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The Bugle App

Turner's Rage: Chapter Five

The Bugle App

James Seymour

07 April 2024, 7:34 AM

Turner's Rage: Chapter Five

Keep track of the characters here <Turner's Rage: List of Characters>



The Black Swan Pub, Ewell …


The Coach from Guilford arrived in Ewell late in the afternoon. Having been cramped up in the coach for several hours, Jonathan Turner was tired and hungry, anxious for a good meal and a long talk with his brother Richard. Since his meeting with Hamish McPherson early this morning, there were some urgent issues for their discussion.


Hamish had grand plans for the south of England and would establish a pub near the Epsom Downs racecourse. A calendar of regular race meetings, including some of the national race days, indicated growing crowds and patronage. When Jonathan mentioned his brother in Ewell, who ran a pub, Hamish’s curiosity was aroused. Hamish suggested that Richard might be interested in managing the new pub. 


Jonathan turned this proposal over and over all day, and by the time he arrived, he was keen for dinner and their discussion. 


Richard’s pub, The Black Swan, was ahead down the street—a hired man followed with Jonathan’s bags. The establishment was three floors high with a grand entrance that appeared slightly run down. Richard must improve the external appearance of the pub before Hamish visits. Jonathan would include this on the agenda for tonight. 


In the lobby, Jonathan recognised Oliver, Richard’s eldest son. 


“Uncle Jonathan! Welcome. Father said you were coming today. We have a fine room ready for you.”


“Oliver. Good to see you again. The coach was cramped, and I am thankful for a good stretch. Some dinner and a soft bed will be my desire tonight.”


“You travel on to London tomorrow?”


“Yes, I do!”


“We will make sure you have a good night’s rest.” 


Later that evening, the two brothers sat in Richard’s small but well-decorated private dining room, having a hot meal and wine as they caught up on family and business matters. Sarah, Richard’s wife, joined them for the main course but now left them to their business discussions. Jonathan did not hide his excitement about his new business acquaintance, Hamish McPherson.


“You see, Richard, he is planning three or four pubs in strategic locations south of London, and Epsom has the attraction of some well-known races.”


Richard said, “Pity he was not more flexible and would consider Ewell!”


“Your arrangement with the Lord of the Manor is distressing you. Why not consider cancelling that arrangement and taking on the management role at Epsom? Start afresh with some significant backing. Both Hamish and I would invest in the new pub. We need someone like you who understands the business.” Jonathan was hoping for Richard’s commitment. 


“Yes, I could, but an owner would still constrain me. I aim to control my own business! I envy you, Jonathan, in that you control your interests. Having never achieved this, it is time I did. I have been giving it much thought over the past two years, and if I don’t move soon, I may be too old for such a move.”


Jonathan was encouraged by what he heard. 


“However, it is more than just changing pubs. My need is more capital. The business here will not generate this. A friend recently informed me that the government is offering land, free title, for those who will settle in South Africa. A grant of land free of charge may be the opportunity to open the future for me. I could go out there for five years, set it up, then sell and return with some capital in my pocket. Who knows what other opportunities might arise? There is gold in South Africa, and many have gone there prospecting.”


Jonathan sat back and rubbed his hand across his chin. This proposed change in direction by Richard took him by surprise. Moving countries was a more significant challenge than what he was suggesting. But that was Richard – he was a risk-taker.


His brother continued. “If I can keep the pub going here and settle in South Africa, this will work. Oliver is now twenty-six and quite capable of managing it. His brother, Harry, is two years younger and well acquainted with the business. I would free up Oliver for what you are suggesting in Epsom. It is unlikely that I will leave until next year, so I could keep an eye on Oliver and assist with the new pub. I would also train Harry for Ewell before I go. McPherson could join us and show us any new ideas he desires implemented. The training should all be complete by the time we leave for South Africa.”


“Surely!” Jonathan interrupted, “You would take Oliver and Harry with you? You would need their help.”


“In the first few years, we will be grazing cattle and sheep, and plenty of locals are available for farm work. I will hire supervisors who know the local customs and hiring of staff. My boys will be better off here, developing the business. England is their home, and they have no desire to leave. It is funny, but they have been growing apart from me for some time. I think they would prefer me out of the business so they can make their mark. Young men need their turn, just as I did. You will recall how I stepped out in faith many years ago and set this business up. That is me. I like a challenge.¹



¹ British Settlers were encouraged to take land grants near Grahamstown (Makhanda) west of Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha) in the early part of the nineteenth century. Many failed and the land was either transferred or sold on. Wikipedia.



I will take Sarah and Katherine. Firstly, we will set up the farm and then build a farmhouse. During the first six months, I will become acquainted with the locals. I hear there is a growing community of English farmers.” 


