This story got lost in the shuffle! So, here is the latest chapter. If you’ve forgotten the story, check here!
The carriage pulled into the gate which gleamed of new cut wood and fresh oil. Raven looked at the area he last saw upside down and on horseback. The fire damaged trees had been cut down and stumps were being pulled by men who waved to see their lord back home.
“The trees being gone open this area up. Could we put in a bit of a garden instead of more trees?” asked Rachel.
“Perhaps. I need to see what happened to the rest of the estate before I start planning though,” answered Raven. He noticed the new barn being built and new rails in the corrals. What he didn’t see were horses. “Where are the horses?”
“I believe they put them out in the far pastures because of the smell of burnt wood M’lord said the driver.
“I hope so.”
A moment later, the carriage pulled in front of the main door. Raven stood slowly and looked around from the height afforded him by the carriage. He saw new glazing in various windows where scorch and smoke marked the window sills. He winced at the damage done to various garden beds and then took in the great door. While not new, it had been re-stained a darker brown to help mask the chop marks and indentations made by various objects. The hinges were new as well.
He got down and then turned to help Rachel. “I hope the work inside is done.”
“Just take a deep breath. There is damage, but at least it isn’t a burnt out shell like Justin’s,” said Rachel.
Raven nodded. Walking up to the door, the smell of stain and linseed oil hit his nose. The door swung open easily on the new hinges and they walked into the main hall. Once again, Raven was struck by the amount of cleaning that had gone on. Vinegar, paint, oils of various kinds and the subtle smell of smoke were everywhere. Paintings and tapestries were either gone or leaning up against the walls. Furniture was stacked in odd places and it was apparent that they had arrived home before everything had been completed.
“Rachel, just how badly damaged was the main house? This doesn’t add up to what I pictured.”
“Raven, you need to understand that we had to clean everything. That meant moving everything. They’ve been emptying one room, repairing and cleaning it and then putting all the furnishings that belong there to one side. Then the next room would be emptied and cleaned. The contents of that room which survived were moved to the cleaned room. That’s why it is such a mess,” said Rachel. She felt sorry for Raven, as she realized that all he thought of as ‘home’ had gone forever and was now a puzzle of pieces.
“I should be grateful that I have anything,” he said looking around. “Are there any rooms that are complete?”
“I don’t know. I’ve been with you most of the time. Maggie would know, but I’m not sure if she’s arrived yet, or if she’s been updated. The wedding did take a bit of time,” said Rachel.
“Agreed.” Raven continued to walk down the hall and then spied Morrin. “Morrin!”
Morrin turned when he heard Raven’s voice. “Ah, it is so good to see you M’lord. Forgive me for not coming to your wedding, but I had to stay and work on the estate,” he said. “Hello M’lady”
“Hello Morrin. We were wondering what work was done and what was still to be done,” said Rachel.
“Well, servants rooms upstairs were hardly touched. They were done first. The fire ran up the stairwell M’lord. We had to replace timbers in it and that had to be done before we could… M’lord, I think you need to sit,” said Morrin interrupting himself as he realized that Raven was swaying. He helped Rachel clear a chair and then helped Raven sit. Rachel sent a maid for a glass of water.
“Thank you. I never know when my strength will go,” said Raven.
“S’right M’lord. There’s been plenty done. Lots of it in odd pieces. One crew has been cleaning and clearing, while another repairs. We used the back stairs aplenty when fixing the front stairs. The stairs being done, we got on the big rooms upstairs.”
“What damage was done on the first floor?” Raven asked.
“Your room was torched. Bastards did that first. Nothing left but scorch and soot. M’lady’s room was a bit scorched, but alright. We’ll put you in there tonight. No bed in the other one. Barely a floor. Tower room is fine and so are most of the other rooms. Just smoke and a bit of trashing as they tore through things,” said Morrin.
Rachel took the glass of water from the maid and gave it to Raven. “Drink.”
Raven didn’t fight. He knew he nearly passed out. He drank half. “What about the ground floor? This area looks torn up. What about the library, my study and the kitchens?”
