In winter’s tedious nights sit by the fire
With good old folks and let them tell thee tales
Of woeful ages long ago betid;
And ere thou bid good night, to quit their griefs,
Tell thou the lamentable tale of me
And send the hearers weeping to their beds.
Richard II – Act V Scene 1
Poor Richard of Bordeaux, most of what we know of his sad tale is what we find in William Shakespeare’s play. For all that it was mostly Tudor propaganda our man Will was a master story teller. No doubt he had picked up the habit from the good old folk of the Avonshire countryside where he was born. As a lad he would have sat around a fireside and heard stories of ghostly and unholy goings in the West Midlands. He himself had quite a few good tales of a ghostly nature for a winter’s tedious nights.
On a cold winter’s night – much like tonight – you gather around the warmth of a fire, perhaps you add to the warmth with a glass of something that burns slightly as it goes down. You listen to the wind howling through the cracks and rattle at the window pane; perhaps you start at the odd crack of a sudden spark from the fire; you take another swallow to stop the shiver you just felt as you listen to a story from days long past. A story that makes you move closer to the fire and away from the moving shadows. A story such as Montaque Rhodes James‘s The Ash Tree.
And so take your candle and now to bed – ignore that shadow on the wall and that creak is only your footstep on a loose floor board. After all you’ve nothing to be afraid of.