Death At Glamis Castleby Robin Paige
Lord Charles Sheridan and his clever American wife, Kate, have been summoned by the king to clear the name of a prince who's been living secretly at Glamis under an assumed name, while keeping his true identity secret.See more details below
Lord Charles Sheridan and his clever American wife, Kate, have been summoned by the king to clear the name of a prince who's been living secretly at Glamis under an assumed name, while keeping his true identity secret.
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Wednesday, 14 August 1901
We now enter Housesteads, this city of the dead. All is silent; but dead indeed to all human sympathies must the soul of that man be who, in each broken column, each turf-covered mound, each deserted hall, does not recognize a voice telling him, trumpet-tongued, of the rise and fall of empires, of the doom and ultimate destiny of man.
The Handbook of the Roman Wall, 1885
J. Collingwood Bruce
Finding a comfortable spot among the basalt outcroppings, Kate Sheridan set down her camera, dropped her canvas pack, and took several long breaths. Climbing to the top of the craggy peak had not been easy, but her perch afforded a stunning view of the rugged north country.
Below and to the east, she could see the remains of the old Roman Wall erected at the command of the Emperor Hadrian, snaking across the green hills of Northumberland, its spiny ridge lost at last in the late-summer haze and clouds along the distant horizon. Nearer at hand lay what was left of the stone walls of Housesteads, the fortified Roman camp where her husband, Lord Charles Sheridan, was helping to complete the excavation of the main street, the via principalis, in the company of five or six members of the Newcastle Society of Antiquaries, and where Kate had been taking photographs. Earlier in the day, she had walked through the ancient fort with something like awe, treading on the stones that had been worn by the feet of Roman soldiers, tracing with her fingers the Latin words dedicating a stone altar to Jupiter, reflecting on the rise and fall of that long-ago empire and itsgods, now all but forgotten in the crusade to build a new British Empire.
Kate picked up her camera--a compact twin-lens model--and looked through the viewfinder. This was a fine vantage point from which to take photographs, and she snapped several, intending to develop them that evening in her new portable developing tent. As she turned to take another, she noticed her husband, who was seated far beneath her on the stones of Hadrian's Wall, gazing contemplatively over what had once been the home of the fierce and barbaric Picts. Not far away, their Panhard was parked at a precarious angle on the slope beneath Housesteads--the very first automobile, according to the Newcastle group, ever to have jolted its bone-jarring way to this section of the Wall.
When Kate finished taking pictures, she sat down and opened her pack, pulling out the packet of letters she had received that morning at the Princess Lodge in Haydon Bridge, where she and Charles had stayed the night before. The first smelled faintly of lemon furniture polish and was from her housekeeper Amelia, letting her know of the goings-on at Bishop's Keep, where Kate and Charles lived for much of the year: the cozy, domestic details of kitchen and garden, of household staff and the nearby village of Dedham, that made home seem suddenly sweet and precious to her. They had been away for a fortnight on this trip, and now that autumn was almost upon them, she was anxious to be back in East Anglia.
The second letter, informative but smelling of Indian cigars, was from Mr. Crombie, the master of Kate's School for the Useful Arts. The school admitted a dozen women, most of whom came daily from the neighboring villages to study horticulture, dairying, bee-keeping, and orchard management. This ambitious project had been Kate's dream for several years. If it succeeded, it would give its graduates the skills which would enable them to earn an independent living in rural areas, without the necessity of moving to a city to find work in some factory or sweatshop.
The third letter, much briefer and smelling of typewriter ink, came from her editor, thanking her for the manuscript of Death on the Moor, which she had submitted just before she and Charles had come away on holiday, and promising its publication in the early spring. This was indeed good news, but she had saved the very best letter until last. Chatty and casually affectionate, it was from Patrick, the fifteen-year-old boy whom she and Charles had taken as their own and who was now at Newmarket as an apprentice to George Lambton, one of the country's leading horse trainers. Newmarket was near enough to Bishop's Keep for Patrick to come home on the weekends, and she was looking forward with pleasure to seeing him again.
Kate replaced the letters in her pack and took out a fountain pen and notebook. Under the pseudonym of Beryl Bardwell, she had been a published writer for seven or eight years, first in her native New York (where she lived in a garret and composed penny dreadfuls for a sensation-hungry public), and after '94 in England, where she had enjoyed a gratifying success as a novelist. Death on the Moor was a gothic sort of thing, set on the wild, wind-swept reaches of Dartmoor and inspired by an adventure that she and Charles and Conan Doyle had shared earlier in the year. For her next effort, Beryl was thinking of an historical novel in the style of Sir Walter Scott, whose Waverly novels Kate was rereading with great delight. Unfortunately, historical fictions were not quite the thing in these modern days; with the death of the old Queen, the advent of a new King, and the coming of the twentieth century, everyone seemed to want to look into the future, not the past. But the estate bequeathed Kate by her aunts allowed Beryl to write whatever she pleased, and she had been further freed by her marriage to Charles, a landed peer--although his dutiful attendance in the House of Lords took her to London for longer periods than she liked and required her to perform tedious social obligations which she abhorred.
Kate gazed out across the landscape. For a time, she and Beryl had toyed with the idea of writing a novel set during the Roman occupation of Britain, but while they had enjoyed their visit to the Wall and had been impressed no end by the ancient fortifications, they hadn't been inspired. In fact, Beryl's well of inspiration seemed to have run entirely dry, and she couldn't seem to find anything that enticed her. Now, after making a few notes about the landscape, just in case Beryl changed her mind about Roman Britain, Kate put the notebook away and picked up her camera again, thinking to take a photograph of Charles, who was still sitting on the Wall, gazing northward in the direction of Scotland. He did not seem aware that he was being approached from the rear by a man on horseback, in a very great hurry. The hair on the back of Kate's neck prickled as she recognized the man as the local constable, whom they had met the week before. She watched for a moment as the constable dismounted from his horse, ran up to Charles, and handed him an envelope.
With a small sigh, she stood up and reached for her pack. She had the feeling that their leisurely holiday was about to be interrupted.
--from Death at Glamis Castle by Robin Page, Copyright © 2003 by Susan Wittig Albert and William J. Albert, published by Prime Crime books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher.
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