[William Falconer 06] - Falconer and the Ritual of Death

[William Falconer 06] - Falconer and the Ritual of Death Read Online Free PDF Page A

Book: [William Falconer 06] - Falconer and the Ritual of Death Read Online Free PDF
Author: Ian Morson
Tags: Fiction, Historical, Mystery & Detective
and spiky, surmounting a face that seemed to wear a permanent scowl. Today, Falconer could see the scowl was deepened by whatever it was that Bullock was peering at in the gap between the inner and outer stone walls. Crouching down beside him was a large man with a thick thatch of black
    hair and a full beard. He was carefully sifting the rubble in the wall and producing items that he handed up to the constable one by one. Falconer wondered if this was the body, and if so~ in what sort of condition it was. It looked very much like it was a skeleton.
    Falconer’s further progress had been halted by one of BullOck’s watchmen, several of whom had been recruited to keep the gawpers at bay. But when Bullock saw the regent master, he called down for him to be allowed through the cordon.
    ‘Come up, William. You will find this interesting.’ Bullock pointed at a makeshift ladder set against the stone wall. Never very happy with heights, Falconer hesitated for a moment, wondering whether the crudely cut and nailed crossbars would bear his weight. He was a man of heavy build, and his sedentary life had not helped in keeping him in trim. But he knew he would have to conquer his fears. He took a deep breath before hitching up his dowdy black robe and stepping on the first rung. If this were a body, it would be necessary to see it in situ before it was completely disturbed by the unknown man who was digging it out piecemeal.
    As his head breasted the broken wall, Falconer saw what the stranger was picking at: a full skeleton emerging from the rubble, with shreds of material still clinging to the brownishstained bones. As the man scooped the sand away, Falconer could see there were sinews still attached, and a fatty layer in some areas. He had last seen that some years before when he encountered a skeleton that had long been lying under the sands of Morecambe Bay. Until the tide had scoured it out once more. He had learned then about flesh turning to grease.
    He shuddered at the horrible sight, his gorge rising momentarily. Then the sensation passed, and he took charge of the situation.
    ‘Peter. Who is this man who is destroying all the evidence?’ Bullock squeezed his ugly face into the semblance of a grin. He knew that Falconer, who had appeared to be out of sorts for a number of weeks, was back on form with the unexpected discovery of a body. Even an old death, which is what this appeared to be, would excite him. Bullock didn’t know how long it took for a body to get to this state - he was more used to messy bodies on the battlefield in his other life - but
    he was sure William Falconer would know precisely. He pointed at the kneeling figure beside him, who was now examining Falconer with interest.
    ‘This is Master Mason Richard Thorpe. He is building a new hall here.’
    Thorpe, who was still crouching, had his head nearly at the same height as the regent master on the ladder. He smiled, and murmured a correction of Bullock’s statement.
    ‘A collegium , actually.’
    Falconer had heard that the demolition of the row of tenements was in order to build some magnificent hall devoted to the accommodation and teaching of students all on one site. But this was the first time he had heard the word collegium used to describe it. It suggested a fellowship of scholars devoted to study, and that was all to the good. But it also spoke of elitism, and he felt he still preferred the glorious chaos that was the great and tumultuous University of Oxford. He wondered whether, if scholars no longer commingled in the streets of the town and gathered willy-nilly in the various schools located in the lanes around St Mary’s Church, the marvellous exchange of ideas would become stifled. He tossed his doubts aside for the moment, reasoning that he must be getting old and reactionary.
    Besides, he had a suspicious death to ponder on, and the location of the body suggested foul murder. He stared into Thorpe’s bright and intelligent
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