"Mama! Mama!" Bethany "Beth" Jane Holland shouted and ran as fast as her short little legs could carry her. She lifted her pink skirts slightly to avoid the mud that had formed due to the previous nights rain. As a lady she had been warned against running like a commoner, but she was in a haste unlike any other. As she neared the two women sat on the terrace gossiping, she started calling out.
"Mama! Mama!" Her mother Duchess Juliana Holland nee Bristworth looked up and saw her daughter running towards her, instant worry filled her heart and she stood and reached her daughter. "What is it Beth? What has you scared as white as a sheet?"
Beth took a moment to take in a breath as she looked at her mother. Pointing to the direction she had come from she spoke out of breath, "She's going to kill him, Mama."
The duchess started heading to the direction her daughter had pointed briskly followed by the woman she had been conversing with, Lady Amelia Sutton a dear friend of hers and wife of the solicitor in charge of their estate.
Juliana had invited Lady Amelia and her children to the countryside where along with her own children they would escape city life and drama if only for a short while.
The duchess neared the back of the barn and she could hear screaming. That made her walk faster. The sight that met her arrival was one that stunned her speechless. Looking at her dear friend Amelia she could tell that they agreed it had been a terrible idea to come to the countryside together.
Sarah Hope Sutton sat on her victims back, intent on him eating mud. She was immensly angry, then again she was always angry around him. He always found ways to drive her past the edge of maddening rage. At ten years old, Sarah was still short and that was something he always made fun of. Jonah Wes Holland was the bane of her existence. He was merely four years older than her but he strutted around as if she were a mere toddler. Not even her older brother treated her like that. Yes, he was the son of a Duke but that didn't necessarily mean that he chop off a lock of her hair, drown it in honey and send dozens of bees after her and her brother.
"Stop it! Both of you." Sarah froze at the sound of her mother's voice. She directed her gaze beyond the stunned duchess and hostess to her fuming mother. She then looked at her dress. The purple fabric was stained with mud and she was sure some of it was on her face and all over her hands and feet.
Standing up off of Jonah, she looked at the ground in shame hoping that her mother wasn't nearly as angry as she looked. She waited for her mother to yell at her but looked up when the duchess spoke.
"Jonah, what did you do?"
Jonah's mouth dropped and he sputtered, "Me? Why do I have to be the one always in the wrong? I was face down in the mud."
Juliana let out a sigh before calmly stating, "Yes, but we both know that you and that mouth of yours are constantly baiting Miss Sutton. So, I will ask again. What did you do to warrant getting your head shoved into the mud and don't you dare lie to me Jonah, because I'll know it."
Jonah swallowed the lump in his throat and spoke, "Mother, it was just a harmless joke, I didn't mean for anyone to get hurt besides it is simply not my fault that she has a temper as short as she is."Jonah finished only to howl in pain when Sarah stepped on his foot.
Releasing a sigh at the duo's antics Juliana looked to Sarah for explanation since she knew she couldn't and wouldn't get it straight from her son.
"Child, what did he do to make you so angry?"
Sarah smiled at Jonah's absolute discomfort and looked at the Duchess. "Jonah cut a lock of my hair while I was sleeping under the elm tree, he then covered it in honey and threw the lock on my brother's face. Dear Francis was chased by the bees from the hive he had obtained the honey. He's at the infirmary getting the stingers out."
By the time she was finished telling on him, Jonah was red in the cheeks and couldn't meet his mother's gaze. The Duchess looked at her second son with disappointment in her face. "Go to your room and no supper for you. I shall inform your father of this transgression and he will decide your punishment.''
Jonah was about to plead his innocence but the look on his mother's face said otherwise. He started walking toward the house only to look back at Sarah, the glint in his eye meaning that it wasn't over. The challenge in Sarah's eyes mirrored his own.
After he left the duchess looked at Sarah and spoke, "I'm sorry about what my son has done but revenge isn't usually the answer. The two of you have been full of antics ever since you learned how to walk and talk. The banter, although entertaining at times, needs to stop. You are a young lady and you know very well that women are more civilized than men. If he does anything stupid or reckless then come to me or your mother and we will handle it."
Sarah simply nod her head and gave a bow. Watching as the duchess walked away, Sarah was already planning retaliation when she felt a sharp pain her ear. Her mother didn't look very happy as she led Sarah by the ear back to the house to get her changed into a new dress and yell at her.
It wasn't really her fault it was that bloody idiot Jonah. He always found new ways to make her angry and frustrated. Now her brother was in immense pain and so was her ear. Blocking out the lecture from her embarrassed mother, she knew that pleading her case was a moot point because when it came to Jonah Holland she was supposed to be patient with him and act like a lady.
Although it was all Jonah's fault, she also had to deal with the consequences of his stupidity, then again she did try to drown him in a mud pool. That thought brought a smile to her face and she had to hide it from her mother who was now staring at her disapprovingly. Deep in her head the wheels were turning as she plotted her next attack. Jonah Holland was kidding himself if he thought that he'd gotten away from her without a fight.
This time he would be the one screaming because of fire ants in his bed or perhaps one of those slippery eels that cook likes to prepare. The possibilities were endless and even as Sarah feigned innocence as she listened to her mother's long lecture, she could feel a smirk hanging at the corner of her lip. It was definitely payback.