The Dog and the Bastard and Other Oddities of History
By Jeff Baker
Talking with dogs is one thing, but this was one time I should have gotten a tape recorder.
“There are advantages to being a reincarnate,” Montpielier said, nuzzling the chair I was sitting in. “Go on, scratch my ears and I’ll tell you about it. Ah, right there! Yes!”
Montpielier had a silky coat, cold nose and big brown eyes. I knew if I kept scratching he’d tell me more. I was right.
I haven’t always come back as a dog (Montpielier said.) I’ve been a man several times. A woman too, but I digress. I was a young man named Stephen of Golweck from about 1056 or so. In England. I worked for His Majesty King William the First, also known as William the Conqueror, and let me tell you that last sobriquet wasn’t given him by any women he knew. Most of us who worked for him thought of him by his other nickname: William the Bastard.
Anyway, back in 1086, Big Willie decided since he owned something he wanted to see exactly what he owned. So, he sent out a bunch of us, myself included to do a survey. Armed with nothing but paper, ink and quill. Or, as one of my fellows said: “The bloody king is in his counting-house, but we’re the ones doing the bloody counting.” Anyway, we went up north, trying to find a route where there was a tavern on every road, those were basically the motels, and we took our survey. Yes, the one that got called the Domesday Book. Sir Anthony, a real piece of work, kept quoting the bit about Caesar calling for all the world to be numbered.
Everything went fine, and we were managing to write down everything without making a lot up, when we ran into some trouble with a group of soldiers who didn’t work for the king we were working for. We ran and left our notes behind. They were safe, in a metal box in a cave but we didn’t go back for it like we planned, we took another route and bypassed the King altogether.
“As a matter of fact,” Montpielier said, pausing to bite at a flea, “we didn’t even finish our survey. So the so-called Domesday Book was off by about an entire section of the country.”
“Thus affecting the course of history?” I asked.
“Probably not,” Montpielier said. “By the time we made it back to court, King William was dead and the new king didn’t know who we were. Anyway,” the dog stood up and sniffed the air. “Open the door will you? I have to take a survey of the yard.”
AUTHOR’s NOTE: I owe this story to a jumble of sources including a ramble through the internet that led to an article on the Domesday Book.