Aernford was the type of town that was shrouded with a grand history of mysteries layered upon mysteries. It was the type of town where anything was believeable to the older folk that had experienced more than anyone else could stand believeable. There were three old families, that had lived in Aernford, generations and generations of strong minds unable to solve any mystery of Aernford with logic and bravery.
One of these three families no longer lived in Aernford having moved far away to Scotland many years prior, one of them had mostly died due to another of Aernford’s great abnormalities and the third, well the third were the Merryweathers. They resided outside of town, in a nearby village called Oxwail, in their second house, which was undoubtedly smaller than their manor house in Aernford.
Their house was much smaller, and not at all suitable for a growing family.
Footsteps echoed in the Merryweather house in Oxwail. Tip Tap. Tap. Tip. Footsteps echoed as somebody grew closer, walking fast on the pretty red and black stone floor. He or she took the stairs two at a time, his or her shoes leaping over the fabric as if he were a swan darting ofver the water. He or she gained momentum, darting over the steps, with beauty and grace, with the feet of a dancer.
And whilst whoever it was’s feet soared and plied, four impatient figures whistled in their destination. An eggshell blue drawing room, famous for it’s painting of the lady of the house with its real gold frame, a wide room where these four people were; a man sat down with boyish features, a young woman also sat down, a young maiden standing by an older lady reclined in a long seat with her legs stretched out in front of her.
"I don't suppose you'll sit down for an hour or two whilst you wait for George to come back with the test results, Poppy. Norlan dear, fetch your brother from the study, I have half a mind to lock the door for a few days, maybe Stuart will forget that he has a family if he stays in there for too long, mind you!" The older lady shuffled her blanket over her legs and rested her head back as if she needed some grapes from some stereotypical greek kingdom.
"Yes ma'am." A disgruntled Norlan pushed himself up to his feet from the floral couch he had been sat in. He made his way through the doorway his head bowed and his hands in his pockets, he looked like he had done since he was born, like that of a petulant child disappointed and desperate without hope and worn.
"Lizzy darling?" His mother gestured to the maid, her hair greying and her voice croaking with the familiarity of sickness that she had been cultivating in her lungs. "Do pass me a lighter, I must have a smoke." Lizzy passed the lighter with a concerned gaze, she didn't like that her mistress smoked in the house, with the windows shut but there was nothing she could say to her, not when George wasn't in the room.
"Master Norlan." George bowed his head in acknowledgement to Norlan, as the young man took to the stairs two at a time, without reply in return. "Well, okay then." George looked up and crossed the wooden floor in long powerful strides. He reached his mistress's side in no time. "I have the results, Lady Merryweather, where do you wish to read them?"
“By the window, Georgie.” Poppy spoke up, her voice cheery as she looked at the butler, but soon dry and devoid of emotion as she turned to her mother. “If it’s true, positive I mean. If I’m pregnant, what will become of me?”
“I’ll send you to your sister Lucy’s, where you grew up, at the manor house. It’s far enough from the town that you won’t be attacked, and it’s far enough away that no one will come looking for you-”
“And what of Nicholas? What are you going to do with him?” Poppy leant forward in her seat, and then jumped as her mother broke into a bough of coughs and she wasn’t stopping any time soon, so she stole a glance at George who reluctantly passed her the letter containing the results of her test and turned towards the window. His expression was cold.
“Nicholas. He’ll be sent to the city to work for your uncle, you may not see him for a few years, my dear. And maybe even then, you may not want to.” Poppy’s eyes watered and she shook her head.
“No. He’s coming with me. Georgie, you can’t take him away from me. I need him.”
George turned to her and his eyes softened. “I know, he’s my friend too. But you shouldn’t depend on him so much.”
“Why not? You have Lizzy. You two are getting married next year, I don’t see why I can’t do the same with Nicholas.”