We made it to Hobart Town just as the remaining tip of the sun dipped below the horizon.
It had been a long and arduous journey, and the three of us were exhausted and longing for a soft bed. Isabella had her head resting on my shoulder for the last half an hour, and I was unsure if she was asleep or not.
With gas lamps lighting our way, Nicholas' weary horse pulled us down the final stretch of road, and I took in our surroundings of the town. I knew I would appreciate it more tomorrow, but I was still awe-struck at what a difference 150 years can make.
It wasn't all different, though. I was able to recognise some of the stone buildings still standing in 2019.
Nicholas had advised us during the trip that we would stay at an inn tonight, much to Isabella's disgust. She claimed they were dirty, and insisted on staying with her sister and brother-in-law tomorrow night, who lived not too far away.
As we came to a halt, Isabella lifted her head, groggily gazing around us.
"Are we here?" she asked, voice a little croaky.
"We are," I replied.
"Thank goodness. I'm famished."
"We can have a nice, hot meal after we take our belongings up to our rooms," Nicholas said, hopping down from the buggy. "I, too, am famished. I could eat a horse," he added. Almost as though understanding that last remark, Nicholas' horse whinnied. "But not you, Ace," Nicholas told the horse affectionately, briefly rubbing its neck.
Isabella and I stepped down from the buggy, then reached inside to grab our bags. Once we were out of his way, Nicholas lifted out the painting with care, not wanting to leave it in the buggy overnight.
As we approached the front entrance, a drunk man with torn clothes, wild hair and a bushy beard whistled at us, eyeing us up and down. Isabella clutched my arm, staying close to me as we scurried past the creep and made it inside.
Isabella suggesting we stay with her family tomorrow night was the best idea she'd ever had.
I experienced the worst sleep in my 19th century life that night in the inn. Even my first night in the gaol cell seemed like a five-star hotel compared to this place.
Not only did I lay awake all night wondering what the mattress was stuffed with - it was neither cotton nor wool - but I couldn't help but wonder when the last time the threadbare blankets were washed.
After several drunks had clambered up and down the hallway, people yelling in the streets, and someone jiggling our doorknob - twice - Isabella ended up curled up beside me in my single bed, clinging for dear life to my right arm.
I'm sure I can still see the indentations of her fingernails.
Even Nicholas commented on how badly he slept. Being in the room next to us, he had spent all night listening out for our cries of help and moving along drunks hovering outside our doorway.
So after a big breakfast, we were again gathered in the buggy, relieved to see the last of that inn.
As we made our way through the busy streets of Hobart Town, Nicholas informed us he would prefer we didn't roam the streets alone, so he would drop us off at the dressmaker before making his way to deliver the painting.
We turned down a side street and pulled up outside a shop with a large painted Dressmaker sign above it and mannequins in the window. We were definitely at the right place.
Nicholas remained in the buggy as we stepped down, straightening our skirts.
"I'll return in an hour. Don't leave the shop before I get here," Nicholas warned us.
YOU ARE READING
Clay's Cottage (Book 1)Historical Fiction
[COMPLETED] Seeking inspiration for her next historical romance novel, Tilly Fletcher visits a mysterious 19th century Tasmanian cottage, abandoned suddenly over a century ago by a sad and lonely recluse. As Tilly steps through the still and silent...