Chapter 2: The Remains of the Thatch Castle
The next day the tap room was overflowing with travelers. Not a space was left and many had to stand as they ate their lunch or drank their ale. Uncle Obel and two sixteen-year-old boys, Peter and James, he had hired were running around filling up mugs, taking away or bringing dishes to the kitchen.
Walter also helped in the taproom. At first his mother objected, but Uncle Obel was overwhelmed and Aunt Edith, who was running up and down the stairs helping with the inn, became exasperated with his mother. “Miriam, for goodness sake, let the boy help! We need all the help we can get at this moment.”
Mrs. Banny reluctantly agreed.
Two days earlier the rain had slowed and travelers began to transit into Asbjorn. The Swann Inn was the only place to get a warm meal and a clean room, but they were running out of space. Some travelers had to share rooms and even the attic was used. Walter hated going up there alone, but with so many outsiders coming and going it made it less solitary and frightening. For now, he didn’t have to be up there and was happy to work in the taproom.
When Alden came in to refill his father’s jug, Uncle Obel knowingly gave Walter a break from the chaos. The two friends squeezed into a corner of the taproom for privacy. Walter told him everything he had heard about Mr. Crabb, the other schoolmasters, and the witching hours.