Chapter 18

Chapter 18
After all of the planning and the various correspondence with my Mama in London to agree upon a suitable date.The day of the garden fete had finally arrived.Experienced a mixture of emotions,I had a lot to prove to Mama and society itself.That I Lady Gisele Henry,wasn’t completely dependent upon Lord Rickman.My marriage to Lord Henry is indeed real,in doing so that today has to be a success.I barely slept a wink,at the crack of dawn I decided that I would like to spend some time with Puck these moments together are important in order for her to gain trust within her new mistress.
I’ve never felt this nervous since my wedding day,today meant a great deal to me.After I had taken it upon myself as the Lady of the manor had summoned the entire household for a quick briefing.Yes this is indeed normally not my style but I was at the height of sophistication.Summer fete meant a great deal,I had placed a lot of heart,soul and imagination into this event.Ensuring I had the correct flowers to give ambience of the place,the canapes and souffle was indeed to Mama’s satisfaction.Everything was in place for the dinner dance,the orchestra had begun their rehearsals the familiar haunting sounds sent instant shivers down my spine.Powerful music it can create such different moods the light and the darkness of each individual note.The ballroom looked beautiful the beautiful hexagonal mosaic patterns upon the ceiling,the golden pillars gave it such individual character and the chandelier was a must in all of the houses I’ve lived in constant reminder of home.This will look sublime and breathtaking by candlelight romantic even as it patiently awaits it’s captive audience.

I walked up and down as I addressed the staff as they eagerly waited in line. ‘Now this event is a first for a Peonia Rosa house and an opportunity for Lord Henry and I to step out in society as a married couple and host such a lavish event as this.Today,I want this all to run like clockwork….smooth as possible.As you are all fully aware that the infamous Lady Isabelle Chadwick is invited.By reputation she runs a tight ship everything has to be particular and I intend to do the same.Lady Antoinette is a pussycat compared to her lady Superior.Our reputation as a family and household stand on this.I want each and every one of Lady Chadwick’s needs met.I do not wish her to return to London and taint our good name.Each and every one of you are aware of your individual duties today.If this is indeed a sounding success,then this fete is the start of many amazing things that are about to take plave for the Henry household.This is important to Lord Henry and I as his parents,the Lord and Lady Henry are finally gracing us with their prescence.I refuse to let this go wrong,do not fail me.In doing so will indeed lead to instant dismissal.’ I raised my eyesbrows to increase impact. ‘Are we all clear?’
‘Yes Lady Henry.’
‘Good any questions?’
‘No Lady Henry.’
‘Good,you are all dismissed.’
Nancy entered the room.
‘Lady Henry.’
‘Ah Nancy.’
Nancy curtsied.
‘Nancy you’re a dear friend,do not feel you have to curtsy me whenever you address me.
‘I’m ever so sorry I missed the briefing Es and Ava they….’
‘I completely understand Nancy.’
‘The Lady Isabelle your family,and the rest of the guests have sent word they are hours away.’
‘Thank you Nancy.Where are my children? Bring them to me,I wish to see them.’
‘Yes Lady Henry! Children you may enter.Your Mama wishes a moment with you!’
Esme and Ava ran towards me.
‘Children why aren’t you dressed? Whatever happened to their beautiful white dresses with their adorable matching pink sashes.’
‘Esme got jam all over hers.’ said Ava.
‘Tell tale.’scowled Esme.
‘Yes their was a slight mishap.The little tinkers got a tad over excited at the breakfast table.I thought jam fingerprints looked rather improper.’said Nancy.
‘Quite childlike?’ I humoured them.
‘I thought you might like the have the final decision of what they aught to wear.
‘Very well.’ I sighed. ‘How about the pink one with the daisies on? Or the lemon dresses with spots on? Ava whatever is it?’
‘The pink dress pinches me and my yellow dress with spots on is scratchy.’said Ava.
‘It’s a tough decision to make.I know it’s just a dress but oh Nancy I’m torn.Lady Antoinette requests…no I shall rephrase that she demands my daughters aught to look their best all of the time.Whenever their in polite society I have my own feelings of this.Children aught to be children and are able to wear their dresses.Rolling around in the grass and mud till their hearts content allow them to be young and carefree whilst they still need me.Not to be accustomed to dresses that make them feel uncomfortable.Why they have plenty of time before their body is to be imprisoned to lifetime of ghastly corsets.Though fashion may thankfully change for the better,before they become of age.Am I speaking clearing Nancy?’
‘Yes Lady Henry.’
