Listening in. Clearing the air.
Anna threw off her apron and walked quickly over to the stable, entering it quietly, hearing a low voice coming from within the farthest stall. David was sitting in one corner, staying out of sight, and he would not be able to see her.
She stood still and listened, steadily moving closer. Her heart was hammering in her chest at what she overheard as he spoke softly to Tornado.
Through some gaps in the door, she could see that Tornado had his head down in the boy’s lap, as though listening, as David scratched his brow and between his ears.
“I don’t know where he is, or where she is either, but she must be around here somewhere, and the girl I spoke to, as she helped me get dressed this morning, hadn’t heard that name. She said that Miss Anna was the one who’d ridden Tornado in. I don’t know what to make of it.
“What can I do now? I’m not yet up to going anywhere with me as weak as a kitten, and I don’t know where else to look for either of them, but she must be close to here, and so must he. If he sees those posters, like I did, he will not be long coming here himself to claim both of you, and to sort this out where I can’t, so I’d better stay here myself, if she’ll let me.”
‘Both of you’, presumably meaning Tornado and Samson. ‘He’ could claim her, at the same time!
David was still speaking. “I know she didn’t steal either of you. She is not that kind of a person. I know that about her already; she is kind and soft spoken. And Samson wouldn’t have gone with her as easily as he had.
“It’s more than I can understand at this moment. I should have come up from London a few days earlier than I did, and I wouldn’t have missed him, or her, and none of this would have happened.”
“It is not my place to tell Miss Anna what I think I know. Nor can I ask her outright what I need to know, but I must find some way to get out of here and let others know about this. If I were not so weak, I would go now, myself, and continue looking, but I cannot, and I shouldn’t. I shall have to see if I can get a message sent out.”
Anna listened for a few more moments, and then returned to the house, wondering what she could do to help both him, and herself.
When David emerged, he was carrying a leather satchel she had not noticed before. It must be his. He had left it in a safe place; in a corner of the stall or under the hay rack as a pillow. Jarvis had not noticed it. She would like to see that and what it contained.
It was time she cleared the air, and got some of the confusion out of the way for him, and he may be able to clear some of her own confusion away too.
He was her only link to that time, apart from Samson and her horse, but they could tell her only so much. And she suspected that David knew most of what she needed to know.
She would think about how to broach this topic; what to tell him, and what to ask him, before he retired that evening.
Before they knew it, he was sawing and chopping wood and reducing that pile of branches at the end of the stable, and even stacking the pieces by the side.
He was not used to hard work, and his hands were relatively soft, but he was not someone who felt comfortable accepting what others gave him without doing something in return, and he did not give up.
He raised blisters but said nothing until Hetty collared him and found an old pair of gloves without fingers, that he could wear, to save his hands.
Working outside as he was, he paused whenever he heard a horse approaching the house. He was attentive, as though he expected someone. Samson became infected by his mood and did the same.
After their evening meal, Anna approached him before it got dark.
“David of Murton.” She sounded severe.
“We need to talk. I overheard you earlier this afternoon in the stable, talking to Tornado. We need to share what we know, young man.
“Who are you really? And none of this stuff-and-nonsense about not knowing either Samson or Tornado, keeping us all in the dark.
He blushed up at her. There would be no escape from these questions.
“Despite what you would have us believe when you first came here, the horse knows you, as well as you know him, or you would never have dared sleep in that same stall with him, or know that it would be safe to put your own horse in the box-stall next to his. Samson knows you too, which means that you are another link to a life I need to recall and to remember, but I don’t.
"You were also asking, Molly, about 'Beatrice Angelica'. I know I can tell you something about her, if you will be patient with me.”
He brightened up to hear that. He would be patient to learn about that woman.
“What do you say? Let us be honest with each other.”
He realised he could not escape her questions, and waited to find what she would have to say, and to ask.
“You are well-educated as befits a gentleman’s son, and well read. I saw you in my library after lunch, running your eyes and hands across some well-loved titles. That satchel you have, also contains a couple of books and a diary. And no, I did not snoop, or read any of it. I saw them fall from your satchel, along with a drawing book when it tipped over that one time before you managed to retrieve them. You also carried a pistol, which few boys have the need of.
