20 June, 2017 by katelaity
Mither Wishart sent word to a friend of hers and then set about preparing for our adventure. By which I mean she went about the house muttering to herself as she gave instructions to her cook for various dainties (which pleased me) and considered various means we might require for our safety (which pleased me not at all).
‘Don’t worry,’ Tansy said as he munched a biscuit without a trace of concern for our well-being. ‘Remember Penzance? I expect it will be very like that. Perhaps.’
‘Perhaps! That is not at all comforting.’ I bit my biscuit with unnecessary vehemence which was not at all fair as it had not provoked me in any way. ‘I am not all that keen on going down the mine, as it were.’
‘If Thomas Rhymer is anything to go by, the mound is just an entrance and we will not be underground at all.’
‘And if not?’
Tansy considered the matter. ‘Then we shall have a pleasant day out with many tasty things to eat, or so it would appear from Mither Wishart’s efforts.’ The good lady bustled by just then with a basket of fruit, whisking away our teapot for a warming.
I reconciled myself to the idea, though I must admit I spent a rather restless night after the conversation between Tansy and Mither Wishart that flew giddily between Thomas Rhymer, kelpies, the fearsome witch queen Nicneven and a wide variety of unwise wanderers who ran afoul of folks in various wild places like the one we were bound for in the morning.
If only I were in my club, playing flechettes with the fellows and sipping a civilized concoction of gin. There was no gin to be found in Mither Wishart’s house and requesting it had set my stock rather low in her eyes after that. We had settled for whisky—Tansy somewhat gratefully it seemed—so at least I thought I would get to sleep rather quickly.
I had not anticipated the effects of that peaty concoction. It was almost as if the stuff were made by fairy hands. Even with my eyes shut, begging for sleep, the smell of peat seemed to bring visions of green rolling hills and dark wooded hollows that made me shiver with a strange awe.
I spent the night tossing and turning. No wonder I was out of sorts at breakfast, though the eggs and kippers certainly improved my stomach if not my outlook. Tansy flitted about with considerable energy, which admittedly was always his way in the early hours—a habit I often found difficult to forgive. But once I had digested my food I began to look on the day’s plans with a little more equanimity.
At the appointed hour some gentlemen arrived with horses for us. We recognized our carter John from the day before and Mither Wishart introduced us to her friend Robert Chambers, who was something of an expert on these matters apparently. I found myself somewhat comforted by his scholarly air, for he did not have the look of a wild adventurer. Indeed I soon discovered that with his brother William he was a publisher.
‘There are so many exciting ideas abroad in the modern world,’ Chambers confided to us. ‘I’m sure some will be proved nonsense but there is an exhilaration in discovery.’
‘That guides our journey, too,’ Tansy said as he dissuaded Mither Wishart from trying to attach yet another load of bread to the well-burdened cart horse who carried our sustenance. ‘Though we seek the height of absurdity, it is a sober investigative undertaking.’
‘With cake,’ I added.
‘I will take you somewhere with cakes beyond your imaginings,’ Chambers said with a chortle.
‘My imaginings are rather stupendously baroque,’ I countered.