F or as long as Caleb Carson could remember, his elder brother had been close at hand. They were orphans, living with strangers, sharing a bedchamber, and spending most of their free time together. Then on Caleb's nineteenth birthday, Uriah announced the two of them would begin life anew in a small village in the north. Caleb was delighted. But when Uriah returned to his position in London, the hours of their first separation seemed endless. At last, the day of his return had arrived and Caleb went to the small village, tended his marketing and waited by the cobbler shop. By sunset, the brothers were reunited and rode side-by-side back to the Twyman place - the first real home Caleb could remember.
"I have been away nearly a fortnight and you have nothing to report, save your lack of employment?" Uriah asked, allowing his horse a leisurely gait.
Seated on his dapple-gray, Caleb grinned, "Shall I tell you of Sweet Katie?"
"She has red hair and the greenest eyes I have yet to see."
"You fancy her then?"
"Fancy her? She's fifty if she's a day, but were she younger, I would fancy her greatly. She claims a right acquaintance with Bonny Prince Charlie."
Uriah chuckled. "Does she now?"
"That she does. Today, the Redcoats got it from someone, who got it from someone else, that the Prince had been spotted in the south of Scotland. The Redcoats left MacDougal's Inn with great haste and soon after, all the people on the avenue stopped to wait. They waited, you see, for Sweet Katie to come to the door."
"And did she?"
"She did indeed. She lifted her apron, wiped her brow and began her exhortation. She called the Redcoats poor tiresome sops that are quite without the wits to find their own mothers. Everyone laughed, naturally. Then she leaned forward and the crowd leaned forward as well. It was then she declared they would never find Bonnie Prince Charlie, for he lay well hidden under her very own bed."
Uriah looked amused, "Poor tiresome sops, is right. Everyone knows the Prince has been in France these fourteen years."
"They know but with thirty thousand pounds on his head, they dare not take the chance. Even I was tempted to give chase."
Uriah turned his horse up the lane. "Have you any other news?"
Caleb pondered the question, "Well, I have made the acquaintance of the baker. His wife's ankles are far more swollen than they should be, and she needs the assistance of two men to board a wagon. While the Baker bakes, his dog repeatedly attempts to enter the butcher shop. The whole village is aware of it however, and the dog is rarely successful. And today, I nearly was witness to swords."
"Two men could not agree on the price of a saddle, you see. So both drew their swords, but Mister Findley stopped them."
As they neared the cluster of trees behind the small, thatched-roofed cottage, Uriah grinned mischievously, "And Mister Findley's eldest daughter?"
Caleb instantly scowled, "As I reported in my post, I can hardly be shed of her. She is everywhere."
"You do not fancy her?"
"Does a cow fancy a mule? She stands on the street prepared to wave until I feel forced to look her direction just to put her out of her misery." He dismounted and waited for his brother to climb down. He tied the reins of both horses to a tree, untied the bag of food from his saddle, and flung it over his shoulder.
Uriah unlatched the back door of the vine-covered house. He quickly walked through the kitchen, dismissing the clutter of unwashed dishes. In the sitting room, books and newspapers were everywhere. The walls remained undecorated and blankets had been thrown haphazardly over the used furniture. Still, when he entered his bedchamber, he found the room tidy, just as he left it. Pouring water into