you a pint?”
Shakespeare is sitting alone at a table scattered with ink-stained papers.
“Sit,” says Shakespeare, as he pours wine from a jug into three wooden cups. The cups slosh a little as he slides them across the table. He looks down at the papers. “This new play I am writing is shit.”
Indy leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Cymbeline.”
“It began as a tragedy but a comedy now emerges. Coming hard on the heels of Julius Caesar, Hamlet and King Lear, the audience won’t know what to think.” He takes the pile of papers off the table and drops them onto the floor beside him. Holding high the empty jug, he shouts, “We’ll have no more of this rancid red! My friends insist on the good Italian!”
The Italian red was definitely better; so good in fact that Indy and I do not remember leaving the pub.
Do you remember what happened?
Each week, we feature a new end-of-the-story written by a member of the Rabbit Hole Tribe. Today, Huntley Ketchen tells us what happened next.
The year of our Lord 1664
After many hours and much wine you and Indy had grown accustomed to the dank, pub air heavy with smoke, permeated with the aroma of unwashed bodies failing to appreciate the clean night air. We followed a passing hay cart, the smell of fresh mown hay eliminating the sour smells of gutter sewage and the like.
Shakespeare hired a link boy to light our way, little did we know he was a cutpurse bent on robbing us as arm-in-arm you three shouted out ribald verses of song.
Of a sudden the scant light showed we were at the end of an alley, the silhouettes of several brutes barely visible. A heavy Cockney accent demanded our money or our lives. Right then I knew we were in deep shit.
Shakespeare started reciting threats by Macbeth. To no avail. Indy’s hackles went up. Never a good sign. The Wiz clenched his fists. I’ve seen him do this before. I knew we were going to be killed.
Whoosh – thunk! Whoosh – thunk! Woosh – thunk! Three dead men, with three arrows in their chests, and it wasn’t any of us. Dropping the torch the cutpurse ran away. What new threat was upon us?
Entering the circle of light a tall slim man dressed in green livery swept his hat while bowing low. Picking up the torch displaying a youthful clean shaven countenance he said, “My Lord Shakespeare, I recognized you leaving yonder pub and knowing that link boy as a cutpurse, decided to offer you my protection. Ever your servant, my name is Robin Hood. Allow me to offer you and your companions safe journey home.”