The Reclusive Aristocrat – Part Fifty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Four 

As they thundered along the hilly countryside road, Alex urged Porter on while kneeing Titan fiercely. He had to call upon every ounce of battle experience just to remain aloof enough to plan ahead. Panic was lurking in the dark corners of his heart, as if a dire foreboding was waiting to spring forth. Rowena was in danger, he could quite literally feel it. In no way would he allow that she be harmed, it was unthinkable.

“Major!”

Porter’s deep voice boomed him to a standstill. “What?” He scowled at his batman who was glaring at him from his uncovered eye.

“I won’t let ye wearin’ these poor ‘orses to death, major, let alone let ye break yer neck. Slow down and talk te me. What’s yer plan?”

Alex patted Titan’s neck in apology to his faithful mount. “You are right, Porter, I am sorry. It is just that … blast it, I do not know what to do! I can feel there is something very wrong with my wife and … damnation, I have never felt this powerless in my life!”

“Well, let’s go on then. We’ll see what’s te be done once we get there. But, for the love of God, keep yer ‘ead about it. Ye never panicked before, so now ain’t the time to start it!”

They continued in a sedate canter, yet Alex grew more restless by the second. What if his wife was in mortal danger already? What if … but no! He would not allow the rest of that wretched thought to cloud his mind. Rowena could not be taken from him. He would die if she would, because she meant more to him than his own life.

 

Half-strangled and gasping for breath, Rowena felt herself pivoting away from Roderick. She groped for a hold, any hold, to prevent her from hurting herself. Her right shoulder hit the little side table near Roderick’s chair, and the momentum of the impact made her roll towards the door. Stars obscured her already blurred vision, and fighting for breath against the violent pain in her shoulder, she tried to sit up.

A howl like that of a wounded beast reached her. Her half-brother was lying flat on his stomach, and his entire back was on fire. He was trashing and trying to crawl away, screeching now in excruciating pain. Rowena got to her knees and began crawling towards him. She yanked her woollen shawl from her shoulders, ignoring her own pain by doing so. Only then did she become aware of the smoke that threatened to choke them both and of something much more horrid; the stench of burning flesh. Roderick’s flesh …

In a last desperate attempt to help him, Rowena threw her shawl over Roderick’s back. Head whirling and lungs burning with the lack of air, she grasp his hand and began tugging him in the direction of the door. She had not counted on her own injury. Before blackness engulfed her, Alex’ name was on her lips, but no sound came from her parched throat.

 

The scene that greeted the riders was one straight from the sheer depths of hell. They saw the smoke rising over the tall oaks boarding the driveway and their worst fears came true when they beheld the flames bursting from the downstairs windows. Maids and footmen – far too few – were starting a bucket line under the instructions of an ancient individual in butler’s attire. An elderly woman in black bombazine – the housekeeper, no doubt – stood wringing her hands in helpless panic.

Alex leapt from Titan and addressed the butler.  “Did Lady Ketteridge come here today?”

The man blinked. “Yes, sir, and she is still in there, and the master, too. We cannot enter the library where they both are. The heat is overpowering and the smoke choking.”

“I am going inside. Give me a wet towel to cover my head. What’s your name?”

“Philby, sir.”

“Very well, Philby. Keep up the bucket line and send a young groom or footman to follow me as soon as you can.”

“Major, I’m comin’ wi’ ye and no protests!”

“Yes, follow me, Porter.”

Little Women

 JAMES NORTON TO JOIN
MERYL STREEP, EMMA STONE, SAOIRSE RONAN IN ‘LITTLE WOMEN

The new big screen re imagination of LITTLE WOMENmight add, according to ‘Deadline’, our dearest James Norton to the cast which already includes Meryl Streep, Emma Stone, Timothee Chalamet, Saoirse Ronan, Eliza Scanlen and Florence Pugh! Helming the adaptation of Louisa May Alcott‘s popular novel is Greta Garwig. Set in the background of American Civil War, LITTLE WOMENrevolves around the March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, on their journey to womanhood, guided by their mother Marmee.
James Norton might join Little Women

Storm Boy

 ‘STORM BOY’ POSTER
FOR A DRAMA STARRING JAI COURTNEY AND GEOFFREY RUSH
A trailer hasn’t been released for this one yet, but we do have a gorgeous first poster for Australian drama STORM BOY which hits cinemas Down Under next January starring Geoffrey Rush and Jai Courtney!
STORM BOY, based on the beloved book by Colin Thiele, is a highly emotional tale of a young boy (Finn Little) growing up on the beautiful but uninhabited coastline of Southern Australia who unexpectedly rescues and then raises three orphaned pelicans. When he forms a close bond with them, he finds himself at odds with his fisherman father and his life takes a new and unexpected turn. Jai Courtney plays his protective father who removes himself and his son from society and chooses to live on the remote coastline of the Coorong. Geoffrey Rush plays old Storm Boy who recounts the story to his granddaughter.
Jai Courtney: The Exception:

  1ST ‘THE AERONAUTS’

SET PHOTOS WITH EDDIE REDMAYNE AND FELICITY JONES
Speaking of epic things, check out the first photos that have appeared around the net of Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones in Tom Harper‘s historical adventure THE AERONAUTS in which they play pilot Amelia Wren and scientist James Glaisher who find themselves in an epic fight for survival while attempting to make discoveries in a hot air balloon.
This is the second time they star together after The Theory of Everything

 ‘COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO’

NEW TV SERIES FROM POLDARK’S WRITER AND PRODUCERS
Cry not Poldark lovers, not because the series is returning again next year with season five, but because its producer Mammoth Screen is preparing

another epic saga for us! They are currently working with Poldark’s writer Debbie Horsfield on adapting Alexandre Dumas‘ 19th century novel THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
As ‘Deadline’ reports, the story, will be set between 1815 and 1839 in France and Italy. It follows the Bourbon Restoration through the reign of Louis Philippe of France ahead of the Hundred Days period, when Napoleon returned to power. It is an adventure story following a man who is wrongfully imprisoned, escapes from jail, acquires a fortune, and sets about exacting revenge on those responsible for his imprisonment.
Poldark’s scribe is working on the new series

Black 47

 

Ireland 1847

REVENGE STORY STARRING JIM BROADBENT AND HUGO WEAVING
It’s 1847 and Ireland is in the grip of the Great Famine that has ravaged the country for two long years. Feeney, a hardened Irish Ranger who has been fighting for the British Army abroad, abandons his post to return home and reunite with his estranged family. He’s seen more than his share of horrors but nothing prepares him for the famine’s hopeless destruction of his homeland. He discovers his mother starved to death and his brother hanged by the brutal hand of the English. With little else to live for, he sets on a destructive path to avenge his family, systematically working his way up the political and social hierarchy of 19th Century Ireland. Hannah, an aging British soldier and famed tracker of deserters, is sent to stop Feeney before he can further stoke the fires of revolution. But Hannah and Feeney are old army comrades with a mutual respect forged by their times fighting together. Personal bonds and shifting allegiances cause both men to question their motives, as they are tested to the limit by the hellish landscape of “the Great Hunger”.
Black 47 should hit cinemas in UK this September
The movie was directed and written by Lance Daly