Lorrie dismounted her mare just out of sight of the stables, and walked Starlight the rest of the way. She kept a steady hand on the reins as Broogs came running.
Even though she was prepared for Broogs' onslaught, it was still difficult to keep her horse calm.
"Lady Lorraine, how lovely to see you, m'lady. How has miss Starlight been behaving herself? Will she be needing a new pair of shoes, soon?"
Lorrie grinned in greeting. She liked Broogs, though it was impossible to get him to slow down, even in his speech.
Broogs was John's blacksmith as well as stableman, and he often went to other estates to shoe the horses. Lorrie guessed that he was rather fond of her upstairs maid Wanda. He visited Maycourt Hall as often as he could find an excuse to go, and Wanda always found an excuse to go to the stables when he was there.
She took the hide bound packet from her saddlebag, and allowed Broogs to lead Starlight away. She ascended the impressive carved stone steps to the front door, and lightly tapped the lion's head knocker. She could hear the echos in the foyer.
No one answered her knock, so she walked inside and called.
"Helloooo .... hello.... is anyone home....?"
Her voice echoed off the marble floor and dark panelling. The sound seemed to be coming from dozens of John's dead ancestors, whose portraits were hanging on the panelled walls.
When there was no answer, she sang several bars of one of the popular songs of the day. Mrs. Fetwick came down the stairs with a deep frown on her face.
"Stop that right now, Miss Lorraine! I'm sure that noise is enough to wake the dead!"
"Why, did Sir Reginald die in the night, and did I wake him up, ?" She replied with a mischievous grin.
Although Mrs Fetwick tried to maintain her stern expression, a tiny hint of a smile winked on and off from the corner of her mouth.
John appeared from an archway off of the foyer, just as Jasper appeared from another door.
"Are you ever going to actually finish a song when you come in, Lorrie?"
"Well, I suppose that depends on how long it takes some one to show up." She laughed.
John couldn't understand why Jasper was always right there regardless of when he arrived, or at what entrance. He never came to the front door for Lorrie until she had sung her little serenade.
"May I take your cloak, m'lady?" Jasper asked.
"Of course, as long as you give it back."
She grinned, taking off her riding cloak and bonnet.
"Yes of course, Miss Lorraine." Jasper said, with a mere sniff of disapproval.
"How does that man survive without any sense of humour whatsoever, I wonder?"
" I don't know, but he seems to be doing alright. Do you have a letter for father?"
"Yes, it's right here. papa expects an answer, so I'll wait down here at the piano, if I may?"
"Please do. You appear to be doing well with your lessons."
"I think so, yes. I stopped thinking of practise as a chore, and started thinking of it as making music, and now I really enjoy it."
"That's important, to enjoy what you're doing. I don't think you'll need an escort to the music room, so I'll be down with an answer as soon as I can."
He remarked sourly, knowing how hard it was to get the old man to do anything he asked.
Lorrie went in to the music room, which was just two mid sized rooms away from the foyer. She sat down at the piano, and leafed through the sheet music.
Lorrie was only a year and a half younger than John, and she had grown up on the neighbouring estate of Maycourt Hall.
She cared deeply for John. As children, they had climbed trees together, and waded muddy creeks together, and rode their horses like the wind together. She never thought of him as more than a best friend, or perhaps a brother.
She was going to be eighteen soon, and her father wanted to give her a débutante ball. She tried everything to talk him out of it, but he wouldn't budge.
Playing the piano helped her think. She had to find a way to avoid having a ball of her own. She thought it was silly to have a party just to capture a husband. She hated the idea of being paraded around like a prize mare, in order to find a suitable stud.
She played the piano while she waited for Sir Reginald's answer. She had been her father's message carrier almost as long as she'd been able to sit a horse.
She hated the side saddle she was forced to use in public. When no one was around, she took it off, stored it under a tree and rode starlight with just a blanket on her back. Lorrie had sewn a split in her skirts so that she could ride the way men did.
There was something going on with John lately, he'd been sort of moody. Anyway, she couldn't do anything about that, so she waited for the return letter, and played the piano.