Crowcombe, late October 1848
“May I carry the hamper?” Hugh asked with a proffered hand and a slight bow.
“If you wish.” Kate passed the basket from a kitchen maid to Hugh. “Thank you, Pixie.”
“My lady.” The small girl hurried from the front hall, her long frizzled orange hair bouncing wildly.
“Pretty,” Hugh said quietly, “but such a vacuous countenance.”
Kate hadn’t heard the words used together before but recognised the Latin for empty or void. “Yes, innocent – possesses little understanding of man’s less noble traits. She does learn tasks well. A wise woman, Mistress Maddie, is teaching her a great deal. It was through her we received details of…
Quantock Hall, late October 1848
Kate paced the corridor in the medieval portion of their home, into the front hall, hesitating a moment, then climbed the stairs and entered her dressing room. All was quiet. She peered out a window, hoping for the approach of a carriage. Nothing, the lane empty but for wind-tossed leaves. This is killing me. I could be out for a ride. Kate removed her red Scottish bonnet and threw it on a chest of drawers. She perched upon the stool at her toiletry table and stared into the mirror, examining the carefully applied hints of cosmetics around her eyes, the neatly arranged braids and tresses of her long shiny black hair,…
Quantock Hills, Somersetshire, late October 1848
Kate wandered through the burial ground beside St. Mary the Virgin Church in Holford. When she was a little girl, the red stone structure lay derelict, known to be haunted by a Roman Catholic priest who had refused conversion and then executed during the reign of Henry VIII; a lesser known martyr of the Reformation. Recently rebuilt and refurnished the church appeared neat and proper, but the burial markers still proved somewhat eerie, especially at this time of year as the days grew shorter and nature prepared for winter. Kate spent a few minutes considering the lichen covered gravestones, and wondered what noble knights lay beneath. She gathered the skirt…
Wells, Somersetshire, October 1848
“You’re doing it again!”
“What face?” Kate swivelled and examined her distorted reflection in the glass of a window.
“You’re not doing it now,” Jane snapped. “You’ve stopped.”
“You pout, or purse your lips, and raise your eyebrows, and cock your head, looking very doubtful! It’s not an acceptable expression, especially when your mother is stating an opinion!”
“I was thinking, not doubting,” Kate said sincerely, hoping to calm her step-mother.
A beautiful autumn morning, they stood bathed in sunshine by the front door of the Swan Hotel in the town of Wells where they had…