‘Mama,you gave me a fright?’
I clutched my chest,my heavy heart was beating ever so fast.How did she find me? No don’t tell me after all that was said,my husband has betrayed my trust before I even got the chance to confront her.
‘How did you know that I was here?’
‘I had my sources.’
‘I know it,don’t tell me my husband squealed on me? How typical of Lord Rickman?’
‘It merely slipped off my tongue child.’
‘More like you forced it out of him,you’re extremely good in the art of interrogating people? What did you do force feed him with olives in order to extract information?’
‘You look as though you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards?’ She held her nose in the air. ‘And what is that stench?you’re clothes so bedraggled.Where have you been to get yourself in that state of undress?’
‘I went to visit Papa and Carl’s grave.’
‘If Lord William could see you know.He wouldn’t be able to look you in the eye.Stinking to high heaven,dripping wet.Whatever possessed you to venture out into the treacherous storm?’
‘I’ve had my reasons…I feel close to my Carl in the stormiest of weathers.’
‘You’re such a deluded child!’
‘That may be,but I speak of the truth Lady Delessop.’
‘What they say of saying in the West Wing is it true?’
‘It is my Lady.’
‘I felt there was a time that I had to let him go.Return the engagement ring he gave to me when I was fifteen years old.’
‘Naïve to keep hold of a piece of tin for so long.’
‘It was sweet of him,it’s not a piece of tin.It symbolises how he felt at that time.Carl was the first person to ever love and respect me for who I truly am.He wasn’t like any of the other shallow gentleman not at all like Daniel.I blame you for preventing our marriage to go ahead.’
‘You were fifteen years old Gisele,I was saving you from a lifetime of misery and regret…Your way of dealing with this,by arranging an unwanted marriage to his eldest brother Duke Matthew Casey.He has nothing like his brother,Carl was sweet and kind and would never hurt a fly.Matthew,he was nothing but a snake in the grass.All of the women,he was sly but you could never see all of this could you? That night of my twenty first you behaving as though you had only just met him.My own mother,a hypercrite.All you could see was my daughter’s marrying a Duke,what will I benefit from this wonderful marriage? Imagine Gisele,a Duchess? You have no kind reguard for how I truly felt.I was seveneteen and all alone that’s why I left him at the alter.Papa was right,money was as always your one true God.’
‘Have you finished child?’
‘No I haven’t,my happiness ripped right from underneath me.But ever the dutiful daughter,I was powerless to stop you,I learnt for ever so long to put up,stay stumn or face the consequences.’
‘I was your Mama,I thought Duke Matthew was an ideal match?’
‘Don’t you listen to a single word I am saying,because of you’re meddling,your wife has collided from one disaster to another.I only agreed to a marriage to Lord Rickman,just to satisfy your hunger and greed in order for far greater wealth.Fine,the Delessop’s fortune was dwindling,but why pile all of the pressure on me? I mean tell me Mama,did I deserve any of that.I grew scared of you…I no longer reguarded you as my Mama.’
‘Lord Rickman spoke extremely highly of you.The poor sap that he is,stood up for your honour.’
‘Mama,your empty and cruel words can bring me down.You have never been here for your daughters,not really.Brought up,by endless nanny’s.’
‘You found most of them disagreeable? The countless screams we heard from the nursery?’
‘That’s our code of crying for help Mama.We wanted our Mama in our lives,not to be cast aside.Once upon a time,there lived six girls craving to be held by their Mama.You never came?’
‘Your Papa and I only wanted what was truly best for you girls.I thought that sending you to endless parties and balls was how a Mama should behave?’
‘Because of you,I’m damaged goods.’
‘Gisele,I have watched you from a far,blossom into a vibrant and beautiful young woman.You didn’t need your Mama holding you back.You are many things Gisele,selfish.So self-absorbed in your own looks,weak at a gentleman’s touch.Courtesan of London’s society,whoring yourself to all and sundry.’
‘I think I’ve heard enough!’
‘But on the other hand.you’re sweet natured,full of warmth and kind hearted.A good Mother to your children.Something I could never be.’
‘You could always change things? Esme and Ava are up in the west wing.Waiting and longing for kisses and cuddles from their Gran’Mama.My return to London hasn’t turned out as perfect as I intended.You can hate me all you like Mama,but it will only turn you into a bitter and twisted woman.Keep driving everyone you love away and you will spend your dying days alone.When you could be spending your finest moments with your family.Life’s too short to hold a grudge,I’m not the perfect daughter.Far from it,not asking for your forgiveness.All I ask is for your blessing,so we can get together as a family.Sit down at meal times,when we’ve returned to Italy.Exchange smiles and small conversation,punish me Mama for I truly deserve it.Don’t punish Ava and Esme,it’s your choice?’
