Scott phrasing the wording so as to avoid mentioning the
Six thousand brave men slain, offered as sacrifice.
As time passed the druí became the Druids. True evil
once again being accommodated, then overtaking.
‘Beware,’ the orbs had warned the druí. ‘Beware your
knowledge does not fall.’
Henrietta acknowledges that enslavement once again has
‘Henrietta,’ a clogging emotion overwhelms him. ‘Please Henrietta,’ his mind speaks ‘if you are here, say it is you, my dear?’
How foolish he is being.
Swinging himself around he stares at the strange, compelling dragon on the porcelain washstand.
Then a soft voice, “Uncle Arthur!”
He would move towards her only his trembling legs will
not allow him.
“Dear uncle? Are you well!”
“I surprised you. I did knock. Would you like to escort
me to lunch? Did I frighten you, uncle?”
As Arthur prepares to leave, he glances at the The Sign of
Four lying on the bed. “You like Mr. Doyle’s detective?”
Arthur links his arm into Annabell’s. “Now you and I
must go down for our meal.”
. . .
A whimsie! Bella is sure she sees one. There it is, up
above the servant’s hallway ceiling.
Meg and she have just come out of the interview with
the bony whippet dog, and whimsies are the last thing she
wants to see right now. Whimsies she calls these misty,
wispy things that she swears come from ghosts. It’s what
they leave behind them. Like humans leave from their behinds. Some energy they excrete she thinks. She’s asked
herself what they eat, and she don’t have no answers to
“We have all new water closets,” Meg is saying. “Well,
we will have working water closets when ‘lectric gets here. It’s on its way. Nearly up to Weatherby I hear. The Estate
near the moors has paid for poles this side of Weatherby. We will pay our share. Won’t be long, I’m sure ‘til poles get here, though likely not before the wedding.”
Meg opens a door. “Here ‘er is. What do you think!”
Bella stares at a sparkling white porcelain bath, at the
half-open, blue and yellow floral curtain.
Meg in a flight of fancy dances over to the brass canister
fixed behind the bath. “This is where the water comes out. But it only works when proper ‘lectric is on.” Meg twists
the shiny metal tap. “When it works as it should no more water to bring up. Pumps they say. Pumping machine
brings water up.”
Meg pulls Bella down to look between two of the claw
feet underneath the bath. A pipe disappears into the floorboard. “Ain’t that marvellous. Did you see such a thing?”
Meg sort of squeals as she peers at the pipe. “We can use
that now! We just have to bring up the water in toilet
Meg points at the far wall. “Miss Annabell has one of
these but bigger in her apartment past the hall.
“Miss Annabell has two windows being situated
on the corner. One looks to garden t’other to Hopkins’ land.
“There’s now a bathroom next to where Mr. Hews’
rooms are, over in the north wing. Built out of the big
closet that used to be there.
“Miss Annabell’s bath and the one next to Mr. Hews,
both have flowers, lavender they are, painted on.”
“You know. Like they do it. Burnt in, I think.” Meg
gets up from the floor where she’s been kneeling, arranges
the cream lace hanging around the bath so that once again
“The new water closet over here!”
Pulling open the floral curtain: “Squire said S’ziezes
paid for telephone. Said if they were going to be modern,
with electricity coming, he would have new closets put in.
He did the outside privies same time, all of them now with
“Used to be eight privies for the front of the house,
in the privy courtyard, and eight for us back where the
laundry dries. The Squire had them made bigger. Now
five in the privy courtyard, and five for us. New privy’s all
have washstands where you don’t have to get underneath
to bring up the jug.
“They built a big tank under the trader’s road and
put another tank under land near the greenhouses, for this
closet and for Miss Annabell’s.
“In the privy courtyard, the first closet is for the Squire.
But he’s put his brother’s name on that, I noticed. His
brother, Mr. George Bexfield is arriving on Friday from
India. The second closet is for Miss Annabell. Mr. Coulter
uses that one, and also Miss Emily. The rest are for guests.
“The Squire has placed Lady Middleton’s name on the
middle closet. The last two, one is labelled ‘Ladies’ t’other
“Our privies, as I say, are behind the front privy courtyard. The first one is reserved for Mr. McBride and the
second one for Mrs. Minton. Charlotte Appleton uses Mrs.
Minton’s privy. They’re the same age.
“The stable and Mr. Entwistle, the gardener, uses the
privy at the far end. Any men that come over, they also
“So that leaves two for us women: Lucy and me, and
now you, and Nelly. Nelly works in the scullery. All the
privies including ours have soap and towels and everything.
We have scented water in a bottle in both ours.”
