Printed from WriteWords -

Phoenix Cottage - Chapter 3

by  poemsgalore

Posted: Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Word Count: 1550
Summary: Don't know if there are any typos or other mistakes, if so I apologise now.

Chapter 3

Cadogan Hall

Leonard sat on a fence near the chapel watching the workmen taking measurements. In the distance he could see Cadogan Hall. Behind him the thatched roof of Phoenix Cottage flowed in the setting sun. One of the men sauntered over, it was Mr Porter. Lenny was surprised to see him.

"Hello Leonard, what are you doing here?"

"Hello Mr Porter. Amy told me they were going to do the chapel up."

"That's right" Mr Porter turned to survey the ruined chapel. "When we break through the rubble in there, we will be the first people to enter it since 1647."

"What do you expect to find in there?"

"Well these lands used to belong to a Royalist family." Mr Porter sat next to Lenny on the fence. "They may have hidden documents, jewels, that kind of thing."

"Why would they need to hide them?"

"From the Roundheads of course." Lenny thought for a minute or two.

"Any skeletons?" Mr Porter laughed.

"There is a crypt and depending on how damp it is, there could be skeletons." Mr Porter eased himself down from the fence and rubbed his back.

"Why are you working this late?" Lenny jumped down beside him.

"All the work is being done by volunteers to save money. Most of us have to work during the day, so we do this evenings and weekends."

"So it's going to take a long time then."

"Yes, but we should have broken through the rubble by next Saturday, the renovation itself will probably take about a year - maybe longer." Lenny could see Amy heading towards them and looked at his watch.

"Is that really the time? Sorry Mr Porter, I've got to go in now."

"Come on Lenny mum wants you" Amy called as she approached them.

"Coming Amy, goodbye Mr Porter."

"Goodbye and don't forget about this Saturday will you Amy?"

"We'll be there Mr Porter, goodbye."

Cadogan Hall was not only the oldest house in the village, it was also the largest. Amy and Leonard arrived a little early and Mr Porter was in his study talking to someone. The housekeeper showed them into the drawing room. Amy immediately noticed the paintings in the room. There was a painting of the Hall and another of the chapel, the rest were portraits: an old man, a young girl, a small boy and two young men.

"I wonder who they are?" Amy thought out loud.

"You mean who they were" Amy hadn't heard Mr Porter come in. " I have just been discussing these paintings" he walked over to where she was standing. "They need a good clean so the art restorer is collecting them in a few days time."

"So who were they?"

"The old chap was Sir Richard Cadogan. His father Sir Thomas had this house built. It was completed in 1592."

"When was the chapel built?" Amy asked.

"That was built in 1075. The Cadogan family were given these lands by William the Conqueror."

"Then why wasn't the hall built until 16th century?" Mr Porter wasn't used to such an appreciative audience and enjoyed answering Amy's questions.

"The family used to live in Cadogan House, which was where Phoenix Cottage now stands."

"But we thought the original house was called Phoenix Cottage too" Lenny piped in.

"Oh no, as they used as much of the original house that survived the fire they considered it appropriate to rename it Phoenix Cottage. You know the legend of the bird rising from the ashes?" They both nodded.

"Was it the Cadogan family who rebuilt it?" Lenny didn't usually find history interesting but this was their own house they were talking about and he was fascinated. Mr Porter looked at the portraits and quietly said:

"Most of the family were killed in the fire, it was common knowledge they were murdered by the Roundheads" he looked slightly embarrassed "one of my ancestors as it happens - although I'm not proud of him, a pretty nasty chap by all accounts. Anyway, Cromwell rewarded him by giving him the Cadogan lands and property."

"Then why is this place still called Cadogan Hall?" Amy was curious. Mr Porter smiled wryly.

"There were Cadogan's surviving, another branch of the family who lived in Yorkshire. Captain Porter decided that keeping the old name was a way of rubbing salt in the wound so to speak. Impress on the rest of the family what they had lost."