I left Mama and returned to the west wing.
‘There you are!’
‘I’m so sorry.’
‘Have you been crying?’
‘It’s been a trying day,I returned to engagement ring to Carl.’
‘I don’t understand I thought that you had made arrangements to visit your Papa?’
‘The truth is I took a slight de tour…call it a spare of the moment kind of thing.’
‘I had no idea that you were engaged to Carl?’
‘There’s nothing tobe jealous of Ben,it was nothing really.’
‘You don’t have to pretend anymore Gisele.’
‘I know how much you loved him?’
‘Thank you for being so understanding.’
‘Talk to me Gis.’
‘Letting go was one of the hardest things.’
Lord Henry embraced me gently by the shoulders,he gazed into my eyes.He brushed a stray strand of hair from my face and tucked it behind my ear.
‘Look at you,you’re freezing.Your hair?’
‘None of that matters.’
‘You’ll get pneumonia.’
‘Don’t be so dramatic Ben.’
‘Nurse you from your sick bed and mop your wet brow is one thing Gis,but I can not imagine my life without you?’
‘Is everything all right?
‘The truth is,it’s been quite an overwhelming day for me too.Ava called me Papa.’
‘Don’t look so surprised Ben,she adores you.In fact they both do.’
‘I’m not ashamed to admit that I expressed true emotion for the first time…shedding tears contemplating our future.I imagined the day you would bare my beautiful child.May it be a son or a daughter,you placed the precious little mite into my arms.The child would cry,but I would look into your eyes and they would be filled with hope.’
I bent forward to kiss Lord Henry,I have never hear him speak words so sentimental before.He has pictured our children but after William my confidence of baring a healthy son or daughter was now shattered.But how could I tell him,I don’t want to let him down especially when he is so blissfully happy.Mama made a bold entrance,which broke me out of my trance.I jumped out of Lord Henry’s sweet embrace.
‘Oh do no stop on my account.Lord Henry?’
Lord Henry attempted to brow,Lady Antoinette placed her hand in the air to put a stop to this.Quite right too,Mama is certainly no royal far from it.
‘Do not bow Lord Henry.’
‘What a pleasant surprise,Lord Henry and I weren’t expecting anyone?’
‘Lady Rickman,Lord Henry I was wondering if you would like to join us for evening dinner?’
‘There’s no need to address me formally Mama.Is dinner your way of apologising?’
‘Someone told me that life’s too short… let us throw caution to the wind,and by gones be by gones….’
‘If you think that champagne and fine food,is going to win Gisele over? Then you’ve underestimated her good will,she’s not one to be bought.’
‘Benjamin,I can handle this.’
‘Gisele please,let us put this silly little matter behind us.’
‘I should despise you for what you did to me?’
‘You have a good heart petit Gisele.We have so much hatred and bad blood in this family and I detest it so.I see how I’ve missed a big gap in Esme and Ava’s childhood,I see how much they’ve changed in my absence.I know I can’t undo any past regrets.I am not proud of what I did to you girls.But I am determined to make it up to you.I refuse to abuse the time we have left together,the prospect of this brings a lump to my throat.But no matter,when do you return to Italy?’
‘I have no idea,the truth is we plan to marry here.But Lord Henry’s separation to Louisa needs to be resolved.We are here for as long as you’ll have us?’
‘What of Lord Henry’s family?’
‘Ever since I walked out on my family,Lord and Lady Henry put their pride before the love of their own son and has simply turned their back on their heir once and for all.The devastating truth is we only have Ana’s blessing.I am entirely to blame for falling in love with your daughter.In their eyes I have broken my holy vows….I’m dead to mother and father as far as their concerned.’
‘Their loss,well that is settled all is well in the world once more.Gisele I suggest indulge yourself in the finest things.Take a nice hot bath surround yourself with beautiful candles.’
‘Is that really necassary?’
‘Mother knows best Gisele,put your best gown on.I want your essence to be sweet smelling once more.I refuse to allow Lady Henry to believe that their husband’s mistress has lost their touch.’
