It was nearing four in the afternoon when Kip attached the coach and horses. He and Squeaks had an amazing ride through the forest. He had to admit she was quite a good horseman herself, once he got her in the saddle. Their great love for horses was equally cherished, but how would she feel about being a countess? Kip felt in his heart that his love could reach through her, to the other side if she joined his noble family, but could she reach back to him?
He knew she would not expect or demand extra respect. It would be like her to blend in as one of his own residents rather than their mistress. Perhaps, that would be a good thing. She could ask that something be accomplished instead of issuing commands. She would be well loved. His father would live another twenty years before Kip, himself, would have to accept his due title. Being a coachman for another decade would give Squeaks what she wanted. Their dreams could be fulfilled on both sides of the peerage line. As he rode, Mary came into his mind again, she was there often during this period of his life. With her presence so entrenched within, his attitude was softening about one day returning home. Squeaks was changing his world, even more. He was beginning to think less of his own life and more of hers. He had to make her happy.
Kip handed her the reins when they left the forest and traveled the main roads.
“Squeaks, when we get to the outskirts of London, would you like me to ride rear footman?”
She started to giggle thinking about it. “I think we should wait until we are very near Stokes Castle.” Kip could again see the child that was still invading her subconscious. She was easily pleased like a little one at Christmas. There the innocence remained. Someday that would be gone. He would cherish it while it lasted.
“When can we see each other again, Kip?”
“That will be up to you, my love. Tonight, I have an affair to attend. I know you are only available in the evenings, and that tends to be when I am working. We will definitely begin to plan nights so I can refuse fares.”
“How do we tell people about us?”
“We don’t say anything. If someone asks if you and I are a pair, just say that you are seeing me. Word will spread fast.”
“Does that mean I can see no one else? Can I not attend an evening meal with someone who asks?” She was teasing him, but he did not recognize it as that.
“That is usually what that means. Have I totally misunderstood you?”
“No, I am glad to have a reason to turn another down. Friday morning, without you, was a bit sad, having to disappoint so many men.” Her dimpled cheeks popped up.
“So many, was it?” Her charade had worked for a moment. “You don’t know how often I thought about you that day. Did you really have men asking to escort you out?”
“Yes. It was rather thrilling. I’ve never had that adoration, and now it is everywhere. I was asked several times if I was single and once if I was married.” She grinned.
“As if my control with you isn’t hard enough, you are going to make this difficult to woo you, properly.”
“But you said I didn’t need wooing, didn’t you? I’m not sure how I would make it difficult.”
“I believe you just did. A man takes very great pride in his lady. His first aim is to possess her. No one else may have her, or touch her. He will defend her with his life.”
“And you feel that way?”
“Yes. How many ways can I say it? I thought you were riding along with me today. Did you just arrive, woman? What have you done with Miss Dorset? The only problem Dorset has is listening to me, or perhaps it is believing in me.”
“Am I your lady?”
“You said you weren’t a lady if I remember accurately. Do you want to be? I thought you loved me.”
“Then it is a ‘yes.’”
“I think I need an official scorekeeper. I do not know what levels of love there are. I do not like assuming.”
Kip laughed out loud. “Excuse me. I have just been slapped across the face for which I deserve. I love your innocence and then forget that you really are that naïve. Yes, I dare say you need me to keep your score. If it needs to be clear, you are officially my lady. We are seeing each other.”
She gave Kip a broad smile. I now have a ranking. I am your lady. Is this the first step?”
“No, I’d say we were on our third step. We have declared our love to one another. Touching the other in any way that was not a customary courtesy, such as a kiss, was the second step.”
“How many steps are there and what is waiting at the top?”
“That’s hard to say. If we are right for each other, it will continue to grow and strengthen.
“So which level is the most intimate?”
“Squeaks, don’t do this to me. Do not force me to put a number on it. I have never been to that level in love.”
“I hope it is under five, although two was a wonderful awakening. Do you think I am wanton? What does that mean exactly?”
“Good God Squeaks! I should be shot for chipping away at your virtuous veneer. I think we need a few days of separation to cool you down. You are frothing?”
“And you’re not?”
“I think I am barely under control.”
“How about that bump underneath me?”
“The bump?” Suddenly, Kip blushed.
“What step was that?”
“Actually, that can be part of the needy thing and be step zero or lower. Sometimes it is there when we least expect it or don’t want it.”
“Was it that way today?”
“Squeaks, you are going inside the coach. This conversation is over.”
