Echoes From The Past – Episode 19


The hospital where Aunt Bea was recovering from her operation intimated to Holly that she would be allowed home very soon. So while she still had the freedom, Holly arranged to visit Dunskillen Castle and speak to Anne Hepburn about the proposed commission.

Once she left the environs of Stirling, the drive out to Dunskillen was pretty and rural, and as she looked out for the castle, she reflected that this would be a lovely drive to and from work. The castle was actually down a slope, so that there were no turrets obvious from the road, but as she turned down the driveway, Dunskillen appeared in all its charm.

“How lovely!” she found herself exclaiming out loud, smiling with pleasure.

Halfway down the slight incline, she passed various outbuildings, from one of which a man appeared, closing the door behind him. He was a year or two older than she was, and was wearing the T-shirt, gilet and jeans of the regular countryman. As he raised a hand in greeting, she slowed down and opened the window.

“Park over there, alongside the Land-Rover,” he said. “I’ll catch you up.”

She nodded, and closed the window back up again, bemused that someone like him would even know she was coming. While ornamental stitchwork was not necessarily the prerogative of women, it was unusual for a man of his age and appearance to be interested in wall hangings.

However, she did as he suggested, and once she had parked the van and gathered her bits and pieces together, he had indeed caught up with her.

He held open her door while she got out.

“Welcome to Dunskillen,” he said. “I’m Daniel Hepburn. Would you like to see the marquee area first, or would you prefer to discuss the kitchen arrangements with my mother?”

Holly frowned.

“Marquee?”

Dan paused.

“I assume you are the wedding planner for June next year?”

Holly gave a half smile.

“I’m afraid not. I’m Holly Seagrave. Mrs Anne Hepburn contacted me about a wall hanging. Have I got the date wrong?”

“Ah.” Dan nodded. “No, you’re probably right. We have a wedding planner coming as well, but I think she’s due a bit later. Come with me and I’ll introduce you to my mother.”

He set off at a fair pace, and Holly followed, clutching her portfolio and her bag. For once remembering not to go automatically to the kitchen door, Daniel conducted Holly to the front of the castle, through a handsome wooden door that looked old enough to have seen service in the Jacobite rebellion, but probably wasn’t. Answering her son’s call, Anne Hepburn appeared from the kitchen and bustled forward to greet the visitor.

“Anne Hepburn,” she said, holding out her hand.

“Holly Seagrave,” Holly replied, smiling at the older woman.

“Lovely to meet you. Would you like a cup of tea? We’re just about to have one. Put the kettle on, Dan, would you, please?”

Dan touched his forelock and looked sideways at Holly.

“I know my place.”

She smiled again, and nodded.

Anne reached out her hand to indicate the space on the wall which she felt would be improved by some sort of hanging.

“This is the space I mentioned. You see what I mean? It just looks bare. We’ve had the odd painting there, but nothing looks right. What do you think yourself?”

Holly considered the space, looked round the hall, noticed the family portraits, and looked thoughtful.

“I see what you mean,” she said. “You might like something to unify everything, something to represent the castle and its history. That would include some of the families, maybe. Do you know much of the castle’s past?”

 

lucycrichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 150 years of 'Friend' fiction!