‘As for you Lord Henry,you have my permission to marry my daughter.It’s obvious,I can see the twinkles returned to her eyes once more.She finds you respectable enough to marry and I find you tolerable.Once she has her heart set on something,there’s no changing her mind.’
‘I shall not let you down Lady Delessop…I shall treasure your daughters heart,and consider her feelings always.’
‘Enough of the sentiments Lord Henry,in my experience actions speak louder than words.First of all why hasn’t she got a ring upon her finger?’
‘Please do not be late.’
A little while later,we where all sat at the dining table in the main hall.Wearing my ivy coloured gown and a white flower in my hair,fastened tightly into a respectable bun.I left two kiss curls on either side of my head as I knew it would drive Lord Henry wild.I felt a tad awkward sitting at the same table as Louisa.Perhaps a little dutch courage is perhaps what I need,in order to get through the dinner.Our paths hadn’t crossed since the infamous incident in the ballroom.Lord Henry ran his hand down my back for reassurance,my skin turned a little crimson.
‘Are you blushing Lady Gisele?’
‘Now’s not the right time my Lord,please will you ease off a bit?’
I turned to Holly,she clutched onto my hand for dear life.
‘Careful,you’ll squeeze me to death Holl.’
‘Sorry Gis,it’s just that I’m ever so pleased to see you back home.’
‘Thank you Holly.’
‘Louisa and Evangaline have become extremely close and thick with one another in your absense? I can not help but feel a tad jealous of the friendship they have formed?’
‘Louisa is nothing to worry about,she is quite the fickle one where it comes to making friends.’
‘I beg to differ.’
‘You know what you’re trouble is Holly? Sometimes you can be you’re own worst enemy.Please,do yourself a favour and stop isolating yourself?’
I looked once more and Benjamin had discreetly moved from my side.What is something I had said,he was now sat alongside Esme and Ava.Maybe I was a little harsh on,but there’s a time and a place.Mama’s peace dinner isn’t one of them.The act of passion,is the last thing on my mind.Esme was so sweet,trying to act ever so lady like,but she was struggling with the table etiquette.Overwhelmed by the various utensils that were set before her,reminds me of the time I was faced with the various spoons,knives and having no inclination of what I was meant to be doing.What my steak knife was? So it’s quite a daunting experience for a small child.
‘This Es…is your dessert spoon,that is your soup spoon.’
‘Will Gran Mama be having chocolate cake and icecream?’
‘You take after your sister,you have quite the sweet tooth?’
‘It’s not a party without cake?’ She looked at him longingly.
‘I have no idea,why don’t you ask her?’
‘Princess’s never have to ask.’ giggled Ava.
‘We shall have carrot soup,our main course.’
‘Why do rich people eat so much? I’ll be happy with cheese and crackers….I’ve only a tiny little belly.’
‘Ava eats like a pig!’ laughs Esme.
‘Say you’re sorry Es.’
‘Ava once you’re older,you will grow accustomed to the finest things in life.Like your Mama,she likes nothing more than indulging in caviar,quails eggs,croissants,truffles and tine finest sparkly champagne.’
‘With bubbles?’ said Esme.
‘The bubblier the better.’ laughed Lord Henry. ‘Whatever is it Ava?’
‘Quails eggs! That’s disgusting!’ said Ava. Screwing her face up in disgust.
‘Miss Delessop,do not knock it until you’ve tried it!’ smiled Lord Henry. ‘Now come closer,I would like to tell you something….In order to catch a gentleman’s eye,you have sit up straight at all times?’
‘Like this?’ said Esme.
‘Invite him in with your beautiful smile.’
‘No Esme it looks like you’ve got wind.’
‘A warm heavenly smile,just like your Mama did,to capture this gentleman’s heart and let’s this be between you and I…Don’t I repeat do not slurp your soup,gentlemen do not take kind to women who abuse the art of etiquette.’
‘Unlike Holly,she sucks it through her teeth,poor dear.’ giggled Evangaline.
‘It’s showing my appreciation.’ sighed Holly.
‘Do not take it to heart.’ I whispered. ‘She’s merely showing off to her shiny new toy.’
‘Oh poor Holly,it’s true she eats like a dog at the dinner table.Skye had better manner’s than she ever did.No wonder she can’t get a man to fall for her so called charm?’
‘Don’t bite back Holly.’ I whispered. ‘Listen to me,do not give her the satisfaction to know that she’s hurt you’re feelings.Count to three,one two three,deep breathes and allow the words to wash over you.’