‘However on this occasion I think their beautiful blue meadow summer dresses,accompanied by their matching bonnets should do just fine.Yes I do find they look like cherubs in those.Es and Ava will have Lady Chadwick eating out of their palm of their hands.One look with their puppy dog eyes and the ice queen will melt.’
‘If wishes where horses Lady Henry?’
‘Would the lady care to have plaits of pigtails for Miss Esme and Miss Ava’s hair?’
‘Oh Nancy,you do not need me to hold your hand for every decision.I trust you will make the right decision.’
I bent down at Esme and Ava’s eye level. ‘Now promise me girls not to get any more jam or honey marks upon these dresses they were a gift from your Gran’Mama Delessop.’
‘I promised.’ smiled Ava.
‘You are good girls.’
‘Come along children.’
‘But Nancy we want to see Mama,we barely see her.’ protested Ava.
‘To dress you will go.I shall take no for an answer leave Mama be.’
‘Thank you Nancy.I’ll see you in the nursery Ava kins.’
‘You always say that and you never come.’ says Ava.
‘Ava Grace,Esme Rose have I ever broken my promise to you?’
Ava reluctantly shook her head.I kissed both of their foreheads in turn. ‘Now come now,stop scowling Ava you will spoil that pretty face of yours.I’ll be with you soon,and if you’re good for Nancy and we have enough time before Gran’Mama and your Aunt’s arrive.You can go and see Puck.’
‘Can we ride her?’
‘Not yet Es,soon sweetie.’

Nancy vacated the room with two rather reluctant children I do not understand since when do Ava and Esme become so ill mannered and petulant? I am so ashamed,Papa will be turning in his grave. I didn’t bring my two girls to be like this? I taught them they should have utmost respect for their parents.I blame Oliver abandoning them for their sudden change of character.He’s certainly exposing his true colours he could have at least made the effort of accepting the invitation for the summer fete? As for Ava saying the words: ‘I always say that?’ Reminded me of the time my sisters and I were forever palmed off by Mama to various Nanny’s.She was so wrapped up in various functions,endless dinner parties and her different acquaintances.I have early memories of her staring in the mirror not giving Mari or I the time of day.She was so absorbed within her own problems,ensuring she looked good she refused to be seen in public without a scrape of make up upon her face.Looking good dressed to impress,with her beautiful dresses squeezed into small corsets to make her waistline look smaller than it actually was.She could barely breathe as her rib cage and torso was crushed in ever so tight.Decked with her glorious diamonds or pearls.Surely I’m not like her? I always have time for my girls.Starting to feel under pressure making sure that I had the right outfit for dinner I shall portray myself as the innocent flower,a classy and yet demure look for the event gala in case Benjamin persuades his songbird of a wife to perform.As well as a beautiful day dress for the fete.Whatever possessed Benjamin to invite that poisonous witch Lady Isabelle Chadwick? He’s fully aware that we don’t see eye to eye.Speak of the devil my beautiful husband greeted me with a tender kiss.
‘My Lord.’
‘Gis I was waiting for you?’
‘I’m sorry?’
‘After our discussing the prospect of having children of our own? Well I’d thought that you and I would make time for one another.It’s been a while since you and I were intimate with one another? I was disappointed Lady Henry to wake up this morning and discover an empty bed?’
‘Benjamin is that all you can think about?’
‘You’re not so keen on the idea are you?’
‘I am.I do.’
‘You do not sound convincing to me?’
‘I have so much to do and so little time Ben.’
‘That is why you have staff,you pay them to do the dirty work?’
‘You know that is not my style? The very prospect of another child is the last thing on my mind.’

Yes indeed he was right,whilst Ben and I were at Verona we had discussed the possible aspect of having our own children.Of course this is what I want,always dreamt of this moment but truth is I’m not ready.Why I haven’t all of a sudden become frigid, I was under the impression that was in the near by distant future.We’ve barely been married for five minutes or time to breathe never mind bring another child into the world.I do hope that he’s not thinking we’re growing apart like he did with Louisa.My marriage to Lord Henry means a great deal,at times I wish we could go back to the start get to know one another properly.After all we where thrown together.

‘Is this your subtle way of saying you’re no longer interested in me?’
‘Shall I rephrase that you indeed no longer love me? Is this how it’s going to be like ever since we returned from Verona you’ve barely wanted me to touch you?’
‘Marriage is not just about intimacy you know Ben.’
‘Marriage changed Louisa and not for the better.As soon as she became Lady Henry she changed before my very eyes from just a girl to a lady who gathered the impression that she was far more superior than everyone else.As time went on she grew hungry for power and couldn’t bare to me near me.’
