A Winters Journey
This is something I wrote when a good friend sent me this picture (Karen Gordon). It was fun to do and a excerpt of what may one day be a novel…
The air was freezing cold. Mid-winter was not the usual time to travel, though the master ordered it. Shuddering in the icy cold wind the coachman muttered and mumbled under his breath as he made his way to the stables to harness the horses. The carriage was being warmed by maids carrying hot stones, placing them on the wooden floor so their mistress would be warm. They ran quickly, flakes of snow falling gently on their mop caps as they went too and fro between the kitchen and carriage.
The horses stamped their hooves, snorting in protest, not wanting to go out into this icy cold weather.
“Come now, don’t be troublesome,” the coachman mutters as he slung the reigns and harnesses over their back. “Hush now, you’ll be warm with the work you’ll do.”
Healed them out of the stable, motioning them backwards. They shook their manes, glaring at him one last time before obeying.
“Joe, hold their head while I finis getting them organised.
The young stable lad grinned, taking up the reins and stood proudly, holding their heads steady. The horse closest snorted again, making Joe laugh as it’s breath clouded over him. Joe stroked the horses neck, talking quietly. The coachman smiled, he’d always know the boy would be a treasure with animals, they always enjoyed his presence.
The coachman climbed up the steps, taking The reins off Joe, a nod to him, a check to see the carriage was ready, the luggage loaded. He jerked the reins and they clattered out of the courtyard around to the front of the house. His master was just escorting his wife down the front steps as he pulled to a stop. A footman, hurried forward, opening the carriage door letting he master uplift his wife, into the carriage. Climbing inside, the master Shir the door, a knock on the ceiling of the carriage and the coachman jerked the horses to move on down the driveway. The winter’s journey had begun.
The night was settling in, the sky an orange blaze as the sun started to disappear behind the horizon. The crisp Head snow crunched and crackled as the carriage moved over them quickly, out of through the gates and onto the main road.
Trees in their winter coats stood either side of the road, like a white avenue with all the snow covering them. Enormous oak trees, along with sycamore trees, stood majestically as the carriage moved beneath them. The tree branches touched and entwined with each other over the road. I was very much like a tunnel. A long straight road. The coachman had been told it was an old Roman road, whatever that meant.
Taking the whip he slashed it through the cold air, encouraging the horses on, his head down low over his face, he prayed for no highwaymen, he wished his master had managed to talk his wife out of this stupidity, sadly he hadn’t.
The snow started to fall heavier, making it hard we to see, though on they travelled, bouncing over the road, barely missing pot holes and managing not to slide into the embankments.
“Stupid idiots,” he muttered.
Inside the lovely warm coach, Albert Pendleton had his arms crossed over his chest, glaring at his wife. Wishing was anywhere but on the road.
“This is totally foolhardy Arabella,” he snapped.
“Husband, you must understand, I have to go when I am needed,” she replied with a light smile.
“Tis my needs you should be looking after.”
“Come Albert, you will enjoy the time away as much as I.”
“I dislike travelling in winter, and you know it, this nothing but troublesome.”
The carriage hit a rut, making Arabella squeal as she nearly bounced out of her seat.
“Gosh, that was rather violent.”
“It’ll get worse, especially in this weather.”
“Stop been so pessimistic,” she scolded.
“Show me the letter again,” he replied huffily.
Opening her purse, Arabella pulled out the letter from her best friend, handing it over to her husband. He took it with a scowl. Opening it, he started to peruse it as much as possible in a swaying carriage.
My dearest Arabella, I have urgent need of your assistance, my life is at risk as we speak, though I am hopeful you will arrive before any further strange occurrences happen. I pray to you, no I beg you to come to me. Yours desperately Hester.
“She doesn’t say much, I’m sure it is nothing worse than nerves, she was always a jumpy young lady, as meek as you could get.”
“She does not write like that in an emergency, her writing is dreadful, something has scared her Albert,” she said sternly.
“Well we’re On the way, I pray we get there in one piece.”
“I dint’ understand your concern Albert, tis winter, the roads will be less travelled.”
“There could still be highwaymen.”
“Albert, really,” she sighed. “We’ve had nothing around here for years.”
“They have plenty where we’re going,” he replied handing the letter back to her.
“Until then…” she smiled.
“Fine, I’ll try not to worry you with my concerns.”
The carriage slid wildly. Arabella fell to the side, hitting her head on wall, moaning she looker dip and over at Albert, finding him on the floor, still for but a moment. Pushing up with his hands, she screamed at his bloody nose, backing into the corner.
“Oh do be quiet,” he muttered, wiping the blood from his face.
He sat back on his seat, after assisting Arabella to sit up. Closing his eyes, he relaxed and fell asleep.
“Charming,” she sighed and closed her eyes.
The fallow fields lay dormant and crisp with snow, little footprints of rabbits and birds looking for food could be seen in the snow, if anyone had cared to stop and look. Many animals brought their heads up as the carriage sped past like a ghost in the night. They shuddered, quickly making their way to their burrows and nests. A lone fox stood watching, sniffing the ground, before it howled for it’s mate. Food was the order of the night.
A sudden movement by a tree, startled them, they jumped back when the shadow stood tall, their terror making them scream, running quickly over the fields as fast as they could. The shadow smiled slowly, stretching and yawning. An owl screeched descending down for a mouse it espied, talons out it grabbed it, flying back to the barn to feed it’s young. The shadow moved over the hedge onto the road, smiling widely now it began to walk after the carriage, know he couldn’t lose it, not this time.