Picture Property of Elizabeth Harper
Lady Meredith crept along the darkened hallway, touching the wall to guide her to the top of the stairs. When she reached the stairs, she paused and listened to see if she could hear their voices, her mother-in-law, Lady Aileen and her husband Lord Bradford Buchanan. Cautiously she started down the steps. When she reached the curve of the rail, she stopped again, knowing that she was now half way down. A shiver ran down her spine, turning, she looked back up the stairs. She knew she wouldn't see anyone or anything, or at least she hoped she wouldn't. She almost signed with relief but at the last minute caught her breath, realizing the acoustics were so, that it would be heard. She hated the castle at night.
The castle had been built with windows everywhere, the sun filled the hallways with sunshine and light. She loved the East side of the castle where she could look out and see Jamison, the gardener, working among the flower beds and lawn. He was the best gardener around, it was as though he personally nurtured each flower, in turn they grew to amazing size and bloomed huge beautiful blooms.
Lady Meredith finished descending the steps and continued on down the hallway to the great room where she knew they were. She hoped they had left the door open so she could hear what they were saying. She was on the West side of the castle, but when she passed the large bay window, she didn't look out, she knew there was a full moon and she would see the tombstone of her dead father-in-law, Lord Bryon Buchanan. Why would anyone bury someone so close to their home? That's why during the daytime, she stayed on the East side, so she wouldn't look out the window and see the ornate stone used to signify that he had died and lay underneath. She sometimes wondered if it was her mother-in-laws way of keeping him here or at least his memory. After all, he was the "love of her life", or so Lady Aileen claimed. One really never knew when she was being sarcastic or serious. Lady Aileen had a dry sense of humor. Bishop Thomas said, "Her sense of humor is so dry, that he sometimes thinks it shriveled up and blew away".
The great room door was open, she peeked through the crack to see if she could see where they were. As usual, her mother-in-law sat as close as possible to the fire in her special Queen Anne chair and Bradford sat on the sateen with his feet on the ottoman smoking his pipe. His body scooted down on his spine, his head laying back, looking up, pondering, she never knew what he was thinking about.
Suddenly, Bradford turned to his mother, "You think the gift will arrive in time? I received a post yesterday saying it was on it's way and should be here by Saturday."
Lady Aileen responded, "Three days should be plenty of time for it to arrive. I think Meredith will be pleased."
"You think she suspects we're planning a surprise party for her?"
"Yes", replied Lady Aileen, "I think she suspects, but isn't for sure what the plans are. I don't know why you have to be so secretive. She's not a child and you know how she hates surprises."
"I know, but she's wanted this for so long. I want to put one over on her like she did me at our last anniversary." He tapped out his pipe and rose, "The little minx deserves a surprise and not knowing what's being planned. She deserves being in the dark."
Meredith, hurried back down the hallway and rushed up the stairs to their bedroom. Once inside, she rushed to the bed and jumped in, pulling the covers over her head, she let out a loud giggle. If Bradford could see her face, it would be flushed with excitement. She lay there wondering what "the gift" was. Then she thought about the anniversary present she had given him. As a young boy, he had wanted a pair of red leather boots. He didn't care that they weren't appropriate, he had seen a pair in a shoe shop and thought them beautiful. So that's what she had bought him, as he opened the box it was all she could do to contain her laughter. When he opened the shoe box, he started laughing and she joined in. He understood that she had given them to him because she loved him and wanted to give him everything he wished for, no matter what. That was the point, not the red boots, but that he had wanted something and hadn't been able to have it until she gave it to him. As she drifted off to sleep, she heard him come in and again she wondered what the gift would be. It would be just like him to buy her the gold carriage she always wanted.
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