"He really was a nasty piece of work wasn't he" Amy kicked Lenny on the shin to shut him up, but Mr Porter didn't seem to mind admitting that his ancestor was an embarrassment to him.

"What about the others?" She asked. Mr Porter moved on to the portraits of the boy and girl.

"This is Abigail and Clement Cadogan, Sir Richard was their uncle and they were staying with him when the Roundheads struck. They had two younger brothers in Yorkshire, the surviving Cadogans I mentioned."

"So they were killed too" Amy looked sadly at the portraits, the girl looked about her age and her brother could have been as old as Lenny. Mr Porter nodded and turned to the third picture.

"Benjamin Cadogan, Sir Richard's younger son, he was only twenty when he was killed." Lenny had already moved to the next painting. Cold evil eyes stared down at him, the mouth sneered cruelly. A furious red claw-like scar on each cheek added to the bitterness in the expression on the face they now looked at.

"He doesn't look at all nice" Amy stated.

"This is the real villain of the piece" Mr Porter joined them.

"How did he get those scars?" Lenny asked.

"It's said that a cat attacked him. Those scars were supposed to have made him bitter, but I suspect he was already a very nasty young man."

"What happened to him, did he die in the fire too?" The evil face fascinated Amy.

"No! Rumour has it that he knew beforehand of the Roundhead's attack and escaped to France before the fire, leaving his family to die." Amy shivered involuntarily and turned away from the paintings.

"Now for the real reason for your visit" Mr Porter announced, "follow me."

They followed him out into the hall and up the broad sweeping staircase. He led them to a small rook at the back of the house which contained shelves full of boxes. Two large travelling trunks stood in one corner; Mr Porter opened one of them.

"Take a look in here Amy" she knelt down beside the trunk and could see it was full of neatly folded clothes. The top article was a tweed suit with 'plus fours'. Underneath was a silk gown. She put them carefully over the lid of the trunk.

"Are they very old?" She asked.

"These are about sixty years old, they belonged to my parents. Amy lifted a small blue velvet suit.

"Lenny you'd look good in this." She laughed "grow your hair long and you'd look just like 'Little Lord Fauntelroy." Lenny pulled a face at her "surely this is older than the others." She turned to Mr Porter holding the suit. He shook his head.

"It was made about fifteen years ago. All the costumes in here, except those first two, were made over the last twenty years for various pageants." He dug his hand into the trunk and pulled out a dark blue dress and held it out to Amy.

"It's just like the one Abigail is wearing in the painting downstairs" she gasped.

"That's right, it was made for the 1975 pageant. I thought you would like to wear it in this year's pageant. I have just the thing for Leonard to wear too." He delved into the trunk again and pulled out a boy's suit similar to the blue one Amy had found, but made of green silk. "Take these home and try them for size." Lenny held the suit at arms length and looked at the lace collar in disgust.

"No way, I'm not wearing this thing. Everybody will laugh at me."

"No they won't" Mr Porter reassured him. "They'll all be dressed in similar outfits so you won't look out of place. Oh, you'll need stockings and shoes to go with the suit."

"Stockings! I can't wear stockings."

"Oh it's only for one day Lenny, and you've got to look the part." Amy pleaded.

"Can't I be a Roundhead instead?"

"Sorry Leonard, we don't have any Roundhead costumes to fit you." Mr Porter was searching through one of the smaller boxes on the shelves. "Ah! Here we are, and this one is for you Amy." he handed them a box each. Lenny opened his and Amy tried not to laugh as he eyed the contents suspiciously. It contained dark green stockings and brown leather shoes with green bows. "And we mustn't forget the hat of course" Mr Porter passed a large brimmed brown hat with a green feather in it "you'll look quite the gentleman with that on." Lenny threw him a sidelong glance and sighed.

Amy peeked into her box to find beautiful blue shoes with tiny pearls stitched onto them. She thanked Mr Porter and they both left clutching their new outfits, Lenny grumbling all the way.