The Height of Absurdity: Hilda’s Abbey 11.2

24 April, 2018 by katelaity

The Height of Absurdity 1

We began the long journey without any provisions, I am sad to say. All our food had been left with the horses, who presumably still waited in Scotland where we had left them. ‘Do you suppose they wandered off after a time?’

Chambers nodded vigorously. ‘They surely went back home as soon as they got hungry enough. When we reach the city I shall send word to Mither Wishart. She will sort everything. There was never a woman with such capacity for managing things.’

Our minds at ease about that matter, there was only the long journey to accomplish which I must admit I did not feel eager about. ‘When we arrive, I suggest we find lodgings at once. I should very much like to have a bath and a change of clothes. And a slap-up supper for that matter.’ Visions of roast beef were currently dancing in my head, surrounded by a host of roasted potatoes. It was making my mouth water, I can tell you.

‘Our clothes are in Scotland. It will take some time for them to arrive once we send word. Do you suppose they have the telegraph somewhere in Hartlepool?’ Tansy asked. ‘That would certainly help. I am in the mood for a change as well.’

I need hardly remark on my friend’s changeable nature, but it always mystified me what made him—or her—choose a particular form. Perhaps it was only whimsy, the need for regular change. I wondered what it would be like to be a woman, then decided we had been walking far too long and were in need of a rest.

We found a brook to refresh us and began trudging again toward the city. Soon we began to see more people upon the road as it broadened. Most were also heading to the city and soon we were able to buy some pies to eat, which stiffened my resolve I can tell you. A little gravy does wonders for the soul.

Even better we were able to negotiate with an easy-going carter to be allowed to sit in the back of his cart with a load of furniture that he was carrying into the city. ‘Wealthy folk with a new house,’ was his gruff explanation. ‘I don’t think they’ll mind you sitting on the chairs as they’ve got dusty from the road.’

It seems they had decamped from their country estate and decided they wanted to bring the comforts of home with them. I couldn’t imagine the country house having superior furnishings. Why, my family’s old place in Ratlinghope is a dreary one with furniture that seemed to have been made in the time of William the Conqueror. Not a comfortable spot to be found in that house unless one stretches out under a tree in the orchard—which I shall no longer find relaxing given our adventures in the other lands. Orchards are not the bucolic place I’ve always took them for. One must be on the look out for slumbering kings.

As we approached the city I was surprised to find it rather larger than I had expected. These northern towns I had imagined as rustic as Orkney but Tansy was quick to tell me of the long history of the place from Scottish occupations to the rise of the railway. Apparently the train between Hartlepool and Liverpool had raised the stature of the town considerably. After a time my mind drifted away from my friend’s excited recitation for I could smell the sea in the air and found it rather restorative.

Or shall we say I nodded off. One can hardly blame me: we had survived a considerable adventure in the other lands and had only one small meat pie to eat since.

I was startled away by our arrival at a fine hostelry. ‘I thought you gentleman might appreciate this locale,’ our friendly carter said with a little nod.

I rubbed my eyes and looked around. Now this was just the thing we needed!

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