Plans gone awry on WIP Wednesday

Think ‘what could possibly go wrong’, someone suggested to me years back when I talked about developing a plot. And I’ve always been fond of the saying that when people lay plans, God laughs.

So this week’s work-in-progress Wednesday post is about plans that don’t work out or that get overrun by circumstances or that hit a brick wall. Please post your excerpt in the comments. In mine, my widow’s groom has fallen ill with a cold, just as predicted by the childhood friend who has insisted on travelling with her.

Lyons’ sneezing increased as the horses consumed the miles to Stamford. By the time they pulled into the stable yard at the Crown and Eagle, he was wheezing with each breath, and failing in his attempts to subdue paroxysms of coughing. His flushed face indicated a fever, which was probably lower than if they had not been driving into a chilly wind for the past hour.

Gil handed his horse into the care of a stable boy and came to help her down, stopping when he looked across her at Lyons. The groom leant forward and swayed, paling so alarmingly that Susan clutched at his arm and pulled him back into his seat. “Stay where you are until Lord Rutledge comes around to help you,” she commanded.

Gil was wearing his granite face again. If he hadn’t donned the expression to hide the urge to say ‘I told you so’, her instincts were completely at sea. She gave him credit for being gentleman enough not to crow. “Lyons is wretched, Rutledge. We must get him inside.”

The groom protested, but weakly, letting Gil help him to the ground, then leaning against the much taller man, his eyes shut. Gil wrapped a firm arm around him to keep him upright. “He’s burning with fever, Mrs Cunningham. Come, Lyons. Let’s get you into a bed.”

“I’ll deal with the horses,” Susan offered. “Will you ask the innkeeper to send for a doctor?” Lyons was so sunk in misery he didn’t respond. Gil supported him through another spasm of racking coughs then half carried him into the inn, and Susan turned to give her instructions to the stable hand.

She followed a servant upstairs fifteen minutes later, while another trailed behind carrying Gil’s saddle bags over his shoulder and a valise from the curricle in each hand. Lyons’ bags and her own overnight things. Susan was not fool enough to think they’d be moving on tonight. She was unsurprised when the innkeeper greeted her as Mrs Rockingham, and told her that her husband had reserved a suite upstairs and was even now with the doctor. Rockingham indeed. She could only hope Lyons recovered quickly.

She waited while the leading servant knocked at a door and then opened it to let her into a nicely appointed sitting room. A door on either side led, presumably, to bedrooms. Yes. As she crossed to the warm fire, she caught a glimpse through the open door; the corner of an iron bedstead, part of Gil’s back and one strong leg. She could hear the murmur of voices, but none of the words.

The servants put the bags in the other room. “Will there be anything else, ma’am?”

“Can your cook make a soothing tisane for my groom’s throat? And Mr Rockingham and I would appreciate a pot of tea, please. Perhaps some bread and cheese?” Gil had a prodigious appetite.

They hurried away and Susan sat to await the doctor’s verdict and to fret about her daughter, another day’s hard travel away in Doncaster.

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One thought on “Plans gone awry on WIP Wednesday

  1. This one, Barbara Gaskill Denvill posted in a comment on my FaceBook post of this blog item. It’s from BANNISTER’S MUSTER – BOOK 1 – SNAP – for children 8 – 13. I’m intrigued! Whatever will happen next?

    It was the laughter that woke him. With a jolt, Nathan sat up in bed, and stared into the darkness. “What was that? Who’s there?” he said loudly, startled.

    At first there was no answer. Half befuddled with sleep, Nathan almost lay back down, thinking the laughter must simply have been part of his dream. But just as he was ready to go back to sleep, someone said, “Well, Bumble-BeeHead. Are you ready for an adventure? Or not?”

    Nathan blinked, hiccupped, and sat straighter. Rising up from the corners of his bedroom the huge balloon rocked, its striped colours as bright as the sunshine, even though now it was past midnight. It seemed to burst through the ceiling, huge and beautiful, bigger than his room and yet completely visible, bobbing on its moorings.

    Below the balloon in a neat wicker basket rather like a shopping bag but much larger, was a thin man, his knees poking up to his chin as he sat squashed into the limited space. He wore black and a top hat as tall as his shadow.

    His laughter was like water gurgling down the plug hole, and it seemed to be Nathan he was laughing at.

    “This,” said Nathan to himself, “is a very stupid dream.”

    “This,” answered the laughing man, “is no dream at all, my young friend. So climb in with me, and I’ll show you just how stupid it is. Or perhaps how stupid it isn’t.” He nodded and the top hat tilted. “Unless, of course,” he added, “you’re too frightened to risk an adventure you’ll never forget.”

    Nathan rubbed his eyes and said, “You’re a mad man.”

    “Just a mad wizard.”

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