“All I want is a hot fire and a toddy,” her father said wearily as Fiona lead them to a hired coach. The coachman was quick to help her with the luggage and settle her parents, but he had to mind his horses, too, so she had to make several trips to the ferry. At least the sailors helped her with the final crates.
Finally she climbed into the carriage with Barghest, noting that her parents were snuggled under a carriage blanket. Well, that was something, but unfortunately she was about to deliver bad news. She’d been dreading it as she’d watched for the ferry, unable to fly with the coachman waiting. “I know I flew out yesterday to secure a room, Mère, Père. I’m sorry to say that as of tonight, I’ve failed. It seems there’s ‘no room at the inn’. I spent last night in a cave.” Since she was stone at night, she’d been quite comfortable, but she needed to underscore the gravity of the situation.
“But we had reservations!” Her mother protested. She was clearly exhausted and frozen from her ordeal, and the odor of wet dog filling the carriage probably wasn’t helping. She nudged Barghest, but he insisted on leaning on her skirt, coating it with hair.
“It seems that every last inn, attic and barn is rented,” Fiona said grimly. “No amount of money will get us a room for the night. However, I found an abandoned cottage and left a fire burning. You’ll be able to change into dry clothes and have some hot tea and stew before the mail coach leaves.”
“The mail coach!” her mother protested. The well-guarded mail couch traveled at night, which was good for Fiona. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop for the comfort of travelers and often changed horses.
“Good thinking,” her father said gruffly. “We’ve already delayed a week as it is; I hope his Lordship got your letter so he knows we’re still coming. If we’re going to be uncomfortable, we might as well sleep in the coach.”
“Thank you. It’s a long way to London, and there’s bound to be an room for rent somewhere along the way. We’ll get you warm and comfortable soon, Mère.” The situation was bizarre and smacked of the same ill luck that that followed them lately. First the bakery had caught fire, then their landlord kicked them out of the home they’d rented for twenty years. When she’d finally tracked down the family Mrs. Black had told her about, they’d been more than ready to shake the dust of Italy from their heels, but they’d been delayed a week while they’d settled their affairs. She didn’t know what she’d find at Griffin House, hadn’t told Lord Griffin the extent of their troubles, but she was a determined gargoyle. Their situation would improve soon.
She would make it.