Linda could smell the stew long before Brigit's cottage came into sight. This was a cooler June then the one in which she'd arrived on the estate, and hot food would be very welcome even after her exertions along the way. She couldn't quite pick out the individual flavours, but she knew what ingredients would be in there: rabbit, pigeon, and possibly some smoked bacon: all supplemented with early potatoes and greens from Brigit's garden, dried herbs from bunches hanging in her kitchen, and garlic from the Lodge's main kitchen garden. Later in the year would come the first game, and then the autumn lamb from the estate's moors and farms.
Linda rounded a bend in the path, and the cottage was in front of her. She could hear the chickens now, clucking over the faint sounds of wilder birds deeper within the wood. Perceval trotted round from the back of the cottage, nosing at Linda's hands and pockets as soon as he reached her, as if he knew already that she had a treat for him.
Leaving Perceval, his treat, and her boots at the back door, Linda went straight through to the kitchen, where Brigit stood at the stove, blowing gently on a tablespoonful of rich, dark gravy.
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