“You are in no danger from anyone here you know?”
He nodded. “I know that, Miss.”
“So. Do you feel like telling my why you are here?”
“I’m looking for a woman, Miss. A special woman. The one as brought Tornado here. 'Beatrice Angelica', is her name. You said you could tell me something of her.”
“And I will. But where did you learn those names?
"From a…” he stalled, so she prompted him.
“From the bible, in the small chapel at Murton Lodge?”
He nodded. She knew more than he’d realized.
“Those are my names. They were given to me by someone I met; someone I…”—she broke off that chain of thought— “someone who gave me those names, when I could not remember my own. Unfortunately, I lost touch with him after that, but I do not know how I lost touch with him.”
She sighed heavily, remembering that feeling of emptiness that had crept over her after arriving back home.
“Let me tell you more of my quandary, David.” That might help get him started.
“Almost four weeks ago, I went for a ride toward the river on my mare, Peony. She was nothing of the quality of Tornado, but she was my horse; a gentle horse of good character and impeccable manners; most of the time. I rode away with the intention of returning in time for the evening meal, if not long before that.”
He listened politely, but at least his main question had been answered as to who Beatrice Angelica was.
“I returned, as I intended, but discovered that rather than being absent for just a few hours, as I’d thought; I'd been missing for more than two weeks, and I had no idea what happened to me in that time, in between my leaving and returning. My memory of that time was a total blank at first, though snippets of it have been returning gradually in dreams, but never enough of them, or with enough detail for those two weeks. I was hoping you could help me with that.”
She decided to say no more than that of those returning memories and how they had unfolded and developed in such a personally intimate way for them both. They'd stood there naked together, not an ounce of shyness or embarrassment between them as they'd said their vows. That Bible told even more of its own story for those as could read between the lines and the urgency that had been spelled out there, along with some incriminating stains on that book and on the altar as they'd made love after that brief ceremony.
She blushed, thinking of that.
“I also returned here, not on my mare, but on Tornado, whom I knew very well by then, with Samson running beside me. I was dressed as I was never dressed before, and it all seemed usual to me, with nothing out of place or strange. It was as though everything about me was mine, and well-remembered, until I arrived here, my home, and learned the truth of it, after setting the entire house into uproar, with them wondering where I had been.
“I understood none of it and couldn’t remember much of it either, though some of it has been returning to me in dreams, as I said." She looked pointedly at him.
“Then you arrived, to create an even bigger puzzle. That, is why I ask, who you are? I think you know where I was, and who I was with. Am I wrong?”
David could see she was pale and was close to tears of frustration over not remembering.
“No. Miss you are not wrong, but I am not sure what I dare tell you, or what I can tell you.”
Anna’s heart was now beating in excitement. Perhaps now she might learn what she needed to know.
“Why is that? You can start anywhere; it will all be strange to me.”
“Because my brother’s gone missing too, when he should have been waiting for us at the Lodge. He’s never done that before. I can only think that my brother, and the man you married, are one and the same, but it’s hard to believe. He never had any time for women before, except for my mother and sister.
“Ralph, The youth, who brings supplies from the village, told me, that you had both gone out for a ride, but that my brother had forgotten something and had to return, before he went after her again to meet her, and to see if she could get her memory back as she thought she might, and to see that she got home safely, if she did... if she could find out who she was, but she seemed to need to be back at the river for that, where they’d first met.
“My brother came back an hour later, not finding her. She was not at the place they’d agreed to meet, the river bank, and he couldn’t find her anywhere. She’d not returned as he'd hoped she would, but must have got lost again.
"Ralph told me something of you; that my brother had been captivated by a beautiful young woman, a lady he’d pulled from the river and who was with him for a spell of time, but that she was gone again, and my brother had gone too, determined to find her.”
That, had been her, of course.
Anna knew none of that.
“ Ralph said that he’d never seen my brother so distraught, almost tearing his hair out, regretting letting you ride away alone for the first time since you’d landed up there, thinking that you’d only be separated by a few minutes, but at least he knew you were safe on Tornado, and Samson with you.
“That was over a week ago now. Henry’s never done that before, and he took very little with him. He’s never been gone this long without leaving a note saying where he was going, and when he’d be back.
