Quantock Hall, early March 1848
“It’s your old dog, my lady.”
From her position at the threshold of the front door, Kate looked fireside, Cinders’ usual spot of repose. She knew something was amiss as she entered from her morning ride, by the upset expressions of Smythe, the butler, and Wade, a young footman. A sour and pungent odour filled the air. Kate thrust her riding cane at Wade and strode to the hound.
“What’s the matter, boy?” Kate asked, kneeling beside the dog on the hearth rug.
Cinders whined and struggled to rise, his hind legs apparently paralysed, a puddle of urine soaking the rug.
“He’s going to make a mess of it,” Smythe warned, wrinkling his nose.
“He wants to…
Farleigh Castle, Part II, mid February 1848
“The ginger beer should be settled by now,” Kate said as they climbed from the crypt and into the churchyard. “Would you like a drink, and a sandwich? Are you hungry?”
“Yes, almost always,” Hugh replied with a wink.
“Me too!” Kate exclaimed cheerily, then rued her indelicacy. That sounded unladylike. I must be more thoughtful. She felt and heard her stomach grumble. Oh no! I hope Hugh doesn’t hear!
Hugh extinguished the lanterns and left them on the top stair. They checked the horses, collected their various saddlebags, found a spot in the sunshine, protected from the wind by crumbled walls, and spread out a blanket. Hugh warily uncorked the bottles while Kate…
Farleigh Castle, Part I, mid February 1848
Kate slid the toe of her left boot into the stirrup, stepped off the mounting block, hooked her right leg on the top pommel, settled into the saddle, then twisted around to recheck her various leather bags while quickly arranging her skirt and petticoats. The chestnut mare she had selected stood patiently, a groom at her head. Hugh walked his selection, a tall dark bay mare, in a slow circle. Both horses were thoroughbreds, and guaranteed by the riding school to be reliable hunters.
“Thank you,” Kate said to the groom as she gathered her reins.
“Muh lady.” He knuckled the peak of his cap and strode away, dust rising from his worn…
Bath, mid February 1848
“Those are lovely,” Kate said, pointing to a set of blue glass goblets in a store window.
“Yes, my lady,” Isabel agreed. “I like the pink.”
They strolled slowly along Milsom Street with little purpose other than inspecting shop fronts, the wares displayed, and the fashions of the patrons ranging from tasteful to outlandish. Grey clouds and a cool wind kept Lord and Lady Beaufort in, but Kate had ventured out, accompanied by her maid.
Kate turned from the window and her gaze fell upon a man standing close by. Hugh Wansbrough, tall and lean, in a very dark blue tailcoat of fine wool with silk lapels, matching waistcoat and trousers, and highly shone black boots, carefully…