‘You’re so good at this.’
‘You need to pick the pieces up and start once more and try not take everything to heart.Deep down you’re quite the sensitive soul?’
‘Just like you did,pick up the pieces time and time again? I’ve watched you struggle to smile? How do you manage to keep your spirit alive?
‘There are times I’ve appeared battered and bruised like a wondered gazelle but I had to keep up appearances.When Carl slipped through my fingers,fading away from my life.There where times when I thought I could no longer continue,for there was nothing left.A piece of me died that day,Carl was my kindred spirit.Our romance was jeopardised with Mama’s heavy handed way of my arranged marriage to Duke Matthew.All of my life I’ve fought back against selfish men.I never thought that I would ever escape from Jack,he may have appeared all sweetness and light to society.But I knew of the truth,all of the secret beatings I took from him.Little excuses he did this because he loved me,his act of love.But he had got it into my knife,manipulating me.Said that he was all I had and I should be greatful that I had him in my life.Constantly pulling my strings,I was convinced that I loved him.He was clever with the bruises,hurt me where I could secretly conceal it…there was a time when he forgot himself he bruised my face badly.I had to say I stumbled over in the hallway.The servants were all aware of my clumsiness and they bought this idea.They never once bat an eyelid,and I allowed them to think that their lady of the manor wasn’t under threat.’
‘It doesn’t stop the whispers,you and I both know that.’
‘This was my way of punishment,I didn’t love him I despised him but I was scared of bringing up Ava alone.He took advantage of my vulnerability,invited himself into my life and bed.Then along came Es,I wouldn’t change her for the world.But there was no escape,scared that next time I would’nt be so lucky.Lesson learnt never trust a stranger again.My view changed when Lord Henry came along,he was different to Lord Rickman.Open minded,sweet kind generous and…’
‘Good in the bedroom department?’
‘Holly Delessop,you make me blush.’
‘Is that a yes?’
‘A lady never tells,all I can say is Benjamin he showed patience,proved to me that it wasn’t just about lust.Beautiful intimacy,take heed do not make the same mistakes that I did Holly.Trust me.’
‘Did you ever love Oliver Gisele?’
‘There was a time when I could have sacrificed my life for him,not anymore.If you feel like you’re drowning and unable to gasp for air.Don’t swallow your pride and feel you can manage.I’m always here for you.’
‘Don’t promise things you are unable to keep?’
‘I’m sorry but it’s true you’re never here.You’ll be returning to Italy soon?’
‘One simple letter and I shall drop everything at a moments notice.Or you can stay in Italy for as long as you like.You never know a fine specimen gentleman may sweep you off your feet.How I long to see you smile again.You’re beautiful Holly don’t allow anyone else to tell you different.’
‘Cross my heart.’
I casually placed my elbow upon the table and longingly watched Lord Henry.Oh he has no idea how much he sends shivers down my spine even know with Esme and Ava.He is so good with the pair of them,treating them like his own little princess’s.Amusing them with their silly little traits.From that moment on,it made me feel as though I can’t wait to have children of our own.I then looked at Lord Rickman,my heart sank,it must have taken a lot of pride to sit here.How he must feel excluded in his little girls upbringing.How it must kill him witnessing another gentleman play Papa.
‘You look perfect. ‘smiled Oliver.
‘It’s just an old gown I found in my case,nothing special.’
‘Come on Gisele don’t act so modest,you can at least take a compiment off your husband?’
‘You’re an unwritten song written by the Goddess’s in the stars above.Your porcelain skin are like wings of a dove.’
‘If this is your idea of composing a sonnet then it’s little too late Oliver.’
Louisa cleared her throat boldly to engage polite conversation with her Benjy.Oh what is the matter Louisa can’t you bare to see your husband’s finally happy.Always craving to be centre of attention,it pains me to say this but Louisa is still his wife and I’m only his live in mistress.That means nothing in the eyes of the law and London society.She could have the power,using the art of seduction.Leading him in with her beautiful alluring eyes.Letting him think that her life’s oh so tragic.Leading him a merry dance,snare him with her toxic paws until he’s tangled in her web.I am powerless only to look on in hope,that an old flame will not reignite itself once more.He loved me but I’m not sure whether he will be tempted towards the forbidden fruit,once bitten twice shy and this lady clear has revenge on her mind.’
‘Louisa? It may appear that you have a frog in your throat?’
