The carriage rocked as whoever had been standing on top it swung something large and scary at Nathan’s head. Nora was flung back against the cushions and slid down the bench, the scream stuck in her throat. She watched Nathan fall, heard the mud as it squirmed around his prone body.
Someone jumped off the carriage and landed in front of the open doorway. Nora sat up, her hair swinging into her face. She pushed it away, and the air flew out of her lungs. The Duchess of Chesterfield’s face was inches from her own.
“What are you doing here?” the duchess demanded.
Nora had suddenly forgotten how to speak English. She saw Nathan unconscious in the road and simply could not breathe. Her heart would not even pump. She could not. . . live.
The duchess grabbed her and shook, hard. “I asked you a question.”
The sing-song cadence of the duchess’s voice brought Nora back. “I…I…I should ask you the same thing.” Nora reached up and shoved. The duchess fell backward landing on her butt in the mud. The sudden flare of satisfaction had Nora smiling.
The roads were muddy. I mean very muddy in Regency England. Roads were only dirt paths to a certain destination. There were no hard surfaces, and rain was detrimental to travel. In this excerpt, I played up the muddy roads as it had been raining, and as Nora and Nathan were traveling to Dover, the roads would have become nearly impassable. The blog, Jane Austen’s World, gives a great description on travel and the condition of roads in the 19th century.