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murmured tales of iron wars

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The most peculiar thing called it back, the smell of tar and hemp rope a week ago, today the splash of his horse's hooves in the stream. How strange, Edrington had thought nostalgia was meant to a longing for one's homeland, not these spectres of a country he hoped never to see again.

His horse shifted under him, sensing his unease, and Edrington stroked its neck before turning back to the stream. The melt off the uplands had swept away part of the weir, leaving the goit quite dry and the mill itself motionless.

He told himself that the arrangements for the mending of his waterway – and the song of the lark, the way this horse was still raw enough to start at a shot, a taste of properly aged claret, and Mama's indefatigable pressure to simply choose a young lady – that all these things mattered a good deal more than an imagined scent of gunpowder or the ghost of a ship's whistle carried away by the wind.

Then he urged his horse up the bank. He had work to do, even now.