‘Don’t be so absurd,it was merely to gain your attention to prevent you from making moon eyes towards her.’
‘My fiancee’ has a name?’
‘It’s ever so good to see you Benjamin,since our parting.I realised how much I’ve missed you.You’re looking ever so handsome?’
‘I realise I behaved appallingly towards Gisele?’
‘That you did?’ sighed Lord Henry.
‘I’m sorry Benjy,it’s just that I can not help but feel territorial…seeing you with Esme and Ava made me realise what I could have had and lost.A hint of jealously and rage has sent me over the edge.I’m better now,I no longer have to deal with those demons.’
‘It’s a pity you put your pride before your love? The way you spoke to me the day we returned after our beautiful honeymoon was unforgivable?’
‘I was afraid I wouldn’t be accepted.’
‘Lord and Henry bent over backwards in accepting you into their family.Ana adored you,Arthur showered you with gifts.You Louisa you’re your own worst enemy,you were transforming into someone I no longer recognised?’
‘I was scared,I felt insecure count me lucky stars that I could be married to such a gentle and generous man.It never once occurred to me that you would end up with my sister in law?’
‘Your new hair and clothes does not work with me.You may appear confident on the outside,but I can see right through you.The truth is,it was you that was the death of our marriage.Gisele,just helped it along.’
‘Those cruel words are not of you,she’s poisoned you’re mind against me?’
‘No,you’re sheer desperation and clingyness was the final straw.Forgive me if I may appear out of line Lady Henry,but no matter the amount of champagne you ply me with.You can no longer control me. You’re fake femme fatale masked with your words of understanding is not going to allow me to see you differently. Fall back into bed with you once more,I love Gisele,I’ve never loved you.I only married you out of frustration and boredom,you were there at the right time.I still want,no I demand for a seperation,and I’m not leaving until I get it.’
‘Is that a threat Lord Henry?’
‘No it’s not a threat it’s a promise Lady Henry.’
‘A toast to my daughter Gisele,she was lost now she is found.To Gisele and Lord Henry.’
‘Gisele and Lord Henry.’
Lord Rickman and Louisa reluctantly raised their glass.
A little while later,Lord Henry were in the comfort of a warm bed in the guest room.We lay there unable to move.
‘To be in your arms once more,in warm silk covers again.I’m sorry about earlier at the dinner table.I merely gave you the brush off.I wanted to prove to Louisa that we’re strong and not just about you know? Sometimes you take advantage of the little things comfort and love.I saw you earlier with Esme and Ava at the dinner table.You’re teaching them the perfect dinner etiquette.’
‘You don’t mind did you?’
‘Mind…my sweet Lord Henry,it was a beautiful moment.How strong a bond you have quickly formed.It brought a lump to my throat.Do you think we will get a chance of becoming parents.You will never grow bored of me will you?’
‘No,I am crazy about you.’
‘I was saw you with Louisa,it was pretty intense between you two earlier?’
‘I demanded for a divorce.’
‘I hope you weren’t two heavy handed with her?’
‘Louisa is highly aware of my intentions towards her,it’s not her love.Sometimes she needs things spelt out to her.I may have appeared brutal to her,so be it.I realise she was your friend in the past but sometimes she can have a head full of air.It might take time,but this I promise you.Hold onto our memories,as this is what enables me to live.I remember the first moment in Versailles,I wanted you then.’
‘I never doubted that for a minute Lord Henry.’
‘How you boldly approached me.’
‘You can talk,I was a married lady.’
All of the sneaking around in the early stages of our blossoming romance?’
‘I advice you to choose your words wisely my lord.Blossoming romance? I would refer to it as a mere complication.’
‘You almost broke me?’
‘We had to fight to get where we are now,my faith was certainly tested.But I wouldn’t change a single second of it.Whatever is it?’
‘I can not get my head around,that your Mama has finally accepted us.’
‘I would hardly call it that?’
‘You and I will be gracing one’s balls,before you know it? This I promise you Lady Rickman.’
‘I know I aught to be patient,oh how I detest being your mistress.I so long to be your bride,your wife.I know I’m not in my right after all I drove you into marrying her.’
‘I shall never give up,I shall act the noble gentleman and wait for the divorce.I refuse my name to be dragged through the dirt.For I can not be compared that to that vile gentleman Duke Matthew,I will not hound Louisa,until she gives me what is rightfully mine.’
