Welcome to Carmaliot
The village huddled in a valley fold, its single street rising fairly steeply between converging slopes. Above and beyond the clutter of buildings, on the horizon, an immensely larger house was silhouetted against a sky whose fading but more perceptible brightness proclaimed the west.
A house, or possibly a castle. A round tower marked each flank, while at the centre a spire rose higher even than their turrets, a proud thrust of stone commanding attention, and awe. I had expected to be impressed, but the effect of this first sight was more striking than I could have guessed. It would have been an imposing edifice anywhere but in this setting, with the darker line of moor stretching away under the evening sky, it was magnificent. But the magnificence did not move me. I had expected to dislike it, too, and the seeing confirmed that. It was what the residence of someone like Sir Donald Bedivere should be: grand and arrogant, dominating the humble village at its feet. A loathsome place, I thought.
We lost sight of it as the road curved more sharply to go through the village. Cottages flashed by, some dark, some lamp-lit. An open door which spilled brighter light into the dusk looked like a tavern. As the incline grew sharper the horses laboured, and the coachman cracked his whip, urging them on. I had a glimpse of gate posts, a tiny lodge, and the lodge-keeper standing cap in hand, his wife and children in line beside him. There were shrubs and trees, twilit lawns. The carriage wheels crunched delicately on gravel. Then the carriage swung in a wide arc and I saw the house once more, looming up beside us, with lights behind high mullioned windows. The Berlin rocked to a halt by a flight of broad stone steps, on which half a dozen servants at least were drawn up to receive us. Sir Donald leaned forward and touched my arm.
‘We are here, Jane. Welcome to Carmaliot.’