“But you said to ask you, not the women.”
“I did say that, didn’t I? Well, now is not the time or the place. And don’t go asking your father or His Lordship. God, you are driving me insane.”
“I am afraid you created this in me. I am your responsibility.”
“I want that more than anything in life, but let’s take it gradually. I want to be a gentleman and not a rake or a swain. I want to show you respect above all else.”
“How is that going for you?” She giggled.
Startled at that, Kip laughed. “I thought I could leave that up to you, but I see I cannot. You have no boundaries.”
“Should I? Do you have boundaries?”
“I’m starting to believe I’m the only one on this ride today that does. And I am not doing a very good job of it. Just how much Byron did you read?” Kip had to wonder if these questions were in earnest or in jest. He hoped he never found out. It was an appealing part of her nature and fun, which he rarely experienced.
It was 7:00 p.m. when Kip arrived at his father’s for dinner.
“Come in, son. Chandler, get Trevor a scotch.”
“And another one for me,” shouted Augustus.”
“We’ve been looking for you. All we knew was that you took Miss Squeaks out for a ride. What a day to not be able to find you.”
“What is it, father … Gus?”
“Lilith’s body was discovered today exactly where Mary was found.”
The air in the room became thick. Trevor gulped his drink and refreshed it. A heavy frown formed as his father and Gus looked to him for some possible guidance …an answer …anything.
“How were you notified?”
“Richards dispatched a rider with a note.”
“And what has been done since you found out?”
“Gus sought out Inspector Marshall, and I went to visit the Blevins. I imagine they will tell the family. I would assume the police in London and Norcaster are communicating by telegraph.”
“Marshall is on his way there,” Gus interrupted.
“I will go tonight, father. My job isn’t critical. I will represent the family and talk with the staff and constabulary.”
“Thank you, son. Are you sure? This could be very hard for you.”
“Trevor, I will be up sometime tomorrow,” replied his brother.
“Yes, father. I want to do this. If dinner is ready, could we eat, and then I’ll be on my way.”
Trevor wrestled with his decision to return home for the challenging sadness. The other Caldwell’s could be on this train, he thought. Within two hours he was at his door.
“I’m so glad you are here, Lord Trevor,” said Richards, looking exceedingly relieved. “I believe Chandler should be here on the next train. This way, Sir.”
As Trevor entered the sitting room, there sat Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell, half in tears. Inspector Marshall had been there about two hours, and the local constable was present. No one knew to introduce him to the other Caldwell’s.
He walked over to the distraught couple. “I am sorry to be meeting you under such tragic circumstances. I am Trevor Caldwell.”
The couple bowed, and Trevor asked them to sit. “Please let us have no formality during these few days. My father wishes to be here, but I am afraid he cannot face another death as has happened. He sends you his best and please honor this house with asking for anything that you need. My brother, Gus, will arrive tomorrow. Inspector, advise me on what you know.”
“I would prefer to do it elsewhere, so these poor folks don’t have to hear it again.”
“Indeed. Would you please excuse us, Sir and Lady Caldwell?”
Trevor, the constable, and the Inspector went into the study across the reception hall. He walked to the bar and asked for drink orders. He was the only one, so he fixed it for himself. All were seated within minutes.
“Lord Trevor, unlike your sister, this young woman was beaten and raped elsewhere, but her body was brought here. The doctor assumes, at first glance, that she died of internal injuries, but there was a strangulation attempt. He believes the body to have been there for about three days. Your brother ordered the icehouse to be torn down, and that was how she was discovered.”
Trevor rubbed his forehead as the Inspector continued.
The body has been moved to the mortuary, where she will be examined and then made ready for transport tomorrow. Her parents will take the same train. I shall stay on here for a few more days and ask around and inspect the site.
“Is there nothing we can do?”
“I will soon speak to your Butler, Chandler when he returns since he has been here the longest. We are sure, now, that it is a revenge killing. Chandler may know things he doesn’t realize he knows. We will talk with him after the Caldwell’s have left for the train. He will assist us with all your previous staff. He has decades of records, I understand. Since Mary was attacked first, this vendetta would seem to stem from your side of the family. We will also look into these other Caldwell histories. Again, the other Caldwell families have been alerted. Both women were young and ‘out.’ They were visible to the public. There are no other females in the Caldwells that match this scenario.”
“What scenario would that be, Inspector?”
