The last thing they needed was shrapnel zinging about. The charges he prepared were mere blanks—black powder wrapped in paper, for a bit of noise and a spray of dirt. But time was wasting, and Bram was impatient to be moving on, in more ways than one. Eight months ago, a lead ball had ripped through his right knee and torn his life apart. Some days during his convalescence, Bram had felt certain he would explode. And now he was so close—just a mile or so—from Summerfield and Sir Lewis Finch. Just a mile from finally regaining his command.
I could see a fair distance. Somesuch Bay, or Whatsit Harbor. God, I hate the country.
Give me a dank, seedy, vice-ridden pustule of a village any day. Wholesome living makes my skin crawl. Of course, the green itself is lovely. Highwood away, lest she spy the pair of stockinged legs dangling from one of the trees. Families come from ten parishes, some from as far away as Eastbourne. We ladies dress in medieval attire, and my father puts on a display for the local children. He collects ancient suits of armor, you see. Among other things.
Minerva peered hard at the bluffs. Are they sandstone or chalk?
Wide window boxes spilled over with blossoms, and a gilt-lettered sign swung noiselessly in the breeze. Or as if she were begging the ground to swallow her whole. Susanna put an arm about the young woman, shoring her up. The post comes through two times a week. Can I interest you all in a tour of the shops? There is only one. Highwood surveyed the street.
Diana must have a doctor nearby at all times, to bleed her when she has her attacks. Susanna winced. Such a useless, horrific practice, bleeding. Out of habit, she adjusted her long, elbow-length gloves. Their seams chafed against the well-healed scars beneath. As if she would marry some smooth-talking third son.
In fact, there are very few men in Spindle Cove at all. Aside from my father, only tradesmen and servants. Highwood sighed, looking about the village once again. My cousin, Lady Agatha, told me of a new spa in Kent. Mineral baths, purging treatments. Her ladyship swears by their mercury cure. If Diana Highwood landed in a spa like that, it might truly be the end of her.
The Elemental Dialectic of Light and Darkness
One cannot underestimate the healthful benefits of simple sea air and sunshine. I want to take part in the midsummer fair. Highwood might be a misguided, overwrought sort of woman, but she obviously loved her daughters and had their best interests at heart. She only needed a bit of reassurance that she was doing the right thing. Well, Susanna could give her that reassurance truthfully. All three of the Highwood sisters needed this place. Diana needed a reprieve from quack medical treatments. Minerva needed a chance to pursue her own interests without censure. Young Charlotte just needed a place to be a girl, to stretch her growing legs and imagination.
She had no way to go back in time and undo the misfortunes of her own youth.
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But she could help to spare other young ladies the same friendless misery, and that was the next best thing. I promise you, here they will be healthy, happy, and perfectly safe. Highwood clutched her bonnet with a gloved hand. Was that an explosion? She knew very well there was no ship.
In his day, Sir Lewis Finch had been a celebrated innovator of firearms and artillery.
His contributions to the British Army had earned him acclaim, influence, and a sizable fortune. The rumble grew more forceful with each second.
The Passions of the Soul in the Onto-Poiesis of Life
The paving stones vibrated beneath her heeled slippers. Highwood squeezed her eyes shut and emitted a low, mournful whimper. If she could only get them indoors. We hear it all the time here.
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A fluke of the weather. A flock of deranged, woolly beasts stormed through the ancient stone arch and poured into the village, funneling down the lane and bearing down on them. The chorus of agitated bleats grated against her eardrums. If her father had hurt himself, she was going to kill him. Miss Highwood, is your breathing quite all right? Without waiting for an answer, Susanna lifted her hem and made a mad dash down the lane, weaving around the few lingering sheep as she made her way straight out of the village.
This was, after all, a very small village. Rather than take the longer, winding lane around the hill, she climbed it. As she neared the top, the breeze delivered to her a few lingering wisps of smoke and scattered tufts of wool. Down at the bottom of the lane, two carts were stalled in the road. When she squinted, she could make out figures milling around the stopped conveyances.