The hum of leisurely conversation and the slightly sweet scent of pipe tobacco washed over them as they stepped inside the foyer. Directly in front of them was a staircase leading to the guest bedrooms. On their right was a closed door. To their left through a wide, open doorway they could see tables and chairs and a fire crackling in a field stone fireplace beyond. It was from this room that the talk and the tobacco smoke emanated.
Suddenly, there was a banging and scraping from upstairs and three men in embroidered silk coats, white wigs and tri-corner hats came scrambling down the staircase. Pushing past Eric and Kate, they pulled open the door and hurried out to the carriage. As they left, one of them called back over his shoulder. “Hurry with that baggage, boy. We have to be in Hartford by dark.”
Eric and Kate turned and saw a trunk and several other pieces of luggage with legs teetering down the stairs. “Coming good sirs!” the baggage called. Under its breath it muttered, “If you swine carried your own bags, you might get out of here all the quicker.”
“Uh, hey, need a hand?” Eric asked.
The baggage stopped in the middle of the flight of stairs and a boy’s face peeped around the edge. He looked to be about the same age as Eric and Kate. His brown hair was tied back in a small pony tail. Stray wisps trailed across his pale face.
“Oh, hello, didn’t see you there,” he said. “Yes, I would gladly accept a hand, as many as you can spare. Thank you.”
Eric and Kate both relieved the boy of part of his load. Together they carried it all out to the carriage. Two of the men had already entered and settled themselves. The other waited for them at the rear, hands on hips.
“Make haste. We are already behind schedule thanks to the muddle at breakfast!”
The boy began strapping the luggage to the rear of the carriage with large leather straps and brass buckles. Apparently he did not do it fast enough to suit the man who pushed him aside and fastened the buckles himself. After tugging on the load, he gave a nod of satisfaction and alighted into the carriage without even looking at them. He gave a shout to the driver who snapped the reins and they were off with a pounding of hooves and a cloud of dust.