“We believe a Caldwell member or Caldwell staff could be responsible for these deaths. It is only the women. The men could be targets, but we don’t think they are. The revenge seems to be aimed at women. We are most likely looking for a man who may have resided in this household. Our initial assumption now is that some harm, discharge or disgrace may have come to a woman who worked here. Unfortunately, I think your uncle, Nathaniel, is at the root of this revenge. Being almost 20 years ago since Sir Nathaniel was asked to leave; and if he is the cause of these murders, a plan has been in the works for a long time. You continue with your coachmen, and I’ll work with Chandler on your previous staff. The end may be close.”
“My father has spoken of Nathaniel. Have you heard that story?”
“Yes. His Lordship and I discussed him at length after Miss Mary. How are you doing, by the way? I see you driving in London, using another name and wonder why?”
“I had to get away. It is that simple. Being Mary’s older brother and her protector I wanted to shoulder all of the blame and I couldn’t do it here. Perspective was needed, no matter the time it took before I felt I could assume the role that is planned for me. I have quite enjoyed being with the lads. We are seen but not noticed. A lot is known to us but no one else. It came to me that at some point, perhaps the subject of Lady Caldwell would be mentioned whereby I could learn something.”
“Please don’t take on any retribution until I know about it. Can you promise me that?”
“No, sir. I cannot.
“Because you are a Noble gives you no special privileges where the law is concerned.”
“I am quite aware of that, and it has been considered. I will tell you, now, if I find the killer of my sister, I will dispatch him myself.”
“There are at least two of them. We know that much.”
“I know that, also.”
“I am warned, sir.”
“It is past 11:00. We should return to the parents.”
The following morning, Trevor gathered every servant and had a long conversation with them. First, he spoke about his feelings of Mary, trying to help him. He mentioned how comforting it felt and hoped they could see it the way he did. That seemed to appease most of them. Anyone wishing to leave their employ would go with a good reference.
Later, he, Chandler and the Inspector would have a conversation after Chandler had pulled out his old books. To fill his time, Trevor rode his horse. He could feel the wind whipping through his long untethered hair as he sprinted through the nearby riding acreage. A thought came to him, and he rode across town to see the Friesian horse breeder.
After the mid-day meal, the house was quiet. He had nothing to do but reflect on the image of Squeaks in this manor house. Trevor took the stairs to Mary’s room once more. It was still the same. Her clothes had been removed, and he wondered what had happened to her jewelry. However, the wall-hangings and colors stayed the same. Even the furniture was as he remembered. He sat on the side of her bed. Eventually, he flopped back and spread his arms, looking at the ceiling motifs. Suddenly, Mary was in his head. Swirling her image with a vengeance. Trevor found it a bit frightening this time. She seemed angry. She even wore a frown if that were possible. He left her room thinking that being there could have upset her, but the anger did not abate. Something was wrong. He went to visit her gravesite. He wept during his talk with her and told her about Squeaks.
Trevor strolled into his father’s study and saw Mary’s portrait over the mantle. His father commissioned it three years before she died. The swirling image didn’t have much resemblance to the portrait at the moment. He rang for Chandler.
“May I help you, Sir?”
“Yes. Please close the door and come in. Do take a seat this time.”
“I prefer to stand, Sir.”
“I know you do, but I would rather you sat.”
“I want to thank you for what you have done for this family, especially in this past year and moreover these last few days. Who is with father right now?”
“Richards and I changed places for several days until the staff could be settled. I will be heading back tomorrow. Richards should be here before noon.”
“Did you listen when I talked with the staff about seeing Mary in my dreams? Lately, her image is getting stronger in my mind. I’m beginning to feel her presence without seeing her face. I am sure she is going to lead me to her killer.”
“Yes, Sir. I heard you say that. I remember you telling your father and brother about most it, except this more recent sensing.
“What do you think of that?”
“I cannot come to a decision on it, Sir. If you say it, I believe it. From someone else, I would question it.”
“I just came from Mary’s room a short time ago, where she appeared in my head again. This time, she seemed angry. I left the room, but something is bothering her. Do you have any ill feelings about this house or anyone in it?”
“Speak up, no matter how insignificant something may feel.”
“Sir, there is nothing to report. All feels as it should in this household. In fact, it is calmer than it has been in a long time. I am sure that is because you are here. They have worried a great deal about you, Sir.”
“Thank you, Chandler. I am returning tomorrow. You are excused for the night.”
What could be bothering Mary?
Kip didn’t remember seeing her this livid when she lived. He didn’t have a good feeling this time.