Morrin took a deep breath. “Well, these rooms took a beating. Plenty of fighting. Small fires, but nothing bad. The library, which is under the Master bedroom took some damage from timbers falling. We saved as many books as we could. Your study took some damage as well. They were just destroying things for the pleasure of it.”
“What about the main hall? The kitchen?” asked Raven. He had vague memories of Rachel not saying much about those areas.
“Main hall lost the wainscoting, a few tapestries and chairs. Oh, and glass. Plenty of that just blew out. Kitchen,… well M’lord, Maggie ain’t happy.” Morrin stared at his feet.
“Oh. Oh, all those cooking fires, and flammables,” Raven said as he thought of it. There had been a small fire once when he was a child and he remembered how it ate the pantry.
“Aye M’lord. Bastards heaped everything in a pile in one corner and poured oil on it. They thought it would catch the whole manor on fire. Good thing all those years ago we built it more of stone than wood. Maggie took losing her tools, knives, ladles, and her table the worst,” said Morrin.
Raven tried to think of it all and just shook his head. “I take it she’s ordered or bought replacements?”
“For some. I finished her table last night. Just her height. Leather loops where she wants em, and a’course a new knife box. It’ll take a while to season, but she’ll break it in soon enough.”
Raven finished the water and stood. “Show me the manor Morrin.” His voice was heavy. Rachel walked next to him as Morrin led. When they got to the library, Raven took a touch inventory as he ran his hands across his remaining books. Chairs or desks didn’t matter, but the books did. They’d been his parents and grandparents. In the study, he saw the charred remains of his desk out in the hall.
“Morrin, why haven’t you tossed this?” he asked. One whole side was black, and two legs nearly cinders.
“I figured if you didn’t mind, I could replace the back and legs. Not too difficult. The top is good as are the drawers. They’ll just be a wee bit shorter,” said Morrin pointing to various sections of the desk.
“Oh, that would be wonderful,” said Rachel. Raven nodded in agreement. The rest of the room looked bare without the book case on one side and the tapestries covering the stone walls. Then they walked towards the kitchen. The walls were still scorched and the smell of smoke was heavier. Women were wiping down the walls trying to remove as much of the soot and smoke damage as possible. Two doors had been replaced and then they stepped into the main part of the kitchen.
“I… I can see why Maggie was so fierce up at Lord Hawkness’,” said Raven as he walked into the kitchen. Two young lads were whitewashing the plaster walls. Morrin’s second in command along with someone Raven didn’t know were replacing the timber lintel on the main fireplace. New wood was everywhere. “There’s nothing left.”
“No, there isn’t Raven. She lost more than just a few books or tools. Everything burnt,” said Rachel as she held Raven’s arm.
“All the herbs, simples, spices and even the candle molds are gone,” said Morrin. “We took the metal we found and I’ve been working with it at the forge to make new meat hooks, fire cranes, tripods and meat spits. Been making hinges and door latches too.”
“You’ve been very busy,” said Raven.
Rachel looked around and realized that everyone was stopping to come and greet Raven.
“Good to see you Sir.”
“Thank heavens you survived.”
“Maggie’ll be happy to cook in this kitchen once we’re done.”
“We’ll have bread tomorrow!”
“We have the kitchen outside, Sir!”
Rachel kept her hand on Raven. “We should let people get back to work,” she said softly.
Raven nodded. “Thank all of you for the work to put things back to right.”
People nodded, and then after a few handshakes, or pats on the back, they got back to work. Morrin led Raven and Rachel out the kitchen yard door and towards the out buildings.
“Garden here is okay. Front one is a wreck. Too much debris fell into it. It might come back. Hay fields are fine and the stock is slowly building,” he said.
“How much livestock did we lose?” asked Raven.
“Three horses, one a plow, fifteen pigs, can’t count the chickens or geese and I think five goats. The rest are out in the far pastures or down in the outbuildings that didn’t burn,” said Morrin.
“And Rascal? Did he get killed in the fight at the gate?” asked Raven.
“No. Had a few cuts and slash marks, but he’s right as rain. Over in the pasture making sure he marks every mare as his. Come next spring we will have an explosion of foals if things go as I expect,” said Morrin.
That made Raven smile.