Archive for May, 2021

Gray Lace-part 3


Page 11 – where our hero fights a nervous stomach and why

In the late afternoon a dozen men gathered in the handsome, but smoky, interior of the hunting lodge. The great room displayed several badges of past hunts. Trevor thought the local taxidermist must be busy as well as accomplished. The heads appeared truly alive. There were varying sizes of black bear staring back at him as if they knew he was a novice. Foxhunts, of which he had only tolerated as a host on his estate in Kent, would be on his resume, if he had ever need of one. He had unwillingly killed those tiny creatures, nothing like these monsters.

All types of weapons were stored in the numerous tall wooden glass-door cases lining the east and west walls. The knives, pistols, shotguns, and rifles stood at attention waiting for the owner to release their fury and ugliness.

Edgar Cranfield led Trevor toward one of the cases and asked, “Are you ready to let this city-boy show you how to hunt in the American swamps?” He laughed at his guest, “You’re a bit green. No worries. I won’t tell sister.” He nudged him with his elbow none too gently. “The females of Cranfield clan think we’re researching investments, not spending them.” He turned to include a bull of a man dressed as a country gentleman. “Coffman, I’d like you to meet Quinlan Mercer of Standard Oil, New Orleans. He’s the fortunate owner of this camp. Mercer, this is my soon-to-be-brother-in-law, Trevor Coffman, Earl of Warrenwood.”

At the mention of Eloise Cranfield, Trevor’s stomach muscles twisted in guilty anxiousness. Their trip south from Boston would have been smoother if Edgar had not talked about his sister, the nasty negatives of marriage, and how to avoid them, quite so often. The final marital decision had been a reoccurring theme. Calendars and financial statements flashed and his stomach would twist yet again.

Edgar pushed him with his usual sarcasm, “Coffman, why so tense? Remember, why do today, what you can avoid until tomorrow??” He swallowed the golden liquid in his glass.

“What’s he avoiding? Marriage?” Mercer’s cigar smoke made Trevor’s eyes water. “Can’t say I blame him, unless he’s after your Bostonian money.” He belched out a mean laugh that shook his frame. “Although, I think we have a temporary remedy,” He nodded at someone standing outside their conversation.

The double doors opened and several giggling females turned all the make heads. “Ah, your Lordship, enter our other type of hunting. We Americans can provide a variety of prey.” His wicked laughter stopped when he stuffed his mouth with his cigar and surveyed the dispersal of imported prostitutes.

Enough! (but more later)

Isn’t technology fun !?! I have no idea where that bird flew in, but at least the swamp fits the story.

Enough !!!

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Last week I introduced Lord Coffman, who hunts for an heiress bride to save his neglected estate in England. Trevor travels by train from Boston to the swamps of the Carolinas with his future brother-in-law to an elitist hunting camp.

To Continue…

Trevor glanced back at the vision offering him a needed cup of warmth. He took the small tin and savored the liquid gliding down his throat. He smiled at her over the lip of the cup and would have missed her surprise, if he’d been his usual self-absorbed gentleman. Returning the cup, he thanked her and hesitated. He wanted to hear her voice again.

Instead loud and irritating American manners ran ragged fingernails down his spine. “Let’s go and impress some of these swamp people with your title.” Edgar Cranfield jauntily walked ahead, ordering the staff out of his way, using his walking stick and his worst arrogant style.

“Please excuse him,” he begged of the vision. “He slept through our Oxford manners class.”

She gave him a short-crisped bow of acknowledgement that could have meant absolutely nothing, but Trevor found he wanted it to mean something. He slightly shrugged his shoulders to shake off his suffocating loneliness and started to follow his traveling companion into the fog and steam.

He surprised himself by stopping and turning. “Miss, I’ve changed my mind. May I have the muffin too?” He offered a friendly smile when she handed it to him. The muffin reminded him of those he would steal from Cook when he was a small lad. “This is delicious. Did you bake it?” He wanted to hear her voice again and to talk to her about anything. This was indeed a morning of surprises. He had never liked idle chatter.

“Yes, I did. Thank you for the compliment, sir.”

Her speech was clear, but not loud, not gaudy, but educated. Was this beautiful woman truly a servant? Through the fog in his mind and spirit, his loneliness and confusion, he heard, “Come on now, Coffman, don’t worry about the likes of her. Mercer provides plenty of enticing entertainment .” Edgar had returned with an irritating laugh.

He wanted to apologize to her. Why? She’s a servant. Was she also entertainment? He nearly blushed at the thought. Good God. That will not do.

“Thank you again,” he nodded and reluctantly walked away.

Enough! for now.

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