One hour and 40 minutes.
based on James Herriot’s cherished collection of stories, chronicles the heartwarming and humorous adventures of a young country vet. This new adaptation will preserve the rich spirit, tone and values of Herriot’s iconic characters and stories and will bring to life his sharply observed, entertaining and incredibly funny tales of country life in the North of England for a modern audience, introducing a new generation to his life-affirming stories.
With Nicholas Ralph taking the lead role of James Herriot, the cast also includes Samuel West as Siegfried Farnon, the wonderfully eccentric veterinary surgeon and proprietor of Skeldale House who reluctantly hires the
|The new series will also air on PBS for US audience|
recently qualified Herriot into his rural practice; Anna Madeley as Mrs Hall, the resident housekeeper and matriarch of Skeldale House; Callum Woodhouse as Tristan, Siegfried’s errant and charismatic younger brother; and Rachel Shenton as Helen Alderson, an independent local farmer’s daughter who helps her father manage the family farm and care for her
|Playground Entertainment, who is also doing Dangerous Liaisons for Starz and Tortall Universe epic series, is producing this mini series|
younger sister. Diana Rigg is Mrs. Pumphrey, the delightfully eccentric owner of the overly indulged Pekingese Tricki-Woo; Matthew Lewis is Hugh Hulton, a wealthy landowner and rival to James for Helen’s affections; and Nigel Havers is General Ransom, the fastidious manager of the local racecourse.
Nicolas Ralph will make his television debut playing the lead in the remake of the popular British series “All Creatures Great and Small.” Ralph will play James Herriot, a handsome and compassionate veterinarian who brings his practice to the country. Christopher Timothy portrayed Herriot in the original series, which ran for seven seasons and 90 episodes from 1977 to 1990 on BBC1 and PBS.
This latest adaptation of best-selling author James Herriot’s cherished collection of stories is written by Ben Vanstone (The Last Kingdom) and directed by Brian Percival (“Downton Abbey”).
Samuel West (“Mr. Selfridge,” “On Chesil Beach”) joins as Siegfried Farnon, the wonderfully eccentric veterinary surgeon and proprietor of Skeldale House who reluctantly hires the recently qualifiedHerriot into his rural practice. Mrs. Hall, the resident housekeeper and matriarch of Skeldale House will be played by Anna Madeley (“The Child in Time,” “Patrick Melrose”). Siegfried’s errant and charismatic younger brother, Tristan, will be played by Callum Woodhouse (“The Durrells in Corfu”). Rachel Shenton (“Switched at Birth,” “White Gold”) takes the role of Helen Alderson, an independent local farmer’s daughter who helps her father manage the family farm and care for her younger sister.
“This is an exceptional cast made up of a wonderful mix of exciting new and established talent,” says executive producer Colin Callender. “Re-visiting the world of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ is like going home and re-discovering old friends whom we haven’t seen in years. We’re thrilled to be bringing James Herriot’s beloved characters back to life with Sam, Anna, Callum, Rachel and Nicholas.”
“This is exactly the right ensemble cast to deliver the warmth, wit and charm of ‘All Creatures Great and Small,’” says MASTERPIECE executive producer Rebecca Eaton. “Like the original, this new series will capture the hearts of MASTERPIECE viewers.”
Colin Callender’s Playground is producing an initial of six-episode season plus a Christmas special. It is the latest drama commission announced for Channel 5. MASTERPIECE on PBS in the US will co-produce and All3Media International is the international partner. The production will also receive funding and support from Screen Yorkshire.
With Richard Armitage as Adam Price
The eight-part thriller, produced by the same team that did previous Netflix Coben series “Safe,” starring Michael C. Hall, and “The Five,” goes into production in March. Coben will executive produce the series along with Danny Brocklehurst, who will serve as lead writer, and Nicola Shindler, the CEO of Studiocanal-owned production company Red. The director has not been named.
Armitage will play Adam Price, a happily married father of two whose life is turned upside-down after a stranger tells him a secret about his wife. The revelation catapults him into a larger world of conspiracy and danger.
Armitage, who also starred in “Berlin Station,” can currently be seen in “The Lodge,” directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, which will screen at Sundance.
Larry Tanz, Netflix’s vice president of content acquisition, called “The Stranger” a “riveting rollercoaster of a novel.”
Brocklehurst said: “It’s fantastic to reunite with Netflix, Harlan, and Red for another complex, emotional thriller. Richard Armitage is perfect for the role of Adam, and I can’t wait to bring our binge-able new drama to life.”
The Stranger follows Adam Price as a secret destroys his perfect life, sending him on a collision course with a deadly conspiracy. Price has a good life, two wonderful sons, and a watertight marriage, until one night a stranger sits next to him in a bar and tells him a devastating secret about his wife, Corinne. Soon Adam finds himself tangled in something far darker than even Corinne’s deception, and realizes that if he doesn’t make exactly the right moves, the conspiracy he’s stumbled into will not only ruin lives—it will end them.
Richard Fee will also executive produce the series. Madonna Baptiste will serve as series producer.
Web channel: Netflix Runtime: 60 minutes Status: In Production (May 2019) Show Type: Scripted Genres: Thriller
Check it out yourself: coming into theatres March 6th based on a novel by Jonathan Raymond.
What’s The Story?
A loner and cook (John Magaro) has traveled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon Territory, though he only finds connection with a Chinese immigrant (Orion Lee). The men collaborate on a business, although its longevity is reliant upon the participation of a wealthy landowner’s prized milking cow.
|The cow is out March 6th|
The Friday event
As Squeaks and Kip came to rest on the benches under the pavilion, she said, “I can only stay a short time.”
“I am aware of that. So, tell me, what did you learn tonight?”
“I learned how I feel about you.”
Kip audibly sucked in air, hearing that and not expecting it. “Did I pass muster?”
“I am asking if I passed inspection.”
“I think you should have a medal.”
“Would a knighthood be asking too much?” he smiled.
“That would be the perfect title to bestow as you championed me in battle.”
“In battle? Did I?”
“Suppose I had driven Lord Stokes tonight without you; what would I have done with all those men out there?”
“It would be the indoctrination of the twenty years you have waited.”
“Yes, I guess it would be. No matter how often my father or Lord Stokes tried to convince me of what I would be up against, I was sure I could manage. There are just so many of them, though.”
“Yes, there are many, but in the circles, you will drive, I think you will be among real gentlemen drivers. Certainly, any driver, driving for someone at the House of Lords will be beyond question. In your world that was all you saw; the handful in the Parliament area. Now, that you are out and about, you see the bigger picture of the world you have chosen. I doubt you accompanied your father on many night events. I know a good many independents and can say they are gentlemen, too. They would always come to your rescue. We are a brotherhood and police ourselves. The drivers who drive for a service have someone to answer to and could lose their jobs if they are not polite. Just stay away from the low-end districts.”
“I think I am aware of that. But even though they are gentlemen, how do I handle all the interest in me? I don’t think safety is my concern. I might be wooed to death.”
My God. She’s right. “Some are married, so it’s not all of them.”
“Suppose they think I belong to you; would that prevent the attempted wooing?”
“Yes, but not by me. After that wooing statement, yes, let us do assume you belong to me.”
Kip stopped there. Squeaks looked expectant for more of an answer.
“And this.” Kip pulled her gently into his arms and began kissing her face, removing her hat. As the curls unfurled, he swept his fingers through her long tendrils and drew them to his nose, across his face, filling his lungs with her scent. The gas lights around the park walkway lit her pale neck and porcelain skin. She was trembling. He was moving too fast.
Squeaks whispered, “Kip, I am going to faint soon. Please give me room for air.”
“God Almighty, I cannot help myself,” Kip said, holding his head in his hands. “I never lose control like this. I beg your apology even if this was welcome. I did not want to treat you this way. I was hoping you would accept me, and you have, but I have pushed past my own boundaries as a gentleman. I must take you home.”
Squeaks quietly stood as she wrapped her arm around his. She was delirious with emotions and sensations throughout her body, all new to her, but unreservedly welcomed.
When they arrived at his coach, Kip opened the door and asked her to sit inside. She entered without protest. He closed the door and stepped up to his bench.
The short journey to the Stokes’s residence was agony to Kip. What had he done? Had he frightened her? She was silent after his apology. “I am making a disaster of myself, my life.”
Fearing her words, Kip pulled the coach to a stop in the Stokes’s stable area, jumped down and opened the door. A shaking hand appeared, and he took it, assisting her out. He watched in painful silence as she walked towards the servant’s entrance without looking back. She had forgotten her hat, and her hair hung beautifully long. Everyone would know that something had occurred and question her. One of the stable hands came out to see who arrived, and Kip gave him the hat she had worn. “A gust of wind took her hat and hair,” he lied.
Kip pulled his team home. Disappointed in himself, a proper gentleman, a nobleman, and an heir apparent; he could not accept his own conduct. He was positive that he was falling in love but never expected to feel a fierce obsession. Perhaps it was the conversation of all the men wanting to woo her. Did he have to prove all of his love in one moment? He had apologized to her, hadn’t he? There was nothing left but to take what was handed to him.
The night kitchen cleaner was mopping the floors when Squeaks entered.
“Miss Squeaks, His Lordship wanted to see you when you returned. He’s waiting in his study. Are you, all right?”
“Yes, I am all right,” Squeaks uttered in her foggy voice. She shuffled towards Lord Stokes’s den, trying to pull herself together. She felt as if she had drunk too much of her father’s wine. She knocked.
She managed the door knob and the-now-heavy door; taking only a few steps into the room, which was unnatural for her.
“Come closer, Squeaks. Are you tired?”
“Yes, I am tired, sir.”
“How did your training go with Kip tonight?”
“Heavenly?” Stokes almost laughed out loud.
“It was a grand experience for me, sir. Kip said I did a good job pulling the team out onto the dark road. Nary a sway, sir.”
“He let you drive his team?”
“Well, we were talking when his rider’s name was called. He pulled into the line. There were torches all around our area, and I do not think he remembered he had not lit his lanterns on the coach. I pointed it out, and instead of me trying to light them while moving, he handed me the reins. I was out of the yard before he could take back his seat.”
“Bravo, Squeaks. I will feel thoroughly confident in you for tomorrow night. How did you do as footman, if I may ask?”
“I think I embarrassed Kip. Something happened that neither of us had thought about ahead of time.”
“You could embarrass no one. You must feel that way in your mind. What happened?”
“My bosom jiggled against the back window, sir. Lord Astaire thanked me for the view when he got out. He was laughing, sir.”
Lord Stokes thought he would burst through the seams of his night attire. Yes, he would hear about it tomorrow and suffer the embarrassment with a smile.
“I am sorry, sir. I have caused you embarrassment, too, I should think. I apologized to Kip. I wish I could have left them home, sir. I am too short for a rear footman.”
“I see,” he said, squelching his smile. “I believe no one would have foreseen that coming.”
“No, sir. Kip said he had thought everything through every step, every footfall, but never that.”
“How did he react?
“He felt Lord Astaire would not be embarrassed and said I should not apologize to him. He stated that he would. Kip said he had no intentions of hiding me and making people think I was a man. He was proud to have me, and then I go and do something like that. I had to press even harder against the glass to keep them from bouncing.”
“Bosoms … always drawing attention.”
“Excuse me, sir? Am I not supposed to be wearing something that keeps them from jiggling?”
“I would assume so. We shall find out in due time. Don’t mind me. Too much scotch tonight as your father and I worried about you. Any other stories to tell?”
“Yes, I talked with Kip about all the men who came to meet me. He made me sit on his bench and told them who I was and that I was his responsibility tonight, his employee.”
“Were they gentlemen?”
“Yes, they were. I do not fear for my safety anymore. I told Kip I might be wooed to death. Oh, and he kissed me. Will that be all, sir?”
Stokes cleared his throat, “Ahem … it seems you had a very exciting evening, then.”
“Then why do you have that glazed look?”
“I believe I said Kip kissed me, sir.”
“And this is the result? I shall have words with that man tomorrow if you feel impugned in any way.”
“Oh, no sir. I wanted him to do it again, but he said he didn’t feel gentlemanly. I guess he’s been thinking about kissing me, and maybe he was disappointed. I have never been kissed, sir.”
“How did that happen; do you think?”
“I was telling him I might be wooed too much and asked him what if people thought I belonged to him, would it stop.”
“He said, ‘what if you did belong to me,’ then he kissed me. After that, he brought me home.”
“Do you think he fancies you?”
“You think he was just playing with your affections?”
“No, sir. I think he loves me.”
“Are there time periods of falling in love, sir?”
“You have me there. I do not think so. And how do you feel about this driver, Kip?”
“I think I love him, too.”
“Have you two had words to this effect?”
“I would like to meet your Kip. I had heard of him before you met him.”
“We are going on a picnic Sunday. He will let me rein his horses. He wants to sketch me. Should he come and visit with you before we leave?”
“Yes, I would like to have a private chat with him.”
“That is all. You may retire.”
“Good evening, milord.”
Squeaks left the room. During the conversation, she knew she was saying too much, but the words spilled forth effortlessly.
Late in the evening, sitting on his sofa, Kip felt he would seek out his sister. “I am too impatient,” he told the air. “Where do I turn now? I will not survive the loss of another woman whom I love.” Kip began to imagine his dead sister. She was trying to tell him something. Her image swirled vividly into his mind. He was taken aback by the sharp details of her face. She is watching over me. I can feel it. Or do I desperately wish it to be true.”
Kip stayed awake a long time. He drew and drew again, the picture in his mind of Rebecca Dorset standing rear footman, turning towards him with a smile. To him, that was his pinnacle moment, He would still hope. His sister’s appearance left him feeling well about Squeaks. He wanted more than life to believe that.
The next morning, on his drives through the city, he kept wondering how Squeaks was coping at the Parliament yard. Boots had better take his place and stay near her. She would probably be proposed to before the day was over. He was adding salt into his own wound in some effort to exact revenge on himself for his thoughts of which she had no knowledge.
The hours wore on, and he stopped into the Horse and Harness Tavern for a meal with his friends. Of course, Squeaks was the topic of conversation, and Kip kept his smile, telling them how skilled she was. No remarks were made towards a romantic inclination. He was happy for that.
“Who are you driving tonight, Kip?”
“It will be Lord Caldwell.”
“What has happened to Briggs, his own driver?”
“I believe he has been called away for a short time. I might have Caldwell for several days. I will know more tomorrow.”
“I’ve got Lady Huston,” said Lucas. “She tips rather well.”
“Lucky you. I have Baron … Baron … oh, what’s his name? The one who dresses like a peacock all the time. He never takes a woman with him,” Jonathan added.
“And you know why that is, right?” Marc inquired, laughing.
“I do. I keep as much distance as possible. I hear he propositions drivers all the time.”
“Does he tip well, Jonathan?” They all laughed.
“Where are Matthew and Kyle?” Kip asked.
“Matthew was feeling unwell yesterday, and I think Kyle has been called back to the Met. They want several pictures of the coach to pass to the bobbies in Whitechapel.”
“Still no word on that Caldwell woman?”
“None, Kip. I wonder if she is related to your Lord Caldwell.”
“Her cousin, my rider that night, thought there might be a very distant connection. She had heard of an Earl in their lineage but had no knowledge how any of them were related.”
“Squeaks has her first night drive, tonight, right Kip?”
“Yes. You will not believe what happened last night.” Kip proceeded to tell them the story of lighting the coach lamps and Squeaks pulling the team out into a dark turn she had never taken or seen. And how she did it all with him going back and forth in front of her. “No sway or lean whatsoever, lads. I could have been walking a rope.”
“So, when are you inviting the lass out, Kip?”
Surprised at the question, he answered, “What makes you think I haven’t?”
“Well, in the past, you couldn’t have waited to tell us; that’s why we ask.”
“Why haven’t any of you asked her out?” Kip continued.
“I might just do that tonight,” said Lucas.
“Excuse me gents. I shall get back to making coin to take out this new driver.” He smiled at them as he left.
Kip thought about Sunday and his planned sketching. If she declined, he had no one to blame but himself. At least, he had the best sketch of her on his mantel at home.
Squeaks stayed on her bench most of the next morning. The crowd that came by to say hello was slightly smaller than previous days. Perhaps one day she might be able to stroll to other coaches and talk casually as drivers do.
Dusk would settle in an hour, encouraging Kip to end his day and head home. He would clean his coach, dress, and have dinner with his father and brother. After dinner, he would once again become Kip the driver, instead of Trevor Caldwell, the heir.
During dinner, Gus announced that he was thinking of asking for Regina’s hand. There were questions, and a discussion about the lady since Lord Caldwell had met her once, and Kip knew her not at all.
“I am happy for you, Gus,” Trevor said, shaking his hand.
“And you, Trev?”
“There is a lady I may wish to bring into my life, and there will be significant decisions to be made if she takes to me.”
“That wouldn’t be Lord Stokes’s driver, would it? His father asked. “I am afraid we had a jolly laugh at your expense over her predicament last night.”
“How did you know about that?”
“It seems Stokes waited up to see about her adventure, and she told him everything.”
“I would assume so, son. I know it was you who offered the additional night training for her last night. Was there more than the footman failure?” he laughed.
“What’s this?” Gus asked. “What is footman failure? Who is ‘her’?”
