Fantasy Mystery Comics Non-Fiction Fiction

The Leper of Saint Giles

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Leper of Saint Giles (1981) Ellis Peters

Set in England in 1139.

Brother Cadfael is taking medicines to the leper hospice when the trains of the soon to be married older man and young woman come by. The man leaves much to be desired.

He had drawn close enough now to observe what manner of creatures they were who bobbed and peered and pointed excitedly about the little church, and along the churchyard wall. It did not please him. The black eyes, like small plums embedded in the hard dough of his face, turned dusky red, like smouldering coals. Deliberately he wheeled his horse to their side of the road, leaving the opposite verge, which was wider, and mounting the grass on the near side, and that solely in order to wave the miserable rabble back to their kennels. And his manner of waving was with the full lash of the riding-whip he carried. Doubtful if he ever used it on his horse, blood-stock of this quality being valuable and appreciated, but for clearing his path of lepers it would serve. The tight mouth opened wide to order imperiously: “Out of the way, vermin! Take your contagion out of sight!”

The girl is something else entirely.

The girl might have passed by without so much as noticing them, so deep was she drowned in her submissive sadness, if the child Bran, all shining eyes, had not so far forgotten himself as to run halfway down the hillock for a nearer view. The flash of movement in the corner of her eye caused her to start and look round, and seeing him, she came suddenly to life in the piteous contemplation of an innocent even more wretched than herself. For an instant she stared at him with nothing but horrified compassion, and then, seeing that she mistook him, seeing that he looked up at her smiling, she smiled too.

One of the things that interested me most in this story was the leper hospice. I know leprosy was a terrible disease that did awful things to those who suffered it, but I never particularly thought about the lives of those sufferers and how they might live out their existences.

As always, the book gives a good mystery, a lovely story, and some thoughts about the world.

The grace of God is not endangered by the follies or the wickedness of men.

I do like this series.

Rating: 8/10

Categories: 8/10, British, Historical, Mystery, Re-Read     Comments (0)    

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