Jonathan was surprised by this move and considered the implications of what Richard was suggesting—making Oliver the manager might well work. Hamish would like this as Oliver would be young and searching for new ideas – having his father as a backup would also mean a mentor on-site for some time. Jonathan would ensure Richard remained in England for at least a year. Hopefully, it would be 1828 before Richard went overseas and not 1827.


The brothers talked about the new Epson pub until Jonathan changed the subject. 


“Discuss this venture with your boys tonight, Richard, as I must go tomorrow morning and give Hamish an answer. I will return from London on Thursday and advise you of the outcome. However, there is another matter where I seek your advice. A matter of great confidentiality!”


Jonathan described the incident with Eleanora and how she banished him to the guest room. He explained how he addressed the situation but could not find a satisfactory solution. Richard drank a glass of red wine as he listened with interest.


“Jonathan, you have landed yourself in a pickle with your wife!”

 

Jonathan, leaning forward in his chair, agreed. “Yes, well, it was my fault! As you know, I have a problem with rage. When she refused me, I lost control! It should never have happened, but I succumbed to my desires. The restraint needed last week has been terrible, and I struggle with my need for comfort.”


Richard had a sparkle in his eye. “Jonathan. You are not the first man with this problem. Many a man in our society takes a mistress not only for satisfaction but also for the company.”


“I have pondered this thought, and it does not sit well with me. Yet I am in great want of satisfaction. My life has changed overnight, and it is because I cannot control my rage. The thought of a mistress is tempting, but I have resisted. The problem is that I find it difficult reconciling the taking of a mistress, firstly due to my beliefs and secondly, it would be a breach of my trust relationship with my wife.”


Richard smiled, “Father taught you well about the church. Pity he missed me on that count! I struggle with belief in God. I never accepted the faith you have – I have tried but have not found any divine inspiration or answers. For me, life is simple - there is no struggle. I do not envy your struggle with Christian principles. However, with your wife, if you have beaten her, then I am surprised she trusts you at all, Jonathan!” 


“I have apologised and vowed that it will never happen again. Eleanora has accepted this, and I am fortunate, but it does not solve my problem.” 


“Why, if I tried that with Sarah, she would have beaten me and thrown me out of the pub. You are fortunate that Eleanora is so understanding.” Richard took another sip of red wine and sank deep into thought.


“I am. I am!”


“And returning to William, you say the boy saw you beating her?”


“Yes, I saw him peeking around the corner of the bedroom door.”


“I told you about having children long ago, Jonathan. You should have listened. Did you give him a beating, too?”


“I should have, but I had other reasons for avoiding this. William is six and a half, and a slip of the tongue could be dangerous for my reputation. He has a will of his own, and I am afraid he might inadvertently expose me, leading to humiliation in the community. For now, I have convinced him that it was a bad dream.”


“Are you and he close, Jonathan? Can he be reasoned with?”


“Not really - he dotes on his mother and has strong desires. I think it fair to say he and I irritate each other.”


Richard pondered this and then said in jest, “This really could become a problem then! Perhaps South Africa is a solution. He may come in handy, given Oliver and Harry are not coming.”


While Richard was not seriously suggesting this, Jonathan looked interested in the idea and mused, “This might become necessary!” 


Jonathan took a last sip of wine, “Let me know tomorrow morning of your discussion with your sons. I shall join you at breakfast.”


Richard stood and said, “I will think about your satisfaction problem and consider alternatives.”


Jonathan shook hands with Richard and then proceeded to his room. The hallways of the pub were attractive and well-kept – far better than the exterior. It was a well-furnished and comfortable hotel with soft carpets that made little noise as you walked down the hallways. 


Jonathan Turner was thinking of snuffing the candle flame when a soft knock came at his door. Not expecting anyone, he was surprised by the interruption. Being tired and needing sleep, he was in two minds but decided to answer the knock. Moving from his bed, he opened the door. In front of him, there stood a well-dressed, attractive young woman.


She asked in a low, calm voice, “Jonathan Turner?”


“Yes.”


She walked past him saucily and sat on the end of his bed. 


Jonathan closed the door, suspicious of who this woman was. He may have been tired, but his brain was now running fast. He suddenly shuddered, realising this was his brother’s solution for his lust - arranging a woman for him! In the doorway, the light was low and restricted his vision. Now, she sat on his bed; he admired her detail. She was young, around twenty-five, with a beautiful figure, if not a little plump in some areas. The heightened colour of her cheeks was perfect, her hair was as long and blonde as his wife’s, and her perfume was light but intoxicating. 


She was there for the taking – handed to him on a platter - a gift from the establishment. No questions asked.


