The alehouse was a squat building, thick walled with wide low casements. Centre was the heavy wooden door, oft propped open if the weather be fair. The main room ran the length of the building with hearths at either end. A bar braced itself against half of the back wall; behind were the kegs of ale, while flagons, cups and bottles of wine were arrayed on shelving above. Most of the seating was benches along long tables. Scattered on the edges were small tables surrounded by a chair or two. Tapers placed on the deep-window wells, checked the darkness within; the light was a beacon for those seeking companionship and sustenance.
An arched passageway led patrons into a dooryard delineated by high hedges. From awakening til the first frosts of wintering, this area greeted those who preferred out of doors. All seating, save for a single low table, covered by a tapestry runner, with several stools set around it, was communal benches and tables. As dusk settles, lanterns on tall poles are sparked. This seasonal arrangement gave Mattersond the chance to bring more of his neighbours into the enterprise as servers. Girls on the cusp of womanhood, lads not sure if landing or prenticing was best suited wove between front of house and back garden.
Set into the passageway walls were two opposing doors. The one to the left was a kitchen of sorts – those who used the private rooms upstairs might bring along a cook and wait staff; all times the larder stored flat bread or small round loaves, cheese wheels, perhaps some dried venison, baskets of seasonal berries or woods mushrooms, brace of fowl, tubers and runner peas. Whatever might have come to him as barter for ale or wine. A wide hearth before the fireplace which had a strange contraption used moved pots and kettles on or off the fire. An area for washing and setting to dry the alehouse cups and platters, as well as crockery and finer serving ware for use in the private rooms.
The other door led to Mattersond’s private quarters. A low casement window looked out to his singular wishing garden. He added a bench, rebuilt the well house, and planted fragrants and a few healing herbs. The only access was by climbing out the window; there was no break in the hedge-fence.
His room was narrower than the kitchen to allow for more space in the alehouse. Therefore, all was compact. The surface upon which he did his accounting and scribed his annals was a shelf affixed to the wall in such a way it could be put flush against it, or pulled down for use. The bed was narrow with feather-pluffed bedding. Next to it was fitted a shelf to hold basin and pitcher. A faded tapestry served as a rug; wall-pegs held his clothes. A chest, with intricate exotic wooden inlay lid, with its various hidden compartments designed to defeat the cleverest of thieves, held the slight profit from the alehouse, and relevant documents.
The second floor comprised two private rooms, reached by stairs in the back of the building. These spaces might be reserved by those who wished to entertain their mistresses. Mattersond cared not if these assignations happened, as long as the man carried out duties to his children, and did not beat or berate his wife. Should these meals become too amorous, the couple was asked to take such activities elsewhere. Reserving the room, if the person brought their own serving staff, required that one of Mattersond’s assistants be stationed outside the room; usually this was enough of a reminder of the rules of the alehouse. This held for other sorts who might require the room: merchants; city functionaries; schemers and planners; even outlaws – keep things civil, quiet and confidential.
The building dated from a time when this was the country, with lander’s farms, and sheep meadows. The city ate at the edges of such enterprises. Parcels once holding dwelling now possessed two or three. What had been a wild road was now lined with stone walls. In truth, only Mattersond kenned the arcania; traces of the old ways and the ancients captive in the alehouse’s hidden cellar.
While this is a “sorta stand alone,” visiting this post will reveal previous jusjojan “tales from the alehouse”
And, yes, the language is pretty arcane – I have “written” this in my head as a first personal narrative/annals, hence the allusion to a less “modern” speech pattern – which, obviously, I haven’t entirely worked out. And, even toying with using the present tense! Had hoped to incorporate more challenges, but I am getting woefully behind in the jusjojan . . .