What is it like to be a teacher-to see one's great aspirations for his or her students bent, broken, or re-fashioned by the twists and turns of fortune? Now at the very end of his life, Robert Henryson looks back on a time of great tumult. Based on an event from Scottish history--the hanging of certain retainers of King James III by disgruntled Scottish noblemen at Lauder Bridge in 1482-the novel follows the lives of four characters whose lives are inextricably linked to one another by the fatal event at Lauder and by their relationship to Henryson, their old schoolmaster.
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Master Robert Henryson has spent his life shaping the talents of his
students in Scotland. But what control, if any, can he have over the twists and turns of Fortune’s wheel? Especially when the only law that reigns belongs to the rich...and turns a blind eye toward injustice and the poor?
Now at the end of his life, Henryson looks back on the chain of events that catapulted four of his students—Ingram, John, George, and the lovely Isabel—onto paths they could never have imagined. Nor could Henryson have dreamed that the summer of 1482 would change everything about his life...and perhaps, even, his country.
A hoarse choir blessed him in the howling storm. He pulled up his hood and turned his mule to go; but as he did so, he heard one voice among the rest: “Jesu bless you, Master Robert Henryson.” He turned about in his saddle to eye the leper flock. Like him, they had all bundled up against the cold, and the speaker could not, or would not, be identified. At the time he had wondered whether his cowl had perhaps muffled part of the benediction laid upon him. Perhaps it was only his imagination. Perhaps it was the wind. Whatever confusion he had felt then, Robert now knew, in these his dying hours, that the voice sounded the first click of Fortune’s wheel past her highest point.