Quantock Hills, early December 1847
Applying some more tiny dabs of green, Kate sat back and tried to determine what else she could do to make her watercolour come to life. She liked sketching, but the joy of painting eluded her, unless it entailed adding small highlights to a drawing. This activity had been unexpected, due to Mrs. Crozier suffering a headache, so science and language lessons were put off for a day. Miss Nestor slumped by the fire, dozing, with her mouth hanging open. Outside the afternoon was cold, crisp, clear and windy.
Kate set down the paintbrush, tiptoed to her dressing room, and didn’t bother ringing for her maid. She changed into a…
Crowcombe Court, late November 1847
The hunt party pressed north-west, arriving at the Drove Road, the ancient stone-walled and beech-lined trading route running along the Quantock Hills from the Bristol Channel to the rich farmland of the south. They followed the beaten dirt lane to the Crowcombe Road and descended into the valley, walking their horses. After passing through a portion of the Carew’s private forest, the group split, with the master, huntsman, and whipper-ins guiding the hounds to the kennel, while the hunters returned to the stable square. Robert Carew cheerily aided Kate and Lady Carew in dismounting. Grooms took their whips and tended to the horses. They strolled towards the back of the manor with much…
Quantock Hills, late November 1847
When the Beauforts approached the village, Kate felt warm and comfortable with her outfit. She wore her hat down tight, finding it stayed in place quite well as they cantered along. Lord Beaufort reined in and brought his mount to a walk, Kate doing likewise. They greeted villagers and had to stop for a shepherd moving his flock from one pasture to another. Kate searched the roadway, rather hoping the ploughboy, Jeremy Connor, might appear, but only elderly people and children came into view.
“I’m serving as a whipper-in today,” Lord Beaufort said as they waited, “so most of the time I’ll be flanking the pack.”
“Does that mean I won’t see you?”
“You’ll see me,…
Quantock Hall, November 1847
Kate stood patiently behind her chair, speculating on how cold their luncheon would be. Everything was laid out, and the butler clearly perturbed with the delay; Lord Beaufort had yet to appear. A roaring fire in the hearth kept out the chill, but Kate and Mrs. Crozier still wore shawls as they waited. Presently, the clomp of boots approached, and the earl strode into the room.
“My apologies.” He smacked and rubbed his hands. “I had an early caller.”
“Good afternoon, Father,” Kate said, curtseying.
“Good afternoon, Lord Beaufort,” Mrs. Crozier followed in turn.
“Yes, good afternoon. Let’s eat.”
Upon seating and receiving their soup the earl slipped a letter from his pocket and started reading while he ate….