The land between the guesthouse and the front gate, although it crossed a fair ten metres of light woodland, was far flatter than the land between the servants’ quarters at the back of the estate and the front door of the main house. Nevertheless, Christophe and Alexandra kept their arms linked tightly, keeping each other from falling again.
As soon as the servants reached the front gate, it was clear that at least one guest had arrived well before the designated time.
Joshua Newton was a well-physiqued young man in his twenties, of marrying age yet without a wife or some distinct lady in his life. He was a good-looking worker of the wool-trade, low down in his business, yet a worker with a great potential inside him. His dark hazel eyes twinkled in the light with vain mischief, and his unusually long chestnut hair was doing what it often did: being blown along in the flowing wind. If there had been any smarter men of society in the proximity of Mr. Newton on this occasion, they would have scowled at the uncut shape of his hair as it was. Every inch of Mr. Newton emitted a saying, an implication that he was actually a warrior in his personal life; and it was that which aggravated the other businessmen when he put on the airs of one who always thought he could do, and be, the best.
“I say, man, can a chap get some entry here?”
A natural country-born lad, Joshua’s accent was identical to the majority of the scullions’, but tinged with the business-class accent of central London. The boy had, unusually, spent only a little time in business, jumping in at the late age of eighteen, after helping his late father out on his farm for a while. It could not have been there that Joshua had picked up the contacts he claimed to have had as a way into success, but it was known that the man had been a boy home-grown.
As she opened the gate, Alexandra closely observed the young man who stepped through. He was little known to the family; he was an acquaintance of the daughter, but Alexandra wondered whether the two young people actually knew anything on each other. It was a staff worry alone, as Alexandra doubted that the parents knew much of the girl’s activities, that Daphne often mixed with the wrong crowd, without knowing what she was getting herself into.
“Sir,” Christophe announced. “If you could make your way to the guesthouse, Mr. Winters and his family will be down at the quarter past.”
“Will you show me the way, for God’s sake, man?”
Mr. Newton removed a silver cigarette container from his coat pocket.
“I gather Miss Winters’ father won’t mind me smoking on his land.” It was more of a statement than anything, and Alexandra suspected that the result would be the same, even if Christophe gave a negative.
“Of course. Whatever your good Sir wants,” Christophe reluctantly complied. He often had a forced formality with guests. To Alexandra, the butler said, “Stay with the gate. No doubt there will be more.”