Meg looks at Bella. “We’re all expected to wash our
hands and arms after going. Nelly’s mother Charlotte comes in twice a week to do the laundry, but she is working five days now with all the
guests. Appleton’s only live across the way. Wilfred, Nelly’s
father, works for the Briggs and they have a cottage on the
“As I said we still have to bring water up until ‘lectric
comes and does the pumping. Olath at the stables was
filling the front water closets three times a day. Now with
Olath gone back to look after his father, a man from Briggs’
farm is being paid to fill up the outside front water closets.
“A full toilet bucket is left at the side. He comes three times
a day, first in the morning before milking, so we don’t have to
do their side. He don’t fill our side. We take a toilet bucket
filled from the well when we use the water closet.”
Still holding the curtain, she lowers her voice, “Look at
this here new fancy closet from Chelsea! The Squire put it
in with the new baths. Isn’t it something!”
She touches her nose and holds it. “No longer with the washout bowls.”
Fondling the floral curtaining, pulling it around the bowl
to make it private, Meg sighs deeply. Then with a few
quick steps outside to the hallway, pulling Bella with her,
she adds: “Strangest thing, Squire didn’t have any new bath put in his rooms for himself, nor next to him where Lady Middleton stays. Said
he wanted to wait.”
Meg now skipping in front of Bella, goes all the way to the
north end of the servant’s hallway, stopping at a door on
the hallway’s west side.
Bella sees all kinds of things, dead solid things, ghosts
that look like wax things, and she looks up above Meg where
a misty whimsy is waiting.
Meg nudges the door slightly ajar. “This is our room.”
“The room we’ll share. Lucy’s and mine’s room, and
now yours.” Meg peeks inside, shrugs in a sort of despair. “I know well she wouldn’t be here and I did ask her to tidy
it. But she hasn’t.”
The door pushed open, Bella is greeted with floorboards, bare except for two thin rugs near each bed. On the
walls, brown and green floral wallpaper that looks like its
been there for centuries. A dress lies on the floor in one
corner, a bib cap and apron thrown on top.
Aghast she notes an open bottle of face cream by the
chipped wash basin, stockings half-falling off a chair. A
cotton nightdress spread over the other chair.
“We will bring down that bed that was used by Polly
in the room upstairs.”
“You will bring down a bed? From the room upstairs?
“Yes! There’s an upstairs room but it’s all in disorder.”
Panicked not just by where she’s expected to stay, but
by the whimsie that’s floating right towards her, Bella puts
her hand up to stop it from lowering itself over her.
“You have an upstairs room? Where you keep a bed?”
“I’ll tell Lucy to tidy all this up. It’s her clothes everywhere. I’m always telling her to be more orderly.”
“You have a bed upstairs!” Bella repeats hysterically.
“Yes, Polly’s bed. Polly’s old room upstairs!”
. . .
The rumbling of a carriage has the Squire putting down
his spectacles, going to the window. Constance reading,
places her book on the lamp table. “Who is it dear?”
“Good God. I think it’s George. If it is, he’s a day
early! It is him! He’s leaning out the window.”
“Leaning out the window!”
“Let’s hope he’s not drunk.”
Constance gets up, grabs Ronald by the waist, laughs as
she pulls him dance fashion towards the door. “Let’s hope
so, indeed. Wet kisses and mouthfuls of air that would
wither an Egyptian mummy.”
“If you say so my dear.”
As the carriage flips by the drawing room they do not
notice for they are both kissing.
The kisses finished, Constance grabs his hand. “Your
brother writes to me he’s become a model of respectability, Knobs.”
“You mean he no longer ogles the women!”
Outside, the butler has beaten them to the carriage.
The Squire, observing that George leans unsteadily as
he examines the bags being dropped, whispers, “Taken up
their ways, has he! Does that include a Hindu version
of Pear wine. Stand by your beds.”
But then George straightens up, looks around.
“Bless my soul, Conny, Ronald!”
“We saw you from the drawing room.”
George walks across to Constance and with more than a
slight peck, smiles cockily at her. “Cries when I leave. Not
a tear for my return. I’ve waited a long time to do that.”
Turning to Ronald. “Ah! Brother!”
“Ah! Brother what!”
He kisses Ronald on each side of the face, then on the lips,
the European style he has. “Nothing! Nothing! Where’s my
“Uncle George!” Annabell comes running down the
front door steps. Writing to him these many years, she
cannot believe he is really here. “I was up in Emily’s room. We heard the carriage, but I had to run to put something decent on.”
George stares at Annabell in her formal Venetian cotton
suit, deep red taffeta collar, silk trimming around the waist
highlighting her slim, youthful body. He doesn’t know if he
dare go up and kiss her. “Emily, your school friend!”
Annabell turns to pull Emily, who has half-way been standing behind her, forward. “My very best friend!”
Emily sort of bows.
George smiles, holds out his hand to which Emily touches
gently. “Here for this dreadful wedding my niece has got
herself involved with, I suppose.”
