To the west, across the harbor below, the land rose up again, running out to a point a little higher than the one on which his house was set. The pair of headlands formed two arms embracing the Molethe medieval stone pier that jutted out across the shingle to the tidelinecreating a haven for shipping along England's south coast in an age when sailing ships made Hampton Regis rich. There had once been a watchtower on the far headland, built to keep an eye on Napoleon. Only ruins stood there now, overgrown at the base, a few feet of stone still reaching upward like pleading fingers.
Two days ago he'd seen a vixen and her kits romping there, and he'd been touched by their exuberance, wondering how any man could hunt them down. Farmers were often a backward lot, though it was an unkind thing to say. But foxes kept vermin down, and like the old owl in the belfry at the church, deserved a better character than they'd been given.
The kettle whistled behind him, startling him, and he moved quickly to lift it off the plate. He enjoyed these few minutes alone, before the maid arrived, before the house was a-bustle. He also enjoyed spoiling his wife, doing such small things for her pleasure. A far cry from his long years of exile in other countries, alone and often distrusted, the voice of London when often London had left him to his own devices. It was over, and he called himself happy.
The foregoing is excerpted from A False Mirror by Charles Todd. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
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