‘I recall every flower it took for me to win you over? Every single stolen moment we had to grab is now a thing of the past? I know you don’t appreciate the trysts in the darkened corridors? But waking up besides you,holding you for hours.Doesn’t it taste so sweet? Making it all worth the while…The scent of your perfume,you left upon my pillow.When you walked out of my life,every word was always full of intelligence.Bringing much needed poetry to my ears.’
‘I kept all of my letters Ben.’
‘As did I…The first time we kissed at Lady Chadwick’s you little minx?’
‘Reluctantly on my part…Reflecting upon it now such a special milestone in my life,completely taken in by you.I know at that point you and I would eventually be together.’All of those darkened nights we talked of our escape?’
‘Don’t ever change.’
I know it may appear a boat of the blue,but I feel I aught to write to Sophia,there’s a little bit of faith within me that makes me feel that I would like her back in my life.More than ever.
I know this letter may appear as a shock to you.
But Mama and I have made our peace,and once
our seperations have been resolved.Lord Henry and
I plan to marry in London.It would mean so much if
you and our can put aside our differences and go back
to the way our friendship was before.Of course I’ve
asked Reinette to become my bridesmaid.But I need
you too,you and Daniel are so important to me.
I know I’ve said many unforgiveable things,I refuse
to give up on us.
A few days later,I received a letter that was an answer to all of my prayers.
Well it is a shock to hear from you,after all of this time.
I am aware of you’re stay in London.I had heard through
endless whispers and I refused to believe it.
I am so pleased that you and Mama had made your
peace,despite your stormy relationship.You and
Antoinette need one another.Life’s too short my
Gisele,I am overwhelmed by your kind gesture
of offering your hand of friendship.I was torn in
whether to make the first move.
I feel that where almost as stubborn as one another.
After all we have been through,I can not for certain
give you a simple yes.
I love you so,but we have said so many hurtful things
to one another.Can we put it behind us? Yes we’ve
lost Carl and since then we have slowly drifted apart.
I think I need some time to make this decision.
Do not judge me.
I folded the letter,and sunk on to the ground.
‘Gisele whatever is it?’
‘Ben,Sophia has given up on us.She’s abandoned me.What am I to do?’
‘Perhaps it’s the shock Gisele,give her time…she loves you.Do not rush her,she will see your way in the end.’
‘I hope you’re right?’
‘Believe me,she’d be a fool to turn down the opportunity of making my beautiful Gis proud.If she doesn’t then you are not abandoned.You have me,and the girls you will no longer be alone.When we are married,it will be tough we all have our faults and I am fully aware of your insecurities and there may be times when I can not trust you,because of your history.But please do not detest me.I will never turn my back on you,or recoil in disgust over your feelings.Once that ring is placed upon your finger,then that will seal our love for keeps.Be our future in London or Italy.I can not wait for the day to call you Lady Gisele Henry.’
He gently nuzzled my neck.
‘Now get thee to bed and rest my Lady.’
Lord Henry was right Sophia did see it my way.She had returned to Mama’s estate where we wined and dined and set our feelings aside.
‘Am I dreaming?’ I gushed.
‘No it’s your Sophia.’ she smiled.
I warmly embraced my beautiful friend.
‘Nicole has pneumonia.’
‘You should have written?’
‘No matter,Daniel has everything under control.All she needs is bed rest and she’s under Doctor Bryanys orders.There’s nothing more I can do.’
‘Your daughter needs you? I would understand?’
‘I couldn’t possibly keep my closest friend hanging onto my word without a reply.’
‘I thought that I should like to tell you in person,Gisele is this what you truly want? Pardon me but haven’t we been here before?’
‘I understand you have my best wishes at heart.But I couldn’t be more happier.’
‘Then how could I possibly refuse.Lady Rickman.I shall be honoured in becoming your brides maid.’
‘Sophia,you have no idea how much this means to me? I’ve been dreaming of this day,you and I sitting down to afternoon tea for ever so long.’
‘What does Lord Rickman think of this?’
‘He’s handling it in his own unique way.’
‘Don’t you find it odd that he still lives here?’
‘I’ve grown accustomed to it now?’
‘But what of Serenity and New Dawn? Such a waste?’
‘I feel it’s not my place to ask.’
‘Oh Gisele what am I going to do with you?’
I was afraid to admit it back then,but Lord Henry was right.Again true to his word we where back in circulation.For a few months later,Mama was hosting a welcome home ball to be held in honour for her dutiful daughter.Which soon turned out to be an engagement ball.After my shocking announcement.
