Treehouse, the prompt from KL Caley for #writephoto, brought me inspiration today, I’m very pleased to say. And my hands felt well enough to type, even after a busy craft fair at Salisbury on Saturday. The steroid injection in my shoulder on Friday maybe part of it, but I’m noticing a lot of differences in how I feel depending on the weather as autumn progresses. Today was clear and sunny, mostly. And the story, which links with the Chandelier and Chess stately-home-come-film-set stories in March or thereabouts, is just about 850 words.
She rose from her resting place and peered out into the glimmer of early dawn. The deer were out, grazing, or had been. Yes, they had heard something. They were pointing west, towards the edge of the estate. They pawed the ground nervously, but dropped their heads down for a last bit of grass before retreating to the cover of the forest.
She climbed the uneven wooden steps to the far-seeing window in the turret. She could hear a low growling noise now, one that had become familiar over the last few months. Adjusting the window for the low light conditions, she turned its attention to the grandiose pillar of the main gate. Yes, the gates were open, and a cavalcade of the huge boxes on wheels, that she classed as ‘wagons’ was slowly rolling through.
This was the third time such an event had happened in the last year. Her premonitions were all bad. People would disturb her, perhaps even damage her house. Not so far. So far they had kept to the hall and its immediate grounds.
Swinging the window around, she saw that the deer had made their decision, and were in retreat, although steadily, leaving little to show their delicate limbs had passed through the grass.
A fox barked three times. He was on edge too. There was no reason for any of the newcomers to go near his earth, but maybe he was right to be cautious. Maybe she should be cautious. Just because nobody had come near her house, nestled up against the furthest fence of the estate, safe in the woods, protected by every protection she could give it… No, she should not trust that people would continue to stay away, simply because they had before.
It was after noon when she heard voices coming through the woodland. Two sets of voices, both male. She considered her options and decided on a low level spell she could keep up for hours.
“Well, the map of the estate indicates some sort of structure down here, which might be suitable for the externals of the lovers tryst. The other option is the folly on the knoll nearer the house, which is a bit obvious for a secret meeting.” That was a voice she had heard at the hall on several occasions now.
“Oh, it wouldn’t be so obvious in the film. And it’s closer to everything else.” This was his most recent visitor.
“True. Oh, look, I think that might be it.”
Two men came into view, stopping about fifty yards off while one took pictures of the house and its surroundings. From her point of view they dressed in an outlandish costume. From their point of view it was probably workaday stylish upper class. They had better not see her or they would jump to some sort of conclusion about her status from her dress. She settled herself in the first floor living room and waited.
“Do you think it’s safe?”
The voice came from the ground beneath her.
“We’d have to get chippy to make something in keeping but stronger if we’re going to let those two climb up and down it.”
“I always thought film stars had to watch their weight?”
“You can do marvels in the cutting room these days. And they can’t command the fees these days, even though the names still draw people in.”
“It’s quite charming, though, isnt it? Maybe I should make more of a feature of it?”
“No, leave it as it is. It’s hard to get the genuine distressed look, and this looks like it would fit in as something contemporary with Robin Hood.”
“There’s an idea…”
By now the voices were on the veranda. She heard the door open, and then they were inside with her. She shrank against the wall.
“Not much light. Easy enough to knock up a set for internal scenes though.”
“Do you want to go up to the turret?”
She watched as the first speaker peered up her stairs to the next level. Then he walked past her to look out of the window onto the deer park.
“I’m in two minds,” he said. “It’s got a derelict charm about it, but it’s a bit of a trek from the house.”
She put a little more effort into her influencing charm.
“I agree. And all we need is a couple of days rain and it’ll be a nightmare to get even tracked gear through. I think you’d be better off to go for the folly.”
She held her charms together until the pair had left, then let them out with a deep sigh. She went up to the far-seeing window and watched for a while, then began weaving a strategy to keep prying eyes away permanently, and for her treehouse to stay out of people’s minds.
Two days later her weaving was finished, and she hung it out of the window.
Now she was safe for at least another ten years.
© J M Pett 2023