Jonathan felt himself becoming aroused and walked back and got into the bed. He sat there, considering her. 


“My name is Francene. I am yours for the night, Jonathan.” She stood up, slowly unfastened her dress, revealing her lingerie, moved up the bed, and sat before him. “Well?”


He remained silent. For Jonathan Turner, this was a defining moment. His marriage was a faithful one for twenty-four years. He now found himself with a delicious woman sitting nearly on his lap, offering him everything he wanted for the night – no questions asked. 


What kept ringing in his brain was his promise, ‘Eleanora, you are the only woman I have ever loved and will always be the only woman I love.’ Was he faithful to this? Of course, he meant this, but love and lust were two different things. Surely, he was assisting his wife by using another woman for his desire, saving her from this action. But then he recalled Reverend Taggart’s sermon on sin. ‘Sin not only affects ourselves but all those around us. We can pretend it is confined and justify in that way, but it also hurts the ones we love.’ Jonathan thought, ‘Damn, Taggart and his preaching!’ 


After loosening her corset, she put her hands on his shoulders and slowly leaned forward, exposing her soft, firm breasts. He wanted this so badly. He put his hands on her waist so she could not move further forward. She felt soft and wonderful. He breathed in her perfume, like rose petals all around him. Surely, if no one knew, no one would be hurt! He wanted her lingerie off so he could join with her. Her touch aroused him so much that sweat beads formed on his forehead. She smiled and gently licked his lips with her tongue. He felt himself submerging under this harlot’s spell. He pulled the covers away to roll this dream into his bed. She smiled again and kissed his chest, rubbing her hair across his face. He pulled her closer so her nipples were on his chest. It felt so good.


Eleanora’s soft voice came from inside his mind, ‘I must learn to trust you. Can you assure me it will never happen again? Can I trust you?’ The voice was quiet but determined.


Jonathan Turner was well educated, attending a Christian church with good preaching each Sunday. There was no escaping his understanding of the responsibilities of marriage. He was a man whose word was his bond. He had a conscience. Horrors such as little Olivia being suffocated in his chimney deeply angered him. He loved his wife.


Then, in a flashback, he saw the little boy peeping into his bedroom. His face showed confusion, and then he scampered away. His mind was ashamed when he heard Anne calling, ‘Wake up, Father, Wake Up!’ He looked up and only saw a ceiling. There was no one there except this half-dressed woman lying on his chest and kissing him madly. He took a deep breath.


“Stand up, put your dress on and leave, please.” He gently pushed her into a sitting position.


“Come on, big boy; it is yours for the taking. All free, no strings attached.” Francene was about to move forward and kiss him when he pushed her aside and looked her in the eye. “Don’t make me get out of bed, or you will be sorry!” 


Francene stood up and looked at him for a minute. “Your wife is a lucky woman, Jonathan Turner!”


Jonathan replied, “No, I am lucky to have her trust and love!”


Francene smiled, dressed, and quietly closed the door behind her. 



The Turner Household, Guildford …


Eleanora was retiring for the night and was about to snuff the candle when Anne knocked and entered her room. Giving her mother a gentle hug, she seated herself on the bed. 


“Mother, finding a time to talk is not easy. There has been so much happening that the chance has not appeared until now. Father’s being away provides some quiet time for us both. The boys and girls are in bed, and the house is quiet, and I desperately need your advice on some things. I know you are tired, but perhaps we could spend a few minutes, Mother?”


Eleanora smiled at her daughter. These must be pressing issues if Anne was so insistent. How much Anne reminded her of Beth, now nineteen and a governess at Woking. Bethany bloomed early, with long brown hair, the colour of her father’s. Jonathan found her the work with Reverend Upton, and the reports back from the good Reverend were very pleasing. Indeed, it would not be long before some eligible young bachelor asked for her hand. She wondered how Jonathan would cope with that. He would probably ask the young man about his wealth and connections! Ah, Beth – how much she missed her. But Anne, with her long locks of golden blonde hair, was blooming in more ways than beauty. While Eleanora suffered ill health, Anne took over responsibilities for the house and proved most competent. She confidently managed the inquiries of women twice her age at church and helped cement the friendship between Marion and Thomas. Who knew where that might lead? She was becoming an accomplished woman at seventeen without attending a finishing school – a daughter any family would appreciate. 


“Anne, let us talk, darling. Come sit beside me.” They sat on the large bed that Eleanora shared with Jonathan for so many happy years.


Anne moved along the bed but then looked down as if she was gaining courage before speaking. She hesitated. 


“What is it, child? You know this is a mother and daughter talk, and it will go no further.”


