1818, Lower Canada, British North America
It was spring at last, and the air was rich with the scent of freshly thawed earth being churned and ploughed. Glen Carlisle smiled with satisfaction as he went from censive to censivespeakingto the habitants as his mother and sister visited the cottages with gossip and small gifts from the manor house.
"It will be a good harvest this year, monsieur," Langlois, a leather skinned farmer, told Glen. "I can feel it in my bones."
Glen laughed. "You've said that every year since I've been in knickers, Langlois."
"Oui. And I've been right every time," the habitant retorted.
The sound of an approaching horse made Glen turn to see a rider in travel-worn clothes cantering towards the manor hours. Biding Langlois farewell, Glen left the censive. Madame Vallier, the housekeeper, met him in the entrance hall, informing him that there was a visitor in the parlour – an English visitor, she added with a slight frown.
The man stood smartly when he entered, to which Glen raised an eyebrow. Even the most diffident of his habitants rarely did more than nod their heads soberly at him.
"I was told you wished to see me?"
"Yes, milord," the man replied. His accent was that of a man newly arrived form England. "I've been sent to give you this." He held out a heavy envelope sealed with red wax.
All the way from England to deliver a letter? Glen thought, frowning. He took the letter and broke the seal. By the time he had finished reading it, his mind was a whirl of thoughts. His eyes ran over the words twice more before he looked back at the messenger.
"What's your name?"
"From the use of that title, I assume that you know the contents of this letter?"
"Yes, milord. Missus Claribel Carlisle was the one who instructed me to bring you the letter myself. I'm a footman at Broadbent Park, sir."
Claribel. Glen distantly recalled her as being the widow of his second eldest uncle. He shook his head. "My father was the fourth son," he murmured. "It was never meant to come to him – or me."
Durham didn't say anything.
Glen folded the letter and stuffed it into his shirt pocket. "Madame Vallier! See that Monsieur Durham is fed and given a place to rest. He has doubtless had a tiring journey," he called as he headed for the door. He needed the fresh spring air and the solitude to think.
Hours later, Pascale Carlisle found her son brooding on the shore of the Saint Laurent, next to his father's gravestone. She touched the stone lovingly, and looked down at Glen. He was so like his father with the same stubborn chin and self-righteous tilt of his head.
"Madame Vallier says the traveller brought you news."
He turned his head to rest it against her. She was always so calm and steady, a haven from any problem he had. "Father's brothers are all dead," he told her.
Pascale stroked his hair back, frowning slightly. "As they have been for the last ten years."
"The news… My cousin – Linton – has died, as well."
She stilled, understanding dawning. "And now you are the Earl Broadbent and must go to Britain to fulfill your obligations there."
Glen clenched his eyes. He didn't want to go to England. He was happy with his life here. Damn it, the title was never meant for him! "I could stay here. I doubt anyone would care much. The Realm will survive without an Earl Broadbent present."
"Is that what you want?"
Yes. "I want to do what Father would have wanted me to do," he answered dutifully. He raised his head sadly. How long would it take? At least three or four weeks to get to England, and then another month or so to be formally titled and see that all the estates were in order. They would expect him to produce an heir, wouldn't they? Would they expect him to marry an Englishwoman? What was the point, when he was already part Huron and part French? They'd probably think him a barbarian, he though bitterly, and his mother more so.
He looked up at his mother. She knew what he was thinking; she always knew. Gently, she cupped his face in the palm of her hand. "These are your father's people; to hate them is to hate yourself."
He sighed heavily, shoulders drooping. "I will go," he told her. "But I will not stay there."
"No. We will not stay if we find it not to our liking."
"Mother, you need not –"
She pressed her fingers to his lips to quiet him. "It will be good for your sister and me to go with you. Vivian is restless here."
He took her hand and kissed it. "Vivian is restless wherever she goes."
Pascale smiled. "Perhaps the England fog will confuse her enough to still her."
Glen chuckled and rose enough to rest his head against her stomach. "Yu,now,moi,e ane,heh." I love you, Mother.
A.N. Well, here it is at last. In advance, I want to apologize for any grammar or spelling mistakes I might - and probably will - make for the French and Wyandot languages. I'm only a B student in French, and it looks as if I won't be able to get my hands on a reliable Wyandot resource until after Christmas.