Watching as their swinging lanterns wound down the drive like a writhing snake, he sat down upon the step to the house and stared out into the night, as though he expected Arabella to come running towards him. He imagined he was home once more at Petrovia, encircled by his beloved mountains, surrounded by his adopted family. He wished the events of the past eleven years could melt away and he could return to where he had felt he belonged, where he had been safe, and where he had achieved a purpose. But such wishes were in folly and, as Chloe ushered him inside for fear of damaging his own health, he pondered on the far-flung sisters he loved so much, praying each was safe.

“It is a short way from here. There is an overgrown corner of the walled garden. It is there.” She guided him to this discovery she had made, and he followed, anxious about what it might be. Arabella was not dressed for such an excursion and had to lift her skirts to walk over the dead briar, her dress catching and tearing the hem, but she did not seem to care. “Look,” she said, releasing her dress to point to a large marker which, as he stepped forward, Shorefield realised was a gravestone.

“Whose is it?”

“Harris George Portland,” she read. “Known to God and treasured by Him. Erected by his loving mother, Maria.”

 

“Portland’s brother?”

 

“And I did not know he had any,” Arabella whispered. “We do not know people, do we? Not really know them. We may cross paths with them, but it is only these markers which show us the love people had for them. That is what is missing, Mish. A marker to show how much I loved him. I want a grave for Captain Pottinger.”

 

“He is hundreds of miles away,” Shorefield stammered. “Is a marker not enough? Must it be a grave?”

 

“Does he not deserve it?” she asked, her voice trembling and her eyes welling. “This woman loved her son, but she did not love him any more than I loved Roger.”

Tenterchilt Book 3

... there was a knock on the house door.

“I shall go,” Beatrice chirped. “Anne has gone to town, and who knows what fun Penny is having trying to catch Jenny?”

She walked from the dining room as whoever was at the door once again hammered on the timbers. She pulled the door open and stared at the woman who stood there, but more so at the creature which sat on her shoulder, and made a cackling sound as it looked at Beatrice. Beatrice stepped back uncertainly as the woman smiled across. She was wearing a long coat, similar to the campaign jacket she had seen Colonel Shorefield wearing. It was fastened so that the only other item of clothing she could see were her strong leather boots which went up to her knees. Brown hair spilt from beneath a wide brimmed hat, which looked as unlike a bonnet as a hat could.

 

“Are you one of the gypsies?” Beatrice asked, unable to take her eyes from the monkey who sat on her shoulder. She stood back as the woman laughed.

 

“No, Beatrice. I am your sister.” She lifted the monkey down from her shoulder. “I am Catherine.”

 

“You are Auntie Cat?” she asked in disbelief, full of wonder at the bohemian woman before her.

 

“Must I prove it to you?” Catherine laughed.

 

Beatrice shook her head and stood back to allow her sister to enter. She was about to close the door when Catherine gave a slight laugh once more.

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