Anne‘s eyes became watery, and a tear rolled down her left cheek. “Mother, I think Jeb at the bakery is interested in me, and I’m unsure if I should respond. I like him but not romantically; he is a friend, and it must stay that way. If I became familiar with him, father would be annoyed. I do not want Jeb hurt. You know, father, he always says he will find someone worthwhile to marry me. But I am not ready to marry. I am happy at home, but home has been sad and painful these last few days. I fear the future. I was so afraid when you were injured – we must not lose you, Mother! I am so scared of what’s happening around me.”


She burst into tears, clinging to her mother. Eleanora held her tight as she violently sobbed against her chest. Her mother whispered in her ear, “There, there, Anne, you are safe here. There, there.”


Slowly, Anne regained her calm, drew back, and wiped her dripping nose and red eyes on a handkerchief given by her mother. 


“Anne, there has been so much you have dealt with over the last week. You have done it well and earned great respect, especially from your father. We deeply love you and understand you need some rest from those responsibilities. I am growing stronger by the day and will soon order Mrs Jennings around as before.”


They laughed as Anne said, “She needs it – she has become a little bossy lately!”.


“She is working hard, too. All these issues are new ground for her as well.” 


“Mother, what about Jeb? He is a fine man, and I am sure he is looking for a wife. But I am not ready for marriage – I am not even interested in considering marriage at present. I would never hurt his feelings, but I do not love him. There is so much I still wish to achieve. Visiting London, perhaps one day Paris, and see the sights. There is a world out there that I have never seen. Must I be married before this happens?” 


“No, not at all. But you will need a good chaperone. Perhaps your father and I can organise something like that for you next year. Perhaps Beth could go as well – you would enjoy that?”


“Yes, Mother - Beth and I with a nice chaperone. It would be such fun. Why could you not come with us, Mother?”


“Because I am with child, Anne!”


In amazement, Anne said, “But we have not been made aware! Mother, in your condition, is it wise? What has Doctor Stephens said?”


“He says the baby is fine, but the doctor has warned your father that he must leave me alone for several months. It will all be fine. Anne and I will discuss a trip next year for you and Bethany with him. Beth will be ready for a break and welcome the suggestion. That is if she is not married by then.”


“Why, Mother, have you heard something we do not know?”


“No. No. But Bethany is such a beautiful girl, just like you! There are bound to be eligible men lining up for her hand.”


“Not if they know our father!”


“Now Anne, your father is a good man, and he means well for all of us. Certainly, he makes mistakes at times, but don’t we all? When some young man calls upon him, we will draw our conclusions. It may not be a suitable match, as many issues must be considered.”


“What do you mean by that, Mother?”


“We, women, live in a predicament where we mostly do not own property. Our husbands usually take possession of any property coming with us in marriage. We do not have occupations; the vote is withheld from us, and we have little education. The men control everything. There are some women of wealth, and that is because their fathers were rich outside the aristocracy, and they legally willed it fairly for their children. But in most cases, the eldest son receives the lot.


In families such as ours, there is some opportunity for the daughters. Where a business is grown, generating wealth, there will be an inheritance for the daughters. You have learned much of the baking trade without indentures! You have also attended the church school, but unfortunately, we could not find you a suitable finishing school. But Anne, you are well educated, and you shall have more as we send you on a trip with a chaperone.  


We, women, must depend on our husbands’ love and generosity. So, in marriage, your spouse must have a suitable position and means. We do not want you in servitude, Anne. We want a better life for you - better than ours!” 


Anne nodded in agreement but then asked the question that had bothered her since last week.


“Mother, after the beating you received from father, are you not afraid about the future?” 


“Why, Anne, you should not judge that I received a beating. You must understand that perhaps the wrong was your father’s and mine. Perhaps I should have been more accommodating.”


Anne’s eyes widened, and she put her hand across her mouth, “Mother, No! It must have been so humiliating for you.” 


“Anne, Anne, now calm down. You must understand that when your father and I were married, it was not a marriage made in heaven. My parents selected him as they sought opportunities for me, but I needed convincing. I am sure Jonathan thinks it was all his charm, but there was far more involved than charm. My parents loved me very much and desired that the man who won my hand would provide a comfortable living for me. They succeeded more than they could have ever imagined. My parents never knew the luxuries that we afford now.”


“If this is so, Mother – tell me – do you love father? And does he love you?”


Eleanora looked at the painting on the bedroom wall of herself and Jonathan posing as newlyweds. She sighed. 


“Anne, the issue is, what is love? At first, I could not stand your father as he was insistent on union every night, and he did not have the manners of our family. He even resisted attending church, not understanding its importance for spiritual beliefs and business acquaintances. I often cried on my mother’s shoulder, but she also reminded me of a woman’s insecurity without a husband. She encouraged me to always look for the good things in him, and there were many. I’m sure he found me tiresome in the early years of our marriage as I bent him into shape.”