“Oh George,” exclaims Constance.
“Tush m’dear, the young are not the mooning idiots
Together taking the steps into the manor, the
Squire inquires, “But how did you manage to be here today!”
“Oh! That was easy. The boat docked early.”
“The completely full ship was to stop at an island. The family took sick just before boarding and were replaced and the ship being full there was no need for us to stop. Many had decided to remain on the ship for tonight, their carriages or accommodation planned for tomorrow, travel arrangements already made.
“Because of this the Captain had not cancelled the last
evening’s party. It would be a fine showing, he said. Then
a messenger come on board to tell me the hackney service had a carriage available if I wished. I told him I did wish and I am here! I thank you from the bottom of my heart for ordering from such a good service.”
“Good!” Ronald beams.
As they all enter the parlour, McBride takes orders and
begins to hand around the drinks.
“Yes, my dear!”
“We were going to have a welcome party, tomorrow
evening. But wouldn’t it be fun if we held it this evening
instead. If you are not tired! With Edward and his friend
Lawrence, and Mother Coulter.”
“One thing I never get when my niece requests is tired,”
laughs George. “Croquet and billiards have been the most
exhausting things I’ve been doing. I suppose I will have to
be nice to Enid!”
“I suppose you will,” says Ronald.
“I will go and telephone Edward.” Annabell grabs Emily’s hand as they run out the room.
“Is that the orange tinctured stuff, Conny,” George asks.
“It is and why would I change after twenty years.”
“Twenty-two, or is it twenty three,” laughs George.
Ronald gets up, picks up the bottle, hands it to his brother.
“From father’s cellar.”
“Really! Pater’s stock. You still have bottles!” George stares at the label. “I wish they were both here. It is the
only thing bothering me, not having them here.”
“You enjoy, Pune!”
“Yes. But I don’t mind leaving. I have a friend there,
a teacher if you like, Srinivas. He said it would be some
time before I came back to see him. He told me to settle
my affairs, so I did.”
“Yes!” replies Ronald. “Your rooms are ready. We were
able to get the exact same paper for the walls, so we did
that. The carpet looks sparkling new. Mother wouldn’t
have anything moved, you know. She said you would be
back. She said she wanted it just as it was.”
“She didn’t want me to go.”
“No! Your leaving took a toll on her.”
Annabell rushes in, “Edward has asked Mother, and
they are all coming. Mother is sending over Gwenda the
veg cook to help Mrs. Minton, and Lancard the pâtissier. He creates sauces as well as pastries. Isn’t that wonderful.”
“I don’t know if Mrs. Minton will consider it wonderful,”
the Squire mutters.
. . .
In the dining room three hours before Edward and his
mother are set to arrive, McBride, opens two bottles of Chambolle burgundy. Add an hour for pre-dinner drinks and the wine should be perfectly aired.
Chambolle has become a conversation piece between
the Squire and Mrs. Coulter after she went touring the
wine country along the Saône with the Squire some years
past. Enid’s first trip out of the country, or anywhere, since
Edgar, her husband, passed in ’92.
They’d diverted on a whim up into the steep sloping
Côte d’Or. Coming to an enchanting grouping of villages,
they both were taken with the speciality of wine from the
black grape. But once Enid had tasted the red Chambolle,
that became her passion, most especially
when visiting the manor. The Squire always keeps a healthy
stock in the cellar.
McBride has never forgotten the comment the first time
she was presented with a glass from him.
“Ummmmm!” She was not impressed.
Then she had come right out with: “McBride, the trick
is to air the bottle for several hours.”
Some time it took to get over the sting of her comment.
Not knowing how many hours ‘several’ meant, he decided
upon four. That seems to have the magic, for now Mrs.
Coulter will murmur: “Very expressive! Yes, as silky as
wine can be.”
McBride has opened three bottles. Mrs. Coulter seldom
drinks more than half a bottle when playing cards. But the
Squire himself has a taste for it and will join her. Who
knows if additional requests will come from the guests. That which isn’t consumed at the front will be consumed
at the upstairs back.
Nine for dinner. McBride cannot remember the previous
time the manor has had nine at the dining table.
The Squire restricted his guests to a touring judge and wife, if she had come with him on the tour. Dinner events given by the Squire
were done at his club in Biddiford.
The Manor was too far to travel out from Biddiford and return late in the evening comfortably, which meant having any invited group stay the night, and in the morning having to be social. That
is something Ronald major and Zona his mother enjoyed
doing, but not him.
