Wherein is tolde the Tale of our Venture, at greate perill to lyfe and limbe, unto the onfe thriving Village of Willy-Nilly-on-the-Wash, which has beene so cruelly brought Low by the Black Death, in this, the Yeare of our Lord, Two-Thoufand and Twentie.
Outside the Village walls our party Encounter’d a great wood henge, the Purpofe of which eluded even the wiseft amoung Us. Our Elderman noted in the carving above the Henge’s gate-waye a greate similaritie to the Sunne sculpture’s of the heathen Druids. Fearing the influence of the Adverfary, we burn’ed the edifice to ashe lest it cause Offence in the eyes of our Lord God Almighty in His Infinite Wifdom and Benevolence, for-ever and ever, Amen.
As we approach’d the watch-tower, we found the Villiage gates swunge wyde with nought to secure the Villiage against Brigandrie save the faith and goodwille of Christian men. We hailed and hearkened, but our pleas woulde gowe Unanswer’d. Upon a sign-poste we founde a warn-ing most Dire, and knewe then that the Worste lay a-head.
The Faire-grounds, onfe the pride of Willy-Nilly-on-the-Wash, and the envy of everie Village in the County, stood emptye and bereft of the life and merryment whiche onfe fill’d it. The Silence seem’d louder there and more hateful to mine ears than the bay-ing of a thousand Houndes, and twife as mourn-full. ‘Twas with haste we depart’d that unhallowed plafe.
Oure prayers sayd, sins confeffed, and Geisslerlieders sung, we ventured forthwith unto the Villiage proper. We Pray’d to find some Fewe survivours, but Alas! we were too late, as neither Man nor Beaste remained amoung the living. The greate feasting Halls which had onfe slake’d our thirst ande sated out bellys lie silent and colde, the tables bereft of laughter and spilt Ale. The sole inhabitant which still breath’d lyfe was a lone Hare, which waf jugged for our supper.
Our brayve and learn-ed Plague Doctor, bound by soveriegn Contracte sign’d and witneffed, shewed no Feare of contagioun nour Pestilence as he search’d in vain for Souls to whiche he might minister. But None were founde; the Great Mortality had taken the Villiage whole, and left our goode Sourgeon with nought to do save play Barbar to our Haire and Beardes.
We mayde our waye along the Thorough-Fare of the grande Bazaar, unwelcomed by the shutter’d shoppes and shelfs bare of Merchant’s wares. Not since the Plague of Justinian had a Villiage been curse-ed with Lucke so grimme!
We search’d hither and yon, yet found none alive. Not a Man amoung us disturb’d the silenfe as we took our Leave, so greate was our burden at see’ing such a Foule hand Fate had dealt this fyne towne. So it was that in the quietude of my owne minde that I swore an oathe that, if Providence allow, I would return to this place, this Willy-Nilly-on-the-Wash, before a twelvemonth and a day. And I prithee, O Lord, and all your Angels and Ministres of Grafe, that I should find lyfe retun-ed to this hamlet once more. Your humble Servant, Christopher of the Wode Hall, in this, the Yeare of our Lord, Two-Thoufand and Twentie. Amen.