Snippet Time!

This is a scene from my current mess-in-progess, The New Bride of Banner’s Edge.

            The Serpentine was a river in Hyde Park. Well, that is, it was called a river, when in reality it was simply an odd-shaped lake. But on a clear, blue-skied afternoon where the May weather was fully a warm enough spring and not the drizzly, smoggy remnants of winter, Hyde Park looked like the ultimate English garden: leafy trees, thick green grass, flowers in bloom, and ducks gliding around the lake.
            Alex and Mady walked a few steps ahead of him. It was crowded today in the park. Carriages drove by on the wide carriage roads, flutters of parasols and skirts within them. Riders on their horses clip-clopped by. People strolled. Nursemaids ushered their charges along.
            In such a crowd, they were one family among many, practically anonymous. Except, of course, whenever a pair of eyes would flick towards Mady for just a second too long. Or when that flick of the eyes took in Alex, striding with purpose beside her sister, and then sometimes, the look would come to him as well.
            Miles was used to it, but that didn’t mean he liked the judgment or the speculation behind the darting looks.

           “Papa, I think this is a good spot,” Mady said as they arrived on the Serpentine’s banks. They weren’t too near other people and there were plenty of ducks gliding around in front of them. Miles handed Mady the sack with the stale bread the Banstons’ cook gave him. She reached her hand in and threw a small chunk of bread into the water. The ducks flocked to it.
Alex reached for the sack and lobbed some bread toward the congregating birds, too.
            “They’re hungry, aren’t they?” she said with a laugh.
            Mady tossed another chunk. “They are.”
            The ducks circled each new chunk of wet bread, poking the morsels with their beaks and flapping their wings.
            “Did you read Laura’s letter?” Miles asked.
            Mady nodded. “We want to write back to her.”
            “Mady likes corresponding,” Alex said. She threw another piece into the water. “Laura wrote that Mr. Stockton and her grandparents from Hampshire had come for the funeral. Also,
she thinks she and Lady Windham need to move into the dower house with her other grandmother, the dowager.”
            “Her father’s cousin is the new baronet.”
            Alex turned to him, scowling. “And because of that, Laura has to move house?”
            The intricacies of the British gentry and aristocracy could give any sane person a pounding headache. The girls were still learning.            
            “When the next person gains the title, whatever it may be, they usually gain the house or the estate or money; whatever comes with the title. Like your uncle Crestwell. He’s Lord Halbridge now, so he owns Halbridge Manor and Halbridge House.”
            And Halbridge Hall Plantation. Miles was certain they were all thinking of it, for the girls had spent half their lives on that plantation. They’d lost their mother—and no matter what anyone said, Adele had been the only mother Alex had known—on that plantation.
            The three of them had formed a unit. The girls were healthy and happy. The specter of the plantation was still there for him, but if he pushed against all it represented, the ghosts of Halbridge Hall Plantation might fade, too. He had found his feet in England and his business and land holdings were changing, but the prospects looked good.
            Except that there was nobody beside him, no one to watch the girls aim and fire their chunks of bread, to hear them giggle. No one to help him as they grew into young women. No one could ever replace Adele. But even so, it would take a special woman to take on his odd little family. Such a woman likely did not exist.
            Miles leaned down and gestured to the girls to pass the bag towards him. He tore a piece of crust off the bread and threw it into the Serpentine.
            Mady giggled. 

4 thoughts on “Snippet Time!

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