A half hour before the Estate carriage is set to arrive,
McBride checks the table. Fruit stands and the small cake
compotiers each side of the flower centrepiece. Yes! Olive
dishes set correctly. Yes! Water glasses, wine stemware
in their correct sequence. Side plates exactly where they
The ivory-handled main course, fish, salad, butter, cheese
and fruit knives all seem to be in order. The soup spoons. Yes! One of the mustard spoons is nudged closer to its mustard. By rote he begins to count: four salt spoons and dishes, four pepper dishes and spoons.
He steps back to the wine table. This is the first dinner
the Squire and his brother will be having together, the first
since he has been butler. McBride is well aware Mr. George
as half owner of the manor is his employer. He wants to
make sure nothing is out of place this evening.
Placing a corkscrew by the still-corked bottles, the girls
have done a good job he thinks. He’ll let them know in
the kitchen he appreciates their thoroughness. Employment
should be told when appropriate.
Mr. George seems somewhat unconventional. He had
been preparing the bath in the bathroom that Mr. Hews
and Mr George share, when Mr. George getting into the
bath asked if her Ladyship went to the Squire’s rooms at
night. McBride is not an inexperienced butler, but this,
coming from the Squire’s brother. He had remained silent.
But then Mr. George had laughed and asked him again. “Mr. Bexfield,” he had had to say. “I never speak of private
“Oh!” The Squire’s brother had responded. “Very
Good! Admire you for that!”
Always the right approach, McBride muses as once more
around the table he surveys the settings. “Honest and frank,” two day past those words spoke by the Squire. He
told Missy and she said it was the quality she admired most
in him. “Best be with these people,” she’d said.
. . .
“George, you have grown older.”
“My manners prevent me from answering, Enid.”
Since George in his teens began to develop Enid and
George have had a sparring relationship. Especially his
thoughts of all this stuff that Enid Coulter believes rubbish.
Like her father she believes in production. You make an
item it will be bought. Enid is new money married into old
money. But Enid does enjoy George in his more Earthly
meanderings. She knows how the rich get into your purse.
She isn’t a fool.
Edgar Coulter, Edward’s father, is old money. He did
not need the new money that came with Enid, but she was
an only daughter and had lots of it. Edgar married for
looks, and she had fair share. She also had some charm
that mesmerized him, enough to make him fall decidedly in
Enid would not have married the young man had she
not felt reciprocal love. She is the daughter of her father.
Common sense and a feltness for all that she needs to get
through life makes the strength of her mind.
Enid Coulter did love her husband. The pain she felt
when he died, would, she has said often, have destroyed her
had it not been for Edward.
Edward was fifteen when his father died. Enid married
the handsome, twenty-three year old Edgar in the June of
1855. She was nineteen. Her daughter, Nicola, had not
come to them until October of ’65. Enid was 30 and what
a rejoicing that was. Nicola was taken in the winter of ‘79.
Edward arrived in Enid’s forty-first year, a month before
she would be forty-two. He was one year, seven months old
when Nicola passed.
Enid did not believe in angels, or religion, or God. She
did not know what those words meant. If God, or whomever
it was that decided these things, had determined to take her
loving, dear Nicola, then she wanted nothing to do with
him, or it. She thought if anything this God would be an
After Edgar's death, Enid modified her position by not
commenting on such matters. A strangeness took place. She
doesn’t understand what it meant.
“I told McBride you two could not sit either together or
be placed opposite,” the Squire says, laughing.
The banter continues through the drinks hour. Then,
hunger pangs developing, they move from the parlour into
the dining room, checking the dining cards amid comments.
When they are all seated, the Squire asks, “Would you
like to say grace, George?”
“You want me to say grace?”
“It was always your forte you know. Both Mama and
Papa said that. I have missed you, you know.”
“Well, I have been living in India.”
“I will say grace then if you wish. An acknowledgement
of thanks.” George closes his eyes. “We who come to this most
beneficent feast, Oh Soul-Spirit of each, your offspring who
sit around this table, we give you our greetings.”
George’s trembling voice becomes more firm as he speaks. “To the Soul-Spirits who have as their purpose given us
guardianship of the planet, who have given us this game
that we so righteously play, we ask that in the growing, in
the life and the fruit that we bring forth, that The Game
of which we are a part, continues in its abundance. We ask
also that the pursuit within our Self-Soul continues.”
George shifts himself in the chair nervously: “We take this moment to call upon those of The Game
that are with us unseen. We give you fair ones our greetings.
“For any spirit that might have need in its play, we call
you to your higher purpose. Know also, you Self-Soul. To our loved ones and the many Higher Awareness who in sport give magnificence, such entertainment for our diversions, may your jollity and wisdom continue to baffle us.”
“I suppose that has to do with, what? George?” It is
Enid Coulter who speaks. “Would you care to expound.”
George broods over that remark. “The Game you mean?”
McBride walks around the table handing out the soup,
salad and fish menu. The calligraphed letters of the butler carefully written
nine times for nine placements, reads: