On a Wall

Caroline Tadcaster was in her years prior to when she would fully blossom into a woman. She had not chosen to dress, though, for that period of her life. She dressed in a manner that said to all who gazed upon her that she was a young lady who had left the

The End of the World-A Sample

schoolroom behind her. Such would be a lie, and upon closer examination of her face, her form, and her choice of vocabulary when one listened to her speak, an educated person could tell.

That her dress, a peach and cream muslin, had some fullness in the bust to provide firmness and carriage there, would also attest to her being on the cusp of her adult years. With a blue Spencer coat on, for it was not warm near the bluffs that looked to the sea, her dress was cut low enough that her developing bosom showed a little, though not greatly for who was there to be tempted by such sights near Portreath and Redruth? Just some men of industry who oversaw the shipping between Cornwall and Swansea in Wales.

Here at Portreath the mined copper was leaving, most from her father’s mines, and the coal arriving to be used at those same mines. Two of the five handsome men who toiled in that enterprise were married, which left but three men of consequence though none of station, for they toiled. That would be how Pamela Merwyn would put matters.

A man of trade would be no match for her, or so her father, who himself had started with the copper ore beneath his nails as a lad also, thus remarked. Doing so often and with vigor. Her father Gavin was a proud man that had never let his three sons, all older than Caroline, work with pick or shovel a day in their lives. No, no working man for her.

Caroline sat on the stone wall that provided a good perch to watch the boats come and go. She could not see anything from their new house in Redruth, or more correctly the outskirts of Redruth. Gavin Tadcaster had constructed the biggest manor he could afford, with twelve rooms on the second floor, though they hardly ever entertained guests that would need to stay overnight in any of them. It had allowed Caroline to move from the schoolroom to her own suite, a bedroom, dressing chamber and small drawing room. She was encouraged to spend time in the very large drawing room on the first floor when not in the schoolroom under the hawk-like eyes of her governess, Mrs. Appelthwaite.

Caroline giggled. Mrs. Appelthwaite’s eyes were not really those of a hawk, but giving the woman such an animalistic trait made her seem like more of a keeper then a teacher. Truth was that Mrs. A did teach her the classics, needlepoint and household management skills any young wife of society should learn and master. It was days such as this, when Mrs. A was stricken each month with her flux, that Caroline ran to be free. Her own monthlies were not as bad.

A few miles, and Caroline could perch on farmer McCardle’s wall, watching the ships come and go from Portreath. The sun had warmed the land and she had chosen a path to walk that led her mostly around the fields of farmers and tenants, many of whom worked at her father’s mines. The women and young children were about and she gaily waved. Some houses were set right near the road she used, but the farms were back aways from the road. The farms were less fragrant with the living of humans atop one another.

Caroline was well known, as Gavin Tadcaster employed many people. She had no treats and did not carry a basket, so the children that she passed only came round for a moment then ran back to their homes. When houses faded away, the wind would rustle about the branches of trees or stalks of grain in the fields. Some leaves along the path would squirrel down the path she walked. The water that had drenched them so recently made them smell fresh and clean of the odors trapped in the great house. She reached McCardle’s farm and found her perch. The faint hint of the ocean, which she could see, carried on the wind also, and its saltiness she knew was too far to feel, but she would swear to all she tasted it upon her upper lip.

Then she heard the rhythmic sound of a horse coming up the lane. Not the sound of a cart also, which meant a rider. She craned her neck and saw a man coming in the distance who would be upon her presently.

Knowing some of the things that would get men to stop, she positioned her head a certain way, her eyes big beneath her bonnet. The man she had determined had clothes that fit well, though she would find they had seen better days. His cloak was travel stained, and showed signs that the recent rains of the past few weeks had fallen on him. That he travelled alone told Caroline that he did not have a man servant so he was not Tonish. His cloak was dark, over a coat of blue. A colorful blue with what seemed to be a hint of purple sheen to it. That it was a coat with a sheen said that he had perhaps purchased it second hand, for it certainly would be more at home to a drawing room or the city, rather than the road.

She could see that he wore a cravat and had a waistcoat, which spoke that the man had pretensions, for he was not a mere man of trade. She could see little of his pants as he rode, but she could see his boots, and they were the two-tones of Hessians, though no tassels showed. Purchased second hand, such would be the case. Her three brothers would scoff at such a man whose boot tassels had frayed off through use, or purchased used.

The rider had a hat, and it was clearly meant for travel, keeping the rain from his face, though the day was sunny, the second such in a row. Caroline would not have run out on the first such, even if Mrs. Appelthwaite had her monthlies, for the stone rocks would be damp from the wet, or the grasses would stain her dress. There were some things she no longer did, for a woman had to look a certain way to catch the regard of a man.

She could not see the rider’s eyes, he was still too far from her, but she knew that if she thrust her chest forward, he would see her figure, and when she twisted her legs, the outline of her torso would make her bosom seem as big as it possibly could be. Her mother had died while she was still an infant and she had grown in a house filled with men. The housekeeper, Mrs. Heath, who had been taking care of the Tadcaster’s since father first was able to pay a housekeeper, told her that her mother was a beauty. John, her oldest brother, was no help in telling her such things, nor was her father, but Gerald, Caroline’s second brother, said he remembered their mama and that Caroline did look like her.

“Hello there.” The man said. He had arrived alongside Caroline on her perch.

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