Anne smiled and then threw herself backwards on the bed, giggling, “Bent him into shape – how I wish I had seen that.”  


Eleanora smiled and giggled, too. “There were many funny little things that happened!”


She lay down beside Anne and took Anne’s hand in hers. “You would be surprised, but it is from those little things that love springs.”  


They gazed into each other’s eyes – mother and daughter.


‘You mean you love him?”


“Yes, marriage has bound us together, and we have made a life that I would never swap with anyone. Certainly, the romance was lacking at the start, but the man has devoted his life to our family. He is tough and can be wicked, but he can also be outstanding. I have not been the model wife, but we have been fortunate in childbirth, seeing some of our children become adults. We have shared these joys. We have laughed together, and we have cried together. Before everyone was up on Sunday morning, he made me a cup of tea and buttered rolls and brought them upstairs for the first time in our marriage. So, out of bad can come good. If you asked me if I love him, I would say I do. If you ask me if he loves me, I would say yes, I do. But perhaps you should ask him that, Anne. But not now!” She smiled, and Anne giggled. 


“Mother, what do I do about Jeb?” They sat up.


“From what you tell me, you are not interested in a relationship yet. Anne, you show a lot of wisdom for someone your age. Friendship is ample; if he wants more, you must make him understand it is friendship only, and he must keep his distance. Jeb is no fool and will heed your advice.”


“Thank you, Mother. I have been so confused. I so much love talking with you. Do you think I will ever find happiness like you?”


“Let us see what develops in the next few years, shall we?”

          

“Mother. I nearly forgot. I have invited Marion and Mrs McPherson for afternoon tea tomorrow. Mr McPherson returns to London tomorrow for business, so some company for them will be welcome while he is away. If you are unsure of your health, I will look after them myself, but it would be good if you could attend.” 


“Now Anne, perhaps next time you should consult me before handing out invitations, but in this case, I will attend! Now it’s time for bed.”


In the morning, Anne ensured that Mrs Jennings understood the arrangements for the afternoon tea. Anne frowned when a knock came at the front door as she was not expecting anyone. 


Mrs Jennings returned and announced Miss Marion Steele was waiting for Anne in the drawing room. 


Madeline, Simeon, and William were packing their bags before leaving for school. Clementine was checking that everyone had their lunch. 


“Your sandwiches, William, are they in your bag?” 


“Yes”.


“Are you sure, as there are some sandwiches here on the table? Let me see.”

 

Clementine opened his bag.


“Brother, you must concentrate - there are no sandwiches in your bag – now put these in and catch up with Sim. Madeline, I will walk with you as Mrs. Jennings needs some items from the grocery store. Now, where is the money jar?”


Anne left the organising and found Marion waiting in the drawing room. 


“Anne, please excuse me for visiting so early, but I was so bored as Mrs McPherson calls on the mayor’s wife this morning. Mr McPherson is at Dapdune Wharf, where he takes the Weybridge barge. For some reason, he loves barges and will also inspect the canal network between here and London. 


Could I come with you for a few hours today and see what you do at work? I am curious as I have never been allowed into a workplace – because of the ‘Lady thing’ in London, and this is my opportunity. I do so admire you and the freedom your father gives you.”


Anne was amazed. Usually, it was the other way around; people disliked work. 


“It would be a pleasure, Marion, but you can’t come in those fine clothes. Come upstairs, and we will change you into some old clothes of mine. I will find you a smock. Are you sure about this?”


“Yes. You probably think me a romantic, but I am so bored and fascinated by what you must do there. Also, perhaps we might meet Thomas!”


“Ah!” Anne said, smiling slightly and thinking that Marion must be keen on Thomas! As she pulled out the best old clothes in her wardrobe, Anne wondered whether Marion was more interested in work or Thomas. 


“Now try these on – we must be quick, or I will be late. Father loves punctuality – even though he is away, I can feel him watching me.”


Eleanora, carrying Marcia, walked in as Marion’s head popped out of the top of the smock. “What are you girls doing?”


“Marion asked if she could join me at work for a few hours, and I thought it would be fun. Mr & Mrs McPherson are engaged this morning, so Marion is alone. But we must not let her ruin all her beautiful clothes at the bakery!”


“Yes, yes, I agree. Have fun, girls.”


“Thank you, Mrs Turner – my auntie is most excited about the afternoon tea.”