‘That’s not true she adored you.’
‘Defending her honour are we?’
‘Why must Louisa always come between us?’
‘I saw you earlier in the dining room and I never felt so proud thinking look this is my wife.Then she started giving out instructions? And my heart began to sink instant dismissal? powers finally going to your head isn’t it?’
‘No that’s so not true.’
‘I wanted you last night.’
‘I had no idea.I’m so sorry my love if I become controlling stop me.I always think what what would my Mama my great and almighty Lady Antoinette do? How she would feel I can not let her down.It’s within me to please her,it’s always been that way and what would my Daddy do? Benjamin you must understand if today goes wrong then it will be upon my head.I simply refuse to put a foot wrong today.It’s bad enough that my Mama is coming,but Lady Isabelle Chadwick and your parents too? Lady Chadwick and I do not see eye to eye,she’ll be scrutinising every detail Imagine she will give the estate a full inspection have Rosaline look for cobwebs under the bed I should suspect? My nerves are shot! What if she returns to London and say I’m still the notorious whore who drove her husband away? My darling Rosaline wouldn’t have dreamt of treating Oliver appalingly.She would have treated him with utmost respect and granted him his longed for heir.She has no idea what kind of gentleman I married? He is the man with two faces,the pussy cat for society that make all of the women swoon…As for your parents? I have your beautiful sister Ana on my side ever faithful to fight my battles.Your father is tolerable I suppose,your brother Arthur is a lech.’
‘I’m sorry if the truth hurts Benjamin but after hearing those stories…I do not want him anywhere near Evangaline she’s mortified….feels she lowered herself to his tone.As for your Mother lady Darcie she doesn’t deserve my time of day.I do not trust her Benjamin she appears to be all smiles but behind your back she’s sharpening her talon’s….I’m convinced she has a vendetta against us.’
‘Don’t be so absurd.’
‘Twas true she was all sweetness and life the day I first met her on your wedding day to Louisa.But ever since it became public knowledge that you and I were together she can not deal with this sudden change.She will be a perfect ally to Lady Chadwick constantly judging our new life,comparing me to your perfect little wifey Louisa oh Benjamin darling Louisa was the sweet and perfect innocent flower why did he leave you? For corrupt Lady Gisele Delessop?’
‘All of my life Mama and I have constantly locked horns you have nothing to prove to them.You are my wife,you have nothing to prove to them.Why it should be them trying to win over your affection.’
‘One look at you,my true love of course I want to have your children it’s just earlier I had a slight disagreement with Ava she was complaining about her dresses I mean she’s almost five for heavens sake.Es and Ava are just children they’re already starting to sound like Evangaline and Holly.’
‘Ava’s wise beyond her years.’
‘I’m scared that every day I’m losing her,and as for a baby it would mean the world to me to have a small piece of you in my life.I’m just terrified.’
‘Gis you don’t have to explain to me.’
‘Visions of night terrors,constantly staring at the crib praying that history won’t repeat itself.’
‘I won’t let it happen,our baby won’t be William.’
‘How can you say such a thing?’
‘I was just trying to put your mind at rest.’
‘…The baby won’t be able to breathe as their Mama is constantly trying to put him or she checking for their heartbeart or a pulse.Don’t you understand they’ll be no rest Benjamin.’
‘We will take it one step at a time,I’m not prepared to throw the gauntlet down and admit defeat.Now my fair lady where do I stand on the grande scheme of things? Hold Lady Antoinette’s parasol to shield her from the sun? Look longingly into your mysterious eyes and feed my beautiful wife strawberries during our fete? Entertain your dear friend Daniel with a round of clay pigeon shooting? Amuse your sister’s during a game of croquet?’
‘Ensure that Lady Antoinette’s champagne flute is flowing at all times,smile in the appropriate places…portray myself in a heavenly light.’
‘Is that all?’
‘Ensure I keep my distance from Lady Isabelle and her slip of a daughter who I’m sure is pining for my former husband,you stand there Benjamin keep her sweet and look pretty oh beloved of mine.’ I patted him fondly upon his shoulder before bestowing a kiss upon his cheek.
A little while later Lady Isabelle Chadwick was about to make her grande entrance,in order to give the Ladyship a warm welcoming and trick her into a false sense of security.I ensured that the whole of the household staff were lined up in an orderly fashion.Nancy bless her heart was ever so nervous,she was determined to please her Ladyship and not put a foot wrong today.
‘Gisele you look as white as a sheet?’
‘I’m perfectly fine my Lord.Nancy bless her cotton socks,standing there she looks as nervous as I feel.’