Trevor became red in the face. Over brandy and cigars, Trevor told them the story and how that part of his plan had never been considered. The three men laughed and smiled hearing it. They were not making sport of Squeaks but the fact that it happened under Trevor’s tutelage. “And yes, Father, I have an interest in Miss Rebecca Dorset.”
“Were there other tales from last night?” Gus inquired.
“Yes, but one is personal, and the other couple would take time that we do not have. Perhaps in the future.”
It was time to leave for the dinner engagement.
Squeaks kept pacing back and forth in front of her mirror. Did she look smart enough? Was her livery crisp and pressed? She had braided her hair so that not all of it was hidden under her hat. Squeaks ironed her black bow. She had talked to Jimmy, the footman, and pleaded to borrow his cravat. He gave in to her smiles, trotting off to find that part of his uniform. Jimmy tied it on Squeaks in an unassuming style. It was not to be frilly or fancy. It was to blend in with the shirt and be close to invisible.
“Squeaks, check your cravat often to ensure it has not turned on your neck. It must be kept neat at all times. If you ask to wear a pocket watch, you are headed into Butler livery,” he laughed.
“Drivers must have timepieces. They have to, don’t they? I am going to ask father.”
Squeaks tapped lightly on her father’s door, knowing he was still awake.
“Come in.” Clyde noticed the cravat immediately and smiled. “You look most becoming, Squeaks. Very professional. I am not sure I will have a job available to me when I am well.”
“Father, you know that isn’t so. Perhaps, I can work some evenings with Kip. Didn’t you wear a pocket watch? A silver one with a chain?”
“Don’t tell me you want that, too?”
“I think that will complete the entire look, wouldn’t you say?”
“In-service rarely need them because they just wait. It’s in my top drawer over there. Get it for me, Squeaks.”
She retrieved it as she announced, “Let me see if I know how this goes. Don’t tell me.”
“As you wish.” Clyde sat back and smiled at her fumbling. He could see some type of thought process going on as she started from the vest pocket backward toward the buttonholes.
“Isn’t the chain supposed to be seen, Father?”
“I will tell you that is a short chain, not a long one. It will not drape from both pockets as some seem to do today with the newer watches.”
“What do you mean? I see it has a key on the end and a small medallion of the Stokes’s coat of arms.”
“Yes, it also has a t-bar. All chains have a t-bar. That prevents the chain from sliding through the buttonhole. First, figure out which hand you will use to pull the watch from your pocket. Remember you may have reins in one hand. Place the watch in the opposite pocket from your rein hand. Slide the T-bar through the second buttonhole from the bottom of your vest. The medallion or any small piece of men’s jewelry is called a fob. It is strictly ornamental and is a personal choice.”
“Great. How does it look?”
“With your small body, it looks too big, but I know you are trying to look outstanding tonight. You have succeeded.”
Squeaks kissed her father on his forehead. “Thank you, father. I feel perfect. If I can only drive that way tonight.”
“There should be no issues tonight. I know the route, and there are no tight turns or road slants. Since it hasn’t rained for some time, there may be very few ruts to avoid. You will see Kip tonight?”
“I hope so.”
“If you have questions, go to him.”
“Father, I might go to him without questions.”
“You are scaring your old father with that talk. Don’t give your heart away so easily.”
“How can I help it?”
“He is the first man to approach you. It may not be real love, but it feels like it is.”
“When I have time, you shall tell me how to know the difference. I must go.”
“Good luck, Rebecca.”
“Good night, Father.”
As Lord Caldwell arrived at the coach, wearing his long cape, silk top hat, and ornamental cane, his son opened the coach door. Trevor kept his eyes forward, not looking at his rider. The step was already in place.
“Good evening, milord.”
His father smiled. “Good evening, driver.” He played along and stepped inside.
Trevor raised the step assembly, closed the door, and climbed to his seat. There he waited for the signal.
His father sat inside waiting for the movement, but it didn’t come. “Are you going to drive me tonight or not?” he chuckled.
“If milord is ready.”
“I am ready.”
Trevor paced the horses to a slow start. It was a strange feeling to be driving his father to a special event, being in his most elegant state of service.
The route and drive were uneventful, and his horses performed flawlessly. They trotted in tandem giving a light foot impact, which never kicked up divots on the road or grass parking areas. Trevor pulled up to the rented ballroom, and his father was attended by a footman. Hearing the door close, he paced the horses toward the parking yard and scanned the ring for Squeaks.