Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chapter 5

     Angus left Mrs. Drayton to her duties to sit on the front porch and watch for the first sight of red hunt coats crossing the road on their cantering horses.  These were those who gave up early, more interested in the social aspects of the hunt.  As more and more riders gathered, the house was flanked on all sides with lathered horses tied to hedges and posts, hoofing the dirt.  A chatty group joined him on the porch.  Eventually he recognized his mare and the erect posture of Catherine as she firmly reined him across the road into the yard. She was alone. Her costume was noticeably dirty, her hair loose from its bun, and the expression on her face was one of utter frustration. Someone assisted her dismount. 
     A strange moaning came from inside the crowd as they divided to allow a single horseman through.  It was John Beavers leading the Colonel's mare.  His body was folded across the saddle.   Angus leapt across the bannister and ran down the front steps, pushing himself through the crowd.  "Let me pass!" He shouted.  He helped Beavers remove the body from the horse and take it inside the house.  "What happened?" Mrs. Drayton asked.
     "He was leading the charge when suddenly he fainted and fell to the ground."
     "Take him upstairs to his bed," she said nervously.
     While Angus and Beavers carried the heavy body up two flights of stairs, she rushed ahead to pull back the covers.  They laid him across the bed.  She sat beside him vigorously rubbing his arms and hands. "Wake up, dearest. "Oh dear God, let him awaken."
    "Did he break any bones?" Angus asked.
    "I would speculate so. When we tried to lift him, he was not conscious,  just laid there like a big bag of clothes."
     Angus stepped over to the bed and put his ear to his chest and listened. When finally he drew himself up again,  he said sadly. "He is gone."

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