‘The truth is I overheard her speak to one of the maids.She’s afraid to fail you,since her Ladyship mentioned instant dismissal? I caught her practicing her curtsying in the drawing room and word says she’s been receiving elocution lessons.’
‘Why would she do that?’
‘She has grown to feel that certain members of this household do not take her seriously?’
‘So she may be clumsy at times and speak out of turn….but I would never dismiss her.She is warm and kind hearted Esme and Ava have grown attached to her.Nancy’s family now.’

Lady Chadwick likes to travel in style,as all the guests have made their way to tour the grounds and the house Lady Isabelle’s automobile pulled up.
‘My my Lady Chadwick likes to make a grande entrance that’s one of the finest of automobile craftsman ship it’s a Chevrolet….’
‘Hush now.’ I smiled sweetly.’There’s nothing wrong with travelling by horse and not polluting the air.’
Her footman opened the door.
‘Thank you Grayson.Come along now Rosaline.’
‘I do not know why we are here? It’s not like Lord Oliver will be here?’
‘Rosaline I’m afraid that ship has sailed? You had plenty of opportunities before that vile Delessop swooped in and snared her prey? Do not allow this little set back to get to you,you’re a beautiful lady and have a whole lot of potential if you ooze such charm then the gentleman will flock.But not today.’
‘Lady Chadwick,we are not here to find you a suitable husband? Sometimes you can be a weight around my neck why must I always fight you’re battles? One day you will be the death of me!’ whispered Lady Chadwick in disgust.
‘But Mama?’
‘Not everything is about you,now we have a duty to London society don’t you understand daughter of mine? Why they are depending on us to report back every little detail.
Her Ladyship strolled towards us,
‘Make eye contact at all times.’
‘Take your time….I’m surprised you haven’t got doves or peacock’s parading up and down upon a beautiful red carpet? Going out all pomp and circumstance to greet her?’
‘Shh Benjamin.’ I elbowed him.
‘I see she hasn’t changed one single bit?’ sneered Lady Antoinette. Scrutinising every little detail?’
‘Hello to you too Mama?’
‘Oh for heaven sake Gisele do not slouch….and I see you invited that frightful Lara?’
‘Nancy who is this horrid Lady?’ asked Ava.
‘That is Lady Isabelle Chadwick.’ smiled Nancy.
‘Is that the witch Mama doesn’t like?’ laughs Esme.
‘I have you know Esme the Lady Chadwick is a well known and respected woman of London society.Why she is one of your Gran’Mama’s dear friends.So please keep your opinions to yourself.’
Ava whispered in Nancy’s ear. ‘She doesn’t smile very much?’
I looked at Benjamin. ‘I’m sorry did I say something wrong?’
‘I beg to differ?’
‘You’ve lost me?’
‘You’re last remark to Ava,asking her to keep her opinions to herself…she’s just a child.They both are.’
‘There not to know Lady Chadwick is a vile woman who would nothing better than seeing my downfall.Why she would have nothing but a smile upon her face and a case of self satisfaction to see me suffer in a burning building.She wouldn’t go out of her way to rescue me and I’d dare say the feelings mutual.Today I am going to put all of my ill feelings aside.Give her the impression that I’ve a good heart and quite the lady of the manor.’
‘You have nothing to prove to me you have a pure heart.’
‘I know,just you’re my husband and I understand it’s your duty to say those words.Es and Ava are bright and intelligent beyond their years I shall allow them to make a judgement of Isabelle’s character for themselves? I’ve moved on,I do not hold grudges.’
And quite right too,my Papa the late great Lord William has taught me a lesson I value to this day smile Gisele humour them as though their the only important person in the room,smile and yes Gisele even at the evil dragon Lady.’ This is my stage,I will charm the beast of a woman until she’s eating out of the palm of my hand.Make Mama ever so proud and she can return to London happy and content.
I shall paint a mask upon her face ,no matter how much I detest the Lady after all she was the one who planted the seed of jealously into my former husband’s head she was the one who publically violated me and pushed me into commiting the sin of falling in love with Benjamin.Today I am to give the impression to Esme and Ava,that their mother is a sweet serene peacemaker offering an olive branch of friendship.If Holly overheard she may feel that her sister has softened in her old age.I shall catch a moment with cook have a quiet word in her ear,kindly giving her permission to discreetly spit in her Majesty’s soup. ‘
‘Lady Gisele that’s a hanging offence?’
‘My sister Holly has been given the impression that her impish nymph of a sister has vanished and transformed into a dull little wifey under your thumb since you placed that ring upon my finger.You may have tamed me oh hsband of mine but I shall ever thrive in my wicked little schemes.’