The Church School, Guildford …


Simeon, William, and Madeline crossed the busy street between horses, carts and other pedestrians and entered the Church school. William immediately dropped his bag and darted towards the game of cricket on the other side of the graveyard. Simeon picked up William’s bag and dropped it near the church’s back door at the bag stand.     


Madeline slowly walked into school and sighed. She was not interested in school and would prefer staying home even if she was doing housework. The sight of her friends, Ruby Bowers and Dawn Luckett, cheered her up as they went into a huddle, talking and giggling about minutiae. 


Just before Reverend Taggart called the children in, Ruby whispered in Madeline’s ear that Richard and Caleb were plotting a fight with Simeon and William for today. She heard it was because Caleb’s teeth were knocked out, but she was unsure of the whole story. A frown came over Madeline’s face, and she dashed and warned Simeon. 


Simeon groaned, wondering whether this would ever end. There was nothing for it. He must ask for Reverend Taggart’s protection and quickly. 


The good Reverend was a man of action and sent William and Simeon on an errand while he thought out a strategy on hearing about the plot. He ushered them into his office when they returned an hour later with the goods requested. 


“Now, boys, you know how we have been learning about gravity? A day at home will allow you enough time to prepare an example. Tomorrow morning, you may demonstrate what you have prepared. Perhaps you could discuss the project with Anne and Thomas at the bakery this morning. Simeon, you can take care of William – I’m sure your parents will be happy with your supervision. When you get home, please explain why you are home early and the task I have given you.” He gave Simeon a wink. 


William was unsure what gravity was, but before he could ask Reverend Taggart, Simeon cut across him, “Certainly, Sir. We will come up with something.” Grabbing William’s collar, he dragged him off towards home. 


The Reverend Taggart thought, ‘Good, those two are out of danger. Now for some straight talking with Richard and Caleb.’


William and Simeon grabbed their bags and set off for home. 


It was a beautiful day with a cloudless blue sky and a slight breeze from the west. William breathed in the summer air and felt the exhilaration of a perfect day for an outing. He wanted an adventure.


“Simeon! Why should we go home? We could go on a hike in the forest. We could be knights in shining armour. I’ve always wanted to see what was over that hill across the river there.” William pointed at the highest part of the forest across the river Wey. 


The King’s hunting forest extended from Windsor to Guildford. It was a vast forest full of deer and other game that entertained royalty and their guests regularly. 


Simeon was not so keen. “I’m not sure we are allowed into that forest. At least not by ourselves.”


“Then we shall never see it! Father will never take us. It would only be half an hour up to the top of the hill.”


Simeon thought, ‘Maybe I could find a hollow log and a round stone that would roll down it. That would be a good example for the Reverend tomorrow.’


“Ok, then. I have an idea for the example we might find up there.” Simeon’s interest was rising as he wondered what was over that hill. The two boys set off down High Street on their adventure. Once across the bridge, they walked along Portsmouth Road up to the first corner. They ducked through the fence into the trees and climbed over the pine-covered earth and rocks.


The hill proved higher than expected, and it was a good hour before they reached the top, by which time it was nearly midday.


“I can’t see Guildford at all; the forest is too thick,” William said as he peered around the trees. 

Simeon was scouting the terrain for a better vantage point. 


“Will, over there. I can see a rocky outcrop one hundred yards along the ridge.”  


The two boys set out at a run for the vantage point. William got there first and broke into song. “Sim, look at this. I can see the whole town. Wahooooo……”


Simeon arrived and set his pack down. “Wow. What a view!”


Feeling hunger pangs, the boys decided on lunch. 


“It’s a good thing Clementine remembered your sandwiches, Will. They taste nice.” 


William turned and found Sim eating his lunch. “Hey, those are mine!”


“You can have mine. Look in my bag.”


William searched Simeon’s bag and found it empty of food except for about ten biscuits. 


Simeon grinned and said, “I ate my sandwiches at morning tea!” 


William was about to scream at Simeon when he stopped, dead still and slowly sat down. His face went white. Simeon, enjoying a thick sandwich, expected a reaction from his little brother but noticed William was white and silent. “What’s wrong?”


William whispered, “Don’t…. Do not move, Sim. Just peek a look over your shoulder.”


Simeon slowly turned his head. Not more than five steps behind him was a huge stag, nearly fifteen hands high, before adding the antlers. William was sitting facing the deer head-on. He saw it twitching its nose, smelling the sandwich and slowly waving its antlers. 


William whispered, “Throw the sandwich over your head. I think it fancies it.”


Sim gently took hold of another sandwich and threw it quickly over his shoulder, landing at the deer’s feet. The stag started waving its antlers in rage. Then, three arrows flashed past the boys from the right, striking the deer’s side in a second. Thud, Thud, Thud. In fright, the deer raised its front hooves and crashed onto the ground, falling behind Simeon. Its antlers fell across his arm, breaking it. 