‘It’s a letter from Lord Rickman’s solicitor.I can not believe this my seperation has finally been resolved.’
‘Is this true child?’
‘See for yourself Mama.It’s all their in black and white.’
I passed my parchement to Mama.
‘My my,it is true?’
‘That explains Oliver and Louisa’s absence at the breakfast table.How will you cope without your shadow clinging to your side?’
‘Holly,now is not the time!’
Lord Henry took hold of my hand. ‘Is something bothering you my love?’
‘I don’t know whether I aught to laugh or cry?’ I sighed.
‘Isn’t this what you’re always dreamt of?’
‘Yes Ben,we’ve spoke of it so many times.But I never have dreamt…I feel sick to the pit of my stomach.It all seems so final?’
‘You need to stop wallowing in self pity and blame.Your marriage of yours was dead from the moment you said ‘I do.”
‘Thank you ever so much for your vote in confidence Mama.’
‘It’s true,you’ve grieved for your marriage.It’s time Lord Henry made an honest woman out of you.No time but the present.You’ve played you’re part and went on bended knee.Tonight won’t be your welcome home ball.When it shall be the right opportunity to celebrate yours and Lord Henry’s engagement.’
At that point Louisa and Oliver walked in.
‘Mama isn’t that improper I mean?’
I stood up out of politeness and addressed Lord Rickman.I curtsied ‘Lord Rickman.’
‘Do not stop on my account.’
‘And do not feel you need to curtsy my brother out of pity Gisele.I know what you’re about to say.Benjamin and I are still married.But Indeed it is right rather improper.The inks barely run down and you’re already announcing your engagement to the world.Sorry I’m late my Lady,Oliver and I took a long walk in the grounds.We lost track of time.’
Louisa sat down at the table.
‘Oliver and I’d known you were standing there? I would have put a stop to Mama’s nonsense?’
‘Lady Delessop,may I be the first to offer my congratulations.I hope that you and Lord Henry will have a long and prosperous life together.Is there still tea on offer Lady Antoinette?’
‘I shall get one of the maids to fetch a fresh pot at once.’
‘Do not put yourself out on my account?’
Louisa struck a chord with Evangaline.As she quietly wept,she placed her hand into hers.
‘Whatevers the matter?’
‘I fear ever since my brother and sister are no longer married.We shall be packed off to live a new life in New Dawn Estate.I can not bare to see the look of pity upon the maids faces.Poor little rich girl,and this could effect us that you and I could no longer be friends?’
I turned to Sophia ‘Louisa is quite a fine actress don’t you think?’
‘Her tears we’re not genuine?’
‘Forgive me if I may appear harsh? But do not allow yourself to be taken in by Lady Henry.Her crocodile tears will not work.She feels if she portrays herself as the wronged wife we would react…Lord Henry will take her back once more then all will be right in her own little fairytale marriage.’
‘I fear Lady Henry is ill? She’s looking awfully pale don’t you think?’
‘This Lady certainly isn’t ill,she’s deluded Sophia.’
‘Since when did your heart become so hollow and motionless? What happend to Gisele? Carl’s Gisele? One who was fair and true,her heart was once full of compassion? She would never say a bad word against anyone? Even Lady Isabelle,it just wasn’t in her nature?’
‘There was a time when I thought exactly the same concept Sophia.The whole prospect of speaking ill towards another human being,would not only send a pit to my stomach..But would also bring shame to my family. ‘Treat others as you expect yourself Gisele.Respect Gisele it gets you where you aught to go to climb the cruel ladder and society.Goodness got me no where Sophia.I have to be cold and ruthless and have a hard look in life in order to be taken serious.Italy surely opened my eyes,through all of the colours,sheer beauty and glamour of it all.You know what they say of me? Little whispers,oh poor innocent Gisele.So devastingly sweet and naive even in her tender years.Will she ever learn? No fight within her tiny little finger.Only has her bewitching looks,no intellect what so ever.Louisa needs to wake up Sophia,she imagine her life living inside chapters of a book.Dreaming of seasons,the beautiful spring time admiring flowers,lying in the fresh green smelling meadows.With her love,trying to recapture her youth.Summer fetes of strawberries,Benjamin serenading her at the annual Delessop recital.Autumn leaves,the beautiful crisp snow,snow flakes falling upon her nose.Beside a log fire,huddling together for warmth.Seasons change and fade,lovers grow apart.’