‘There isn’t a wicked bone in your body?’
Esme looked towards the delightful Lady Rosaline. ‘Why is that girl sad?’
‘She looks like she’s sat on a pin cushion and it’s got up her bottom.’ said Ava.
‘That Esme is her daughter the precious little princess Rosaline.’ I added. ‘Lady Rosaline doesn’t like your Mammy as I selfishly stole your Daddy away from the spoilt little rich girl.She spends her days wallowing in self pity looking in her spoon gazing at her reflection as though it’s her magic mirror.Ever cursing the day that I was born.’
‘Is Lady Chadwick’s daughter Snow White?’ asked Ava.
‘No sweet heart.’ said Lord Henry. ‘Mama refers to her as the wicked step queen.’
‘More like the poisoned dwarf.If you married her then alas it would have lasted a short space of time.Your little wifey kins would have compared you to the love she lost forever.Now my dear daughters Esme,Ava today is extremely important to your father and I your role is to melt the cold queen’s heart,smile and curtsy.Remain polite and courteous throughout.Charm then with your wit.Serenade them with your angelic little voices.But for heaven’s sake Ava I forbid you to place any rodent kind upon the table.I still carry the scars of that very day.Or Esme do not place paw prints that resembles honey or jam.Upon her Ladyship or it will be off with your head young lady.’
‘Your Mama’s kidding on the last part.’reassures Lord Henry. He turned and looked at me. ‘Rodent kind?’
‘Long story.’

Yes indeed it was whilst Lord Rickman and I were married we had paid a little visit to Lady Chadwick’s Estate,all of the family were there.It was after all of this horrendous business had become public and I no longer had to hide.Oliver and I were back together,I never felt so alive.Champagne was in full flow,dinner was divine.The warm feeling had finally returned to my heart nice to spend time with my sister’s again and I was secretly pleased to be reunited with my one true secret love Carl.
‘I’m so sorry.’ Carl discreetly placed his hand upon my thigh.
‘You’re heart is bleeding I know but…’
‘I do not wish to speak of my misfortune.’
‘Please do not push me away,you’re aware of my feelings….’
‘Yes I am perfectly aware of you’re feelings but please stop suffocating me.’
‘Gisele nothing,I’m married to Oliver and I love him.’
‘Are we quarrelling?’
‘Carl I’m a fragile soul after escaping from Jack….I’m ever so tired after my journey here and quite frankly you’re charm and wit to entice me into your bed is growing ever so tiresome.’
‘That wasn’t my intention to…’
‘I just to lose myself in the quality of good conversation,fine wine and to spend some time with my daughters.Is that too much to ask?’
‘Unbeknown to Carl and I,Holly and Ava had discreetly slipped out.I didn’t realise until after after a few hours later,main course had been served and their was deadly silence around the dinner table.No longer a sign of Ava’s protests.I ran out of the room.
‘Ever the dramatic one.’ sighed Lady Chadwick.

It was beginning to get dark,my heart was beating out of my chest.I just kept running and running.Images flashing through my head what if Jack had came into the feast unknown to us and abducted Ava and she’s now dead in a ditch? Unbeknown I had been followed,fearing for my life.I ran fast and faster.
‘Wait up!’ yelled Carl.
‘Carl leave me alone!’
‘Stop!’ He took hold of my wrist.
‘Take your hands off me.’
‘It’s my only way of reasoning with you Gis.You’re running away from me like a spring gazelle.Please Gis…’
‘How dare you toy with my emotions Carl Casey.’
I took hold of the bottom of my dress and ran along breathless. ‘Carl this is all of your fault!’
He was finding it extremely difficult to keep up with my pace.
‘Let’s think through this logically.’
‘We haven’t the timme on our hands Carl.’
‘She can’t have gone far?’
‘I took my eye off the ball for one split second….I missed you Carl.My lovely Carl and I felt like a love struck fool once.I wanted you Carl,I longed to be close to you,the feel of your touch.There I admit it,and because of my true emotions rising to the surface I put the welfare of my daughter in jeopardy.I never noticed Ava slip out of the room? Normally she’s ever so good and asks for my permission to vacate the room never mind the grounds.I feel sick Carl.Jack must have taken her.’
‘Gisele calm down!’
‘Calm down! She could by lying dead in a ditch somewhere.’
‘We will find her.’ He took me into his arms. ‘You trust me don’t you?’ He kissed my forehead. ‘Oh Carl how am I going to ever find it in my heart for telling Oliver the truth of our daughter’s death.I’m