The luminous moon shone along the road bringing a sense of haunting to the gypsy moor . Onward he rode booted and laced at the throat .Armed with pistols loaded and primed fearless and able. Onward bravely in the dancing shades of moon light at speed his black shining mount foamed at the withers but knew her way back home as much as her master knew it. Then in the moonlight he saw the orange red flames of his burning home and he set spur into her flanks and shot like an arrow across his fields to aid his servants with water to slow the spread of the racing power of fire.
Morning broke over the land and black the beams and so to the men as soot flickered in the air and that smell of burning in the nostrils of the workers. The day light had brought the true picture of the Barons loss of home. Nothing stood from foundation upwards save chard oak beams that even now smoulder and crackle smoking thickly in the morning dew.
Baron Graham had only the clothes he stood in and six horses saved from the ruins of his yard. His three servants sat in silence worn out with the fight to save anything of Dunbridge Manor. For it was a home to they as much as to him that great Lord of all lands over the bridge. All furnishings that could be saved lay in the grass some distance away. Then the loss of six hundred years of family items had burned to ash in the way of fire as it races so fast to destroy a man.
All that could be used was spread over the cobbled yard that once had seen the best stables in county Sussex. Horses of such hot blood brood mares that had paced over that yard over ages passed had no place here to even shelter.
Graham knew in his mind who was responsible but for now he kept it close to his chest. Harley had been butler to the Graham family since his fathers time and was seen as a member of family by that mans son now.
“Sad day my Lord but we can rebuild I dare say. ”
” We have to dear George we have to. Or we have no home at all. ”
“I can arrange for men to rebuild then sir”
‘Find Lewis he can serve us as architect .I can ask him to give me the price to build and he himself can bring in a force to build within that agreed costings. we then dear man can shift into the Bell with rooms for now. I may leave you to deal with both? ”
‘ Of course my Lord it shall be done. i will book rooms first sir If i may saddle the grey.”
‘ You managed to save harness too man. ”
“Most of it and all saddles and tow full sets of livery but rest perished sir. ”
” No more timber will be cut. Stone from my fathers half share in the quarry shall not burn if fire ill bargain. ”
‘ Costly sir. The new Cathedral is almost complete may I enquire if the master will call on you at the Bell sir?”
” Good plan and ahead of me George. Good man I can now ride back to Parliament to settle matters with someone i know. ”
So it was that Baron Grahams duel with Henry Cavell was the talk of the town. For much of that week the two men had talks and Cavell had laughed in public at Grahams loss it had led to this. The two men and seconds march ten paces off the mark. Turned and fired but neither man was hit. The gun smoke cleared and all stood still. Cavell handed the pistol back and both firearms boxed and taken to be cleaned.
” It is not over Covell you destroyed Dunbridge manor but you cant destroy me.” Shouted Graham, as his man vanished back through the trees.
Parliament sat and House of Lords read the bill carefully. it had passed the vote on the floor of Commons but Lord Cavandish and Baron Graham went against it. The rest of the Lords then voted and it was passed. Cavells face told it all he had won and nothing now could stop the steam engines racing the new lines across the South of England.
Hearing this Graham sped to see the way the rails would pass his lands. To his horror the site of his old house was down for a station link and yard for iron horses. He knew now why that fire was started. Studying the plans he saw a way to avoid the rails entirely.
He and his architect designed a new mansion in the classical style in stone. It was started in the June of 1832 and completed in the September of 1847. Graham was able to resume his life without fear but Cavell had won over him and he knew it. Graham waited for years but eventually trapped Cavell in a fraud case of shares and had him jailed. in 1856 Cavell died in his cell of some sort of lung disorder and was buried in the prison yard plot as a commoner, who was still in mid sentence.
It was late that night that the curtains in Baron Grahams bed room blew gentle and without noise until Graham a woke to see a white smoke drifting around in the candle light. He was found dead on his bed as if strangled. The doctors all agreed some sort of siezure had gripped the Baron. It was recorded as heart problems but George Harley suspected more. He left to retire as in the will of his master all staff had been carefully cared for.
Harley wrote to the new Baron Graham now able to run his fathers house what he thought had killed him. It was unwise a move as he was arrested as a lunatic soon after. The sad fact that had turned his head is that young Graham had just married Lady Joan Cavell. In his cell in Newgate Prison the dying George Harley, one time loyal servant to that said family of Graham, heard the shrill laughter in his ear of along dead adversary . His eyes slowly closed over, as he gave up his ghost in terror and remorse. It is but a nameless plot with no marker but he knew more than any Lord Graham ever did about life and death as one.
Thank you for reading my work. Yours always Sir Kevin.
Copyright Kevin Parr ,Bart.2020.