“That was when I found that entry in the bible and the date on it, and some of his notes left in his diary, which he left behind too, and which I brought with me, along with his drawing book.”
He daren’t show her that. Some of those drawings of her… of them… were very interesting! It was not surprising he hadn’t recognized her immediately from them, with her now being well-dressed. In those drawings, she, his brother, both of them... had been naked!
It was a good job David had left neither that diary nor that drawing book for his mother and sister to find.
“Henry's notes didn’t make much sense until recently, but he described how he’d met… someone who didn’t remember who she was, or anything, and he was…”
“Go on, David.”
“And how he was in love with her. My brother, who’d swore he’d never marry! Except he did marry her, you, Miss. No doubt about it with it entered as it was in the family bible for all to see. My mother and sister will know about it by now, too, and will not know what to think or to believe until my brother gets back.
“He explained in his diary, how he’d had to give her another name, as the lady couldn’t remember her own name.”
Anna filled in again from there. “Beatrice Angelica. I remember saying our vows and signing with that name.” She blushed, remembering much more after that., and there had been drawings, many drawings he’d made of her, and of them, together, explicit drawings, and David had seen them!
“I told him that a proper lady (which she could not possibly be, after giving in to him like that) should have at least four names, and he said he would think of others later.” Much later. But they’d never got around to it after that.
David came back into the conversation. “When I heard about him taking off after her like he did, I went after him too, but I didn’t know where he’d gone, or what direction. Then, after a few days, I saw some drawings of Tornado and of another horse; ‘Peony’, and some direction was given on those posters to this estate, so I came here. I had hoped to find that my brother was here, but he wasn’t. I’m torn between looking for him farther out, or waiting here for him, but the way I feel after that fever, I knew I’d have to wait. A proper confusing story it all seemed, though Samson tells me all I really need to know, the way he trusts you.”
“I remember too little myself. I remember being pulled from the river, but cannot recall much after that, or meeting him, properly, but I must have done.” She would go no further down that path.
“Can you tell me about your brother, please? I very much need to know.”
David’s brother was the man she was in love with, though she could not see his face clearly in her mind, which refused to open any more, on to that missing time, but it was, love; considering the loss she felt, the pain, and this unmistakable yearning about some great loss from her life, and what had happened to her.
“Tell me about your brother. You said his name is, Henry?”
“Yes, that’s his name. Henry, William, Ewart, Broadhurst; same last name as mine.”
“It seems that both of us are looking for your brother, then, but at least you know who and what you are looking for, whereas I don’t.”
Anna made up her mind about something. “You can tell me about him later. Please come with me, David. I have some things to show you while there is still enough light, and I would like to know what you can tell me about them.”
She led the way into the house and up to her room, followed by both David and Samson.
David followed her into her bedroom, reluctantly, but it was all familiar to Samson who flopped down beside the ready-laid fire.
“When I returned, I was wearing this dress.” Anna picked it from where it was hanging. “Do you know it?”
“Yes, Miss. That's one of my sister’s new dresses, sent up here from London to await her arrival, and never worn. How come you have that?”
"That was what I was wearing when I returned here on Tornado. It was very daring of your sister to ride as this dress allows... astride." She giggled, thinking about it. "I shocked Hetty out of several years of growth when I rode in like that, on Tornado.”
“My sister would never ride like that, either Miss. It’s for riding side-saddle, and she was bringing her saddle up with her.”
Anna decided to say no more that might embarrass them both.
“And these?” Anna showed him the jewelry she’d had on her person.
“Oh Lord!” David must have picked up that expression from Hetty.
“Where’d you get those, Miss?”
“Your brother gave them to me. I think he did. I do not clearly remember. I was wearing them when I arrived back home. I would never think to go riding, wearing any jewelry.”
He was still having difficulty grasping what he was seeing, but believed her.
“But how could you not remember, Miss. Those are….” She could see a brief look of disbelief pass over his face.
"The jewelry and rings belonged to our grandmother and were given to Henry to give to….” He paused.
Anna prompted him. “To give to…? Go on.”
“To give to the woman he married, but only after they were married, and as a wedding present!”
David had gone very quiet, but was looking at her intently. “Do you not remember anything, Miss?
