The storm had been so wild that night; it seemed to circle the little cabin four times. The thunder was so loud that Laurie could not hear herself as she read to her brother, who sat on the settle opposite her, cleaning his rifle as he readied it for hunting in the morning. The thunder was also so loud that it muffled the sound of the persistent knocking on the door. The knocking was revealed at a lull in the storm.
"Someone is at the door Alec. But who could be out on a night like this?" Laurie wondered to herself, as she rose from her settle and crossed the small one room cabin to answer the door. As Laurie was about to open the door, Alec quickly joined her.
"Who are you, and what do you want?" asked Alec, as he slowly raised his rifle, and his sister opened the door.
When the door opened the brother and sister beheld the very bedraggled figure of Reverend Ezekiel Alderton and a stranger who looked quite out of place in the little cabin
Alec slowly lowered his rifle and invited the two men into the cabin. "What brings you out on a night like this Grandfather? It is not fit for man nor beast." Asked Alec, as he replaced his newly cleaned rifle back onto the rack above the cabin-door.
"This gentleman wishes to speak with you Alec." replied the Reverend Alderton, indicating the stranger, who had begun to remove his coat. After having removed his coat, he held out his hand and spoke in a curiously accented voice,
"Have I the honour of addressing Mr. Alexander Daniel Moore, son of Lord Justin Moore and Miss Esther Alderton?"
"You have that honour. Who are you?" asked Alec curiously.
The gentleman reached into the pocket of his waistcoat, and took out a modest looking card, which he gave Alec.
"I am Elijah Prendergast of Penhurst, Prendergast & Penhurst of London. We have served the family of the Dukes of Moorefield for generations. I have been sent here to inform you of the death of your Paternal Grandfather, the sixth Duke of Moorefield, and that your Paternal Grandmother wishes you home." replied the stranger.
"Sir, would you like some tea? The kettle is just coming to boil." asked Laurie, quietly.
"And who might this young Lady be?" asked Mr. Prendergast.
"This is Miss Laurina Mary Moore, my half sister. Her mother was my Father's second wife." replied Alec, knowing that Mr. Prendergast would immediately notice the features that would betray her heritage. He had done all he could to protect Laurie from the idiots who treated her like a second citizen because she was Indian.
Alec, noticing Mr. Prendergast's reaction to Laurie's features, bristled.
"Yes, Mr. Prendergast, she is part "Red Indian", but does that make her any less my father's daughter, just because Laurie's mother was my father's second wife? Would it matter to if I told you that her mother saved our lives, when a fever epidemic hit our settlement. Would it matter to you to know that Laurie's mother's people accepted my father and I without question. That she raised me from the age of six years? Would that really matter to you or all those hypocrites out there who pretend to accept Laurie, but then turn round and subtly show what they truly think of her." Said Alec.
"Alec, I understand, if he only wants you to go with him, I will go to Grandmother. She needs me." Said Laurie, knowing that her brother had always gone out of his way to defend her against the stupid people of the settlement.
"Forgive me, Mister Moore, it is just that I only had the information about your father's first marriage. Then it would appear that you have both inherited a share in the unentailed property of your Grandfather, but your Grandmother, the Dowager Duchess insists that you return to England. How old is Miss Moore?" inquired Mr. Prendergast.
"Laurie is sixteen and a half." replied Alec, in a curt tone, not knowing whether to accept this stranger's apology, or not.
"Alec, I will go to the camp tomorrow. You do not need to worry about me. I know that Grandmother needs me." Laurie said, as she brought the coffee to the table.
As the assembled parts of the cast of characters are drinking their coffee, I would like to describe my heroine. She is just a tad above average height, long jet-black hair, dark eyes, and the tan complexion of her Mother's people. Alec, is tall, with features similar to the miniature portrait that was sitting on the mantle, the portrait of Alec's and Laurie's Grandfather, the Duke of Moorefield. His hair is a rich brown, and his eyes are a dark gray.
"Miss Moore, you mentioned something about a camp," said Mr. Prendergast.
"To what sort of camp do you refer?"
"I refer to my Mother's people's village. I go there in the morning to live with my Grandmother, she is old. She is the village healer, I learn from her about herbs and medicine, she taught my Mother. She wishes me there.
"A Red Indian villa...?"Mr. Prendergast began incredulously. "Forgive me Miss Moore, it is just that as granddaughter of the Duke of Moorehead, you are also entitled to a share of your Grandfather's unentailed properties."
"Perhaps I do not wish my share. My Father told us how it was he came to America, how his own Father treated him." replied Laurie.
"Laurie!" exclaimed Alec. "My Sister and I are well aware of the fact that my Father came to America under a cloud, that our Grandfather accused him of stealing from the estate, and that he was paid to leave England. Under such circumstances one would wonder that we should return at all."
"Circumstances that your Grandfather came to regret. The items that it was believed your Father had stolen, were actually stolen by an ambitious cousin, who has since been disinherited by your grandfather, unfortunately Basil Devlyn was to say the least, not happy with this, and has sworn to have this codicil in your Grandfather's will declared void, he is a most unscrupulous "gentleman". Your Grandfather came to forgive your Father two years ago, it was then that this particular codicil was written and added to his will." replied Mr. Prendergast.
© 2000, 2001 Copyright held by the author.