An envisioning . . . .1895… Penbarrow House, Northumberland . . . ..The scent of burning leaves as fall begins its slide into winter and the face of one’s future husband conjured up in the smoken trail as it ascends from the bonfires on the drive . . .

Oh to go back and be here.

Penbarrow House, Northumberland. Mid-October, 1895, and the rest of the afternoon to while away.

Smoke rising on the far edge of the garden. The leaves fallen and heaping up in mounds headed for the bonfire makers on the drive. If only. The gardeners having allowed jumps in and out and  turns with the rakes when nanny wasn’t looking.

But not for young ladies. Starter corsets that make it hard to run and stockings from the expensive store in London where Mother gets her things. Too much trouble if the leaves and dirt weave into the wool.

Grandmama’s Bounce and Maude to take for a run. Must have named them, too. Bounce for a poet’s dog and Maude for another. Father reading nothing but the racing form and Mother never. But the names kept.

The dogs running and someone calling. Another week and back to Saint Elfrieda’s with the headmistress that checks that everyone is asleep by nine.

But sunset to come, tea before the grownups’ dinner begins and friends yet to arrive for a game of croquet with their brothers in tow to knock the balls toward so they will have to be returned.

A mad dance around the fires on the drive for good luck. From the olden times, the old woman by the caves says. The face of one’s future husband to be read in the swirls of ascending smoke if one can only dare to peek.

Image: Princess Beatrice of Edinburgh Saxe-Coburg in 1895. A granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Image via

Princess Beatrice of Edinburgh Saxe-Coburg. 1895.
Princess Beatrice of Edinburgh Saxe-Coburg. 1895. via

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