The Weavers’ Guild House was in Bolton Street, a block over from Christ Church Cathedral, which meant another walk, uphill and through several cross streets until they reached the east-facing brick building. The Guild House wasn’t a stand-alone building but an attachment to a house that had a workshop attached to its other side. The workshop had the legend “Joshua Weaverson, Master Weaver” over the main door, while the sign over the Guild House door read, “Weavers’ Guild, 1850”. Briony, flanked by Mr Niwa and Mr Tanaka, went to the unmarked door of the dwelling in the middle and used the doorknocker to rap loudly.
There was an audible call of “Coming, coming, wait a minute,” from inside the house, then a few minutes later as the door opened. “Now, who’s here at this time of night?” The speaker was a middle-aged man with grey hair who was wearing a dressing gown, tightly girded against the night. The dressing gown and its matching slippers were woollen in shades of red, rust and yellow, and held multiple protections against blows and stabbings in the patterns worked into them. He recognised Briony and smiled, “Miss Peters! Your cousin, Alf, said you might come by. He’s sleeping in the guest room after riding down to fetch the doctor for your uncle. But who are these gentlemen, and what do you have there?”
“Master Weaverson,” Briony bobbed her head politely, “these gentlemen are also trying to recover stolen property from our thief, property that we believe he put in here,” she indicated the box she was holding with her chin, “along with the patterns his thugs stole from my family. The problems are that we all want someone we trust to go through the contents of the box to make sure that we get all of our own things back, without any tricks or sleight of hand,” Maser Weaverson nodded in acknowledgement and then Briony added, “and the box appears to be a stolen master weaver’s pattern box.”
“We’d better take this into the Guild House then.” The master weaver stepped out onto the veranda and pulled the door closed behind him. “This way please, everyone. There’s more room for this sort of thing in the Guild House, plus that’s where the records of stolen or missing pattern boxes are.” He looked sharply at Briony at that point, but she kept her eyes downwards on the box.
Master Weaverson unlocked the big double doors, and revealed a small foyer gently illuminated by the light shed from a narrow loom-width of wall hanging. It was more than enough light for him to usher everyone in, close the doors behind them, and then open the large meeting chamber beyond. This room had a pair of the glowing wall hangings but Master Weaverson lit the partly used, yellowish candles in the four candlesticks on the big meeting table to greatly brighten the room. Then he went over to the sideboard that sat against one wall, took a folded cloth out of one of the drawers, and then laid the cloth out on the table.
After that he spoke again, “Now we can all see what we’re doing, and I’ve taken precautions to protect the contents of the box from unexpected damage, do you think you can let me see what we’re dealing with, Miss Peters?”
“Yes, sir.” Briony carefully put the box down on top of the cloth. As she did so, she couldn’t help but notice that there was a cleanliness Utility woven into the square of fabric.
“What do you think?” That was Sir Charles to the Master.
“Oh, it’s definitely a Master’s pattern box,” said Master Weaverson. “Do you have any idea whose?”
“I believe the marks to be those of my grandmother’s grandmother, Master Weaver Enari Midson,” answered Briony. “I wish to register the claim of my grandmother and her cousins to any patterns of Master Midson’s still remaining in this box.”