Two stately lines of oaks demarked the course of what must have once been a wide and well used drive. Now however, moss covered whatever might have been the pavement and it was merely a leaf strewn lane. Miss Elisabeth Blithe paced lightly along between the trees, breathing deeply of the damp English air. She wondered at the species of the conifers that crowded the towering oaks on either side. She had always tried to attend her botany lessons but she had been born and raised in far different climes in a colony and when one was raised among semi tropic blossoms it was hard to recall the names of species you only saw representations of. She made a mental note to ask her guardian. Sir Gregory Blithe always delighted in any chance to educate his ward. His devotion to her dead sire extending to herself in every proper way.
A break in the pattern caught her eye and she felt her ears perk in interest at the smaller, by comparison, oak. It was but half the size of the other in the double row and she approached it closely, wondering idly what caused the difference. As she came near the lichen covered bark she reached out to touch it, pulling back with a grimace as she recalled her delicate, white lace gloves. Lady Blithe had been so pleased to finally find something to her ward's taste (and that would fit her rather different proportions) that Elisabeth couldn't dream of dirtying the delicate fabric. And Lady Blithe aside she was rather fond of the gloves. She was in the process of carefully removing them when a strong odor accosted her, causing another grimace to crease her face.
Elisabeth smoothed her countenance almost immediately feeling irritation at herself. No matter what Sir and Lady Blithe said about the locals getting used to her colonial ways she did not feel the need to force her guardian's tenets to adapt to her particular quirks. It would simply be impolite. By the time the source of the smell came close enough to pretend she had but heard him approaching she had successfully removed the glove.
"There will be no marking up of my trees now then your ladyship," a rough voice growled from behind her.
Elisabeth stiffened instantly and spun on the gardener who had dared address her so, all thought of politeness gone in a flash at his temerity. He was a bent old man in a tattered corduroy jacket and a felt cap that was hard to distinguish from his hair. He was, all things told, exactly as she imagined Sir Blithe's gardener would look.
"I had no intention," she said, hissing out each word, "of marking up, this or any other of these magnificent trees."
"Course you didn't," he grumbled as he bent over his wheelbarrow.
"I was only wondering," she interjected before he could roll his way down the lane. "Why this one is so much smaller than the others."
"Planted later," the gardener grunted out.
Elisabeth blinked and grimaced widely. Politeness aside this man was vexing! She was about to press him for details but her eyes caught a flicker of red and she watched a robing flicking through the brush in delight. By the time she turned her attention back to the gardener he was far down the path.
"Planted later indeed," she muttered.
She slipped her glove back on angrily and gave a small frustrated cry as the fine lace caught and tore. She stared glumly at the digit now poking out into the air and flexed her claws in irritation. There would be no getting the thread to repair the lace anywhere but from the spaceport and therefor no chance of hiding the incident from Lady Blithe.
Elisabeth laid her ears back in irritation and slipped the glove into her pocket. She was far too mature for her tail to thrash at such a petty offense but quite young enough to wish that she wasn't.