Simeon looked in horror as he felt the warmth of the deer’s breath expiring on his back. It did not move. William stood up and, from two feet away, watched as the deer’s eyes blinked madly and then just opened and became still. 

 

“Good shot, Horace!” came a shout from fifty yards down the hill.


A hunting party of ten horsemen came out from the forest further down the ridge. They shouted to each other in high spirits as they galloped up to where the boys were sitting. Simeon was crying out in pain as his arm hung limply by his side. Every movement increased his pain, and blood was streaming from a nasty gash. 


One horseman dismounted and ran up the rocks to the injured boy. 


“Good thing we turned up, or that stag would have cut you, boys, into pieces.” The horseman then noticed Simeon’s arm limp by his side with blood pouring from it. He could see the boy was in agony but keeping a straight face. “Let me have a look at that arm.” 


Simeon could not move. He noticed the horseman had a brilliant blue tunic and a quiver over his shoulder. An even larger man approached and stood on the rock, towering above the boys.

He said, “What are you boys doing here?” William, frightened to speak, sat there with his mouth open.


The large man thought the boys were poaching. He questioned, looking in William’s bag, “What have you got here? Ah, some biscuits – let me have a taste. I am a bit hungry.” He crunched onto one of the Turner bakery biscuits. “My, that’s good – where did you get these?” 


The first man looked up and yelled at the large man, “Horace, snap out of it, man! We have a serious injury here.” Horace, enjoying an exceptional biscuit made even better due to his hunger, turned quickly, “Yes, Sire.”


Taking a quick look at Simeon, he bellowed at the party below, “Neville, quickly bring some bandages and splints up here. On the move, man! Now! Sir Cuthbert – you too, please. We could use help from your gentle hands.”


Below, a horseman dismounted quickly dived his hands into his saddlebags, and pulled out some cloth and sticks. He raced up the rock face as if it were flat and put them beside the younger man tending Simeon. 


The man in the blue tunic asked, “What’s your name, boy?”


“Simeon, Sir.”


The larger man looked at Simeon and said, “You call him Sire, Simeon!”


William said, “Yes, Sir.”


In a rage, the man called Horace yelled at William, “Sire!”


He yelled so loudly that William, in fright, started falling off the rock ledge. Horace leaned over and, in a flash, grabbed William with one hand and placed him back down safely. He breathed a sigh of relief and said, “We nearly had another casualty!”


Quietly, he mouthed at William, “Sire!”


“Yes, Sire”, William trembled. 


Horace said, “Where did you get these delicious crunchy biscuits, lad? I have not tasted anything as good before.”


Feeling some friendship in the question, William said proudly, “From our kitchen, Sire!”


Horace and the man with the blue tunic looked at each other and laughed. Not understanding the humour, William caught the joviality and laughed as well. The smaller man said, “By the look of you two, you are brothers. And what might your name be, brother of Simeon?”


“William Turner, Sire.” William noticed that the smaller man had a magnificent blue uniform and could not have been more than a few years older than Anne. He also saw that all the men obeyed his commands. 


“Horace, give me one of those biscuits if any are left! I’m hungry!” 


“Why, Sire, I don’t think any are left!” Horace grinned.


William was surprised at this and looked in his bag. 


“Yes, there is, Sire! Please have one.”


The small man thumbed his nose at Horace and bit into the biscuit. “My goodness, you’re right, Horace. These are good! We must visit this kitchen.”

  

While this banter was going on, the other men, Neville and Sir Cuthbert, were gently splinting and binding up Simeon’s arm. 


Neville spoke softly, “Careful, Robert, this little chap is in a bad way. We must return him home quickly and have a doctor called.” 


“I’m aware of that! Now, William, you can ride with me, and Horace, you will carefully carry Simeon.” 


Neville placed a soft jacket under Simeon’s head. In a concerned voice, he quietly instructed Simeon, “Hold still as we bind these splints on. The more relaxed you are, the less it will hurt!”


Simeon gritted his teeth, but the pain was too great. He started screaming but then saw white and passed out. The next thing he knew was waking and staring into the kind eyes of Doctor Jeremy Stephens.


The “Sire” sent a man in advance for Doctor Stephens, requesting his services at the Turner’s house. The hunting party slowly headed down the hill towards the township. Directed by William, they made their way up North Street behind the houses and shops, the party doing their best not to attract attention. The ‘Sire’, Horace carrying Simeon and Neville, followed William’s directions across High Street, through an alley and around a corner at the rear of the Turner house, and entered along the back veranda and into the kitchen. The other party members stabled the horses at the Fox & Hound and decided on a hearty lunch as they waited.