“Too little to know anything.”
She wouldn’t tell David about this other, that she’d found out about in only in the last day or so, growing in her womb.
“I have dreams and flashbacks to that time. I remember... not very clearly... that I fell into the river as I was crossing it, and that your brother rescued me as I was on the point of drowning. I seem to remember being pulled down the channel and how absolutely cold it was, and then I was hauled up from the water, more dead than alive, and taken to a place of warmth, but it took forever for me to get warm.
“After that, I remember being happy, of walking in a rose garden, of laughing, with a man just a little taller than myself walking beside me.
“And then, it all changed again.
“I was at the river, alone, thinking that I had only just come across it, and that I had been away for longer than I had anticipated that day, and that I should return, I did not know that I was on a different horse, or dressed any differently, or that I had agreed to wait for anyone, as you tell me.” She was still puzzled over the sudden change of perspective from one life, to this other.
“It did not strike me at that time that there was anything different about me, my dress, the jewelry (who goes riding wearing Jewelry like that?), the horse, or Samson, until I arrived home and saw the surprise on everyone’s face and learned that they’d had search parties out to find me, and would never give up, though fearing the worst, by then.
“I remembered nothing at all. Nothing they said made any sense to me. And then I learned of….” She should say nothing of her pregnancy.
“I have two weeks missing from my life, and haunting memories of never feeling happier than I felt at that time, but remembering so little of it."
David had never heard of anyone losing their memory like that.
She blurted the rest out, unable to hold it back any longer. “I am also pregnant. If you know what that means, David of Murton?”
He knew what that meant, and began to laugh before he caught himself and blushed.
His brother had really done it this time!
“I hope you see now, why I need to find him?”
“Yes, Miss, I do, and my name is not David of Murton, but David Broadhurst.” She had already learned that.
Anna began to cry in her frustration.
David was not sure what to do, but he knew that she was telling him the truth about what she remembered, and he also knew why his brother had taken off after her, being so deeply in love, as that marriage and those drawing showed. And she was carrying his child. Already! Henry had really fallen hard, but so had she.
His heart went out to her.
He could not leave here now. He had to stay, but would somehow get word to his mother and sister.
Henry had expected Anna (Beatrice Angelica) to wait for him, and when he could not find her at that place they’d agreed to meet, had gone looking for her. That was the only explanation that made any sense.
“I now know that his name is Henry Broadhurst; that I have a horse and dog that belong to him; a dress that belongs to his sister, and jewelry that belonged to his grandmother; and that I have no right to have in my possession. And I also know that I am carrying his child."
“You have every right to the Jewelry, Miss. They were given to you freely, and as a commitment to love you, and as a marriage present.”
“And I know none of that.”
“But I do. I know my brother. He would never have given them to just any woman that he met. She would have to be someone very special.”
And Henry was yearning for her at this moment and striving to find her, just as she was yearning for him; but David could do nothing. He did not even know where his brother was, any more than she did.
“Did he tell you nothing of me?”
“He couldn’t, Miss. I never saw him to speak to, as our paths did not cross. He disappeared at about the same time you did from what the lad said, and just a few hours before I arrived. All I know is what Ralph said, and what my brother's diary spoke of, and that entry in the bible.
“I have not heard from him since, and I did not know what to think until now.
"I found you, Miss, from the posters you had put up, describing your horse, ‘Peony’, and another poster of Tornado. Henry will find you the same way I did. It will just be a matter of time before he finds us.”
He wanted to believe that, but it was worrisome not knowing where Henry was.
“I will need to write, and let my mother and sister know that I am alright. I will try not to worry her about Henry, and will not tell her anything of this, or of you, or where I am.”
It was clear that he was worried about his brother. So was Anna, now. Henry was missing, just like she had been.
They could do nothing but wait.
“Until you recover from those blisters on your hands, David, as as we wait for Henry to find us both, you will stay close to me while I visit some of the outer farms on the estate. I will not misplace another one of your family, or your mother and sister, and Henry himself, will never forgive me.” At least he was able to smile about that.
“Mr. Frith will be busy for a few days, so cannot accompany me. You shall do that, and let your hands rest. You have cut enough wood for a month or more.”