Poppy took a deep, appreciative breath. “How bracing,” she said. “I wonder what makes the country air smell so different?” “It could be the pig farm we just passed,” Leo muttered. Beatrix, who had been reading from a pamphlet describing the south of England, said cheerfully, “Hampshire is known for its exceptional pigs. They’re fed on acorns and beechnut mast from the forest, and it makes the bacon quite lovely. And there’s an annual sausage competition!” He gave her a sour look. “Splendid. I certainly hope we haven’t missed it.” Win, who had been reading from a thick tome about Hampshire and its environs, volunteered, “The history of Ramsay House is impressive.” “Our house is in a history book?” Beatrix asked in delight. “It’s only a small paragraph,” Win said from behind the book, “but yes, Ramsay House is mentioned. Of course, it’s nothing compared to our neighbor, the Earl of Westcliff, whose estate features one of the finest country homes in England. It dwarfs ours by comparison. And the earl’s family has been in residence for nearly five hundred years.” “He must be awfully old, then,” Poppy commented, straight-faced. Beatrix snickered. “Go on, Win.” “‘Ramsay House,’” Win read aloud, “‘stands in a small park populated with stately oaks and beeches, coverts of bracken, and surrounds of deer-cropped turf. Originally an Elizabethan manor house completed in 1594, the building boasts of many long galleries representative of the period. Alterations and additions to the house have resulted in the grafting of a Jacobean ballroom and a Georgian wing.’” “We have a ballroom!” Poppy exclaimed. “We have deer!” Beatrix said gleefully. Leo settled deeper into his corner. “God, I hope we have a privy.

~ Lisa Kleypas