Anne and Mrs Jennings, who were preparing the afternoon tea, were surprised as the three men in brilliant tunics led by William entered the kitchen while the largest man, Horace, carried an unconscious Simeon. 


They stood there for a second or two in silence, looking at each other. 


The appearance of the men dumfounded Mrs Jennings. Anne was astonished that three knights could be standing in the kitchen facing them. Then she saw Simeon held gently in the arms of the larger man. 


William broke the ice, “Anne, Mrs Jennings, Is Doctor Jeremy here yet?” 


Anne replied, “Why no! What has happened to Simeon? My Goodness!”


The man with the blue tunic said, “Our apologies, maids, for entering your kitchen, but the situation’s urgency demanded this. Master Simeon and Master William have been hunting with us, and Master Simeon was in an altercation with a rather large stag. The deer’s antlers have damaged his arm, and he is in much pain and passed out. He requires his bed. If you would lead us, please? “


Mrs Jennings continued standing there with her mouth open. Anne immediately reacted.


“Of course – please follow me.”


She quickly led the way up the flights of stairs, Horace bending down carefully, avoiding the low doorways. 


The young man in the blue tunic quietly whispered, “William! Is Anne Mrs Jennings’s daughter or a servant girl?” 


“No, Sire, she is my sister!”


“Ah!” 


Horace laid Simeon gently on the bed and withdrew backwards. As Neville knelt beside Simeon, checking his wound, the man in the blue tunic asked, “I am sorry, young maid. What is your name?”


“Anne, Sir.”


Horace called, “Call him Sire, young Anne!”


Turning and looking up with a smile, Neville asked Anne for a bathing cloth, water, and another blanket until the doctor arrived. Anne called Mrs Jennings and requested the required items.


The man in the blue tunic stood back as Neville continued monitoring the boy. 


“Is he a doctor, Sire?” Anne asked.


“Yes, he is my physician. He is an excellent surgeon and will explain the exact symptoms and treatment required when the doctor comes.”


He turned and looked at Anne. He found her most attractive. There was something special about this girl – she was full of life, and her beauty glowed from her. But there was something more that he struggled to understand. It was as if he knew her from somewhere else.


Anne looked at him. She had never seen someone in such a magnificent uniform. The blue tunic must have been new as it was without blemish. 


The man in the blue tunic was amazed by the beauty of this girl called Anne. He could not take his eyes off her. 


Horace, noticing the focus of attention changing, mentioned the need for biscuits. 


The ‘Sire’ nodded his head out of a trance and said, “Yes. William was so good as to give us a biscuit each. We have never tasted a finer biscuit and learned they came from your kitchen. Might we sample some more, Anne? Neville will remain with Simeon.”


“Certainly, Sire. However, I would rather remain with my brother until the doctor arrives.”


The young man quietly said, “Anne, I would trust Neville with my life. He will be at Simeon’s side till the doctor comes. Your devotion to your brother is admirable, but he rests comfortably and is in safe hands. Neville will call us if required.”


Anne nodded and reluctantly agreed and led the way. They passed the doctor rushing up the stairs. He stopped abruptly on a landing, allowing them past. 


“Thank you, Doctor Jeremy, for coming so quickly. Simeon is in his room with this gentleman’s doctor. They are waiting for you.”


Jeremy Stephens’s eyes opened wide when he saw who was standing beside Anne on the landing. 


The ‘Sire’ said, “We are going downstairs for some biscuits. Should we send some up?”


“No, thank you, Sire.” Jeremy Stephens hurried on.  


They entered the kitchen, where Mrs Jennings continued preparing the afternoon tea. Horace looked at the spread in pleasure but noted his friend’s stern look. 


Anne took a deep breath and, steadying herself, asked, “Sire, I am sorry, but we have not been introduced. May I ask your name?”


The man in the blue tunic turned wide-eyed, “My apologies, Anne. In all the rush with Simeon, I forgot the introductions. I am Robert South, and this gentleman is Sir Horace Coombes from Cornwall. Please call me Robert.”


Anne smiled, “I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Robert. How did you come across William and Simeon?”


“Ah?” Robert said. “Let me tell you the whole story while we have a biscuit at your kitchen table. Come join us, Horace.”


Horace came from the doorway and gently parked his massive frame on one of the kitchen chairs. With a charming voice, he asked, “Any chance of a cup of tea, Mrs Jennings?”


Mrs Jennings looked sternly at Horace and retorted, “I suppose you will want some of these cakes next!”


Horace’s face broke into a begging smile, hoping for sympathy.


Robert and Anne looked at each other, enjoying the banter, and began laughing.