Winter Wonder – a Story for the Darker Days

She’s like a midge in the summer gloaming, Mary thought, as her mama-in-law fidgeted around her. But she knew that this time she had to ignore her veiled threats and dark predictions. They had too much of a habit of coming true.

The realisation stilled her as she knelt above her struggling lord. It tore at the mists of memory hanging in her mind and through the rents she began to grasp meaning from those glimpses she’d been having throughout the day. Lady Grizel was at the core of this debacle somewhere. The fleeing shadow Mary remembered from seeing another in the gardens was connected with her.

“Malcolm,” Lady Grizel said peremptorily, “Send for Doctor Wilson. Her ladyship is in need of some of his medicine.”

That brought Mary to her senses and she exchanged glances with Lennox. She saw flashes of fire spark in his glorious eyes and knew he had come onto her side.

“No, Mama, Doctor Wilson is not required to attend Mary. It would be a good idea if Mrs Daiches came up from her kitchen with hot water and cleaned my cuts.”

“Lennox, how dare you offer an opinion on the health of the household’s women,” Lady Grizel said, not prepared to give up without a fight.

“Because I am sure my wife is not in need of more sedation. Laudanum is, to my thinking a dangerous preparation to give too often,” Lennox replied, and Mary recognised the tone of authority he used when he would not be thwarted. She rose from her kneeling position and turned towards Alfie.

“Alfie, my little love, why don’t you take Donal and go out to the mews to find Red Will. Tell him Duff needs his help and he’s to come to the house, please.” Mary smiled at her eldest. She needed to know who had defied his papa’s orders and driven him in from the country. In the meantime, it would still the panic over Lennox and Duff she knew he must be feeling, if he had a job to undertake.

She helped Malcolm ease Lennox off the tiles and into a chair with strong wooden arms. Mrs Daiches and one of the maids arrived with jugs of hot water and clean cloths. It was busy and only once they were sure Lennox had no grit or tiny shards of glass in his face, did she turn back to Lady Grizel.

Mary gazed at an empty hall.

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