While Arthur was in York taking counsel, the Roman ambassadors were hustling out of England, in fear of their lives. Arthur refused the demand for taxes they conveyed and lashed out at them:
And I shall gyff you seven dayes to passe unto Sandwyche. Now spede you, I counceyle you, and spare nat youre horsis, and loke ye go by Watlynge Strete and no way [else] . . .And [if any] be founde a spere-lengthe oute of the way . . . there shall no golde undir God [that will] pay for youre raunsom. . .
Thus they passed from Carleyle unto Sandwyche-warde, that hadde but seven dayes for to passe thorow the londe . . .but the senatours spared for no horse, but [hired] hakeneyes frome towne to towne, and by the sonnee was sette at the seven dayes ende they come unto Sandwyche –so blithe were they never! And so the same nyght they toke the water and passed into Flaundres, Almayn, and aftire that over the grete mountayne [called] Godarde, and so aftir thorow Lumbardy and thorow Tuskayne. And sone aftir they come to the Emperour Lucius, and there they shewed hym the lettyrs of Kynge Arthure, and how he was the gasfullyst man that ever they on loked. (117)
“Gastful” Arthur will follow this same route to Rome, but for now, upon completion of the ‘parlement at Yorke,’ he, too, is heading to Sandwich:
. . . there they concluded shortly to areste all the shyppes of this londe, and within fyftene days to be redy at Sandwych.
I have no idea if Watling Street still exists, but I am heading to Sandwich as well.
But first, I spend a night in London. After going to two searing short plays with a young colleague about the dysfunction of marriage, we steady ourselves with a pint at a nearby pub. I calmly tell my colleague a bit of austere wisdom, the kind of philosophy you grow up with in an Irish Catholic family: ‘No one gets everything in life.”
I seem so centered as I say this.
But I have had dreams of late in which my house teeters on the brink of a precipice, about to slide over the edge. Still, I fully embrace this Arthurian journey now. The idea is taking hold in me: somehow, I will follow it all the way to Rome.
Looking at the map, I see that I will be passing by Canterbury on my way to Sandwich. Though not part of Arthur’s route—or at least it is not expressly stated—I am so close I decide to re-route my journey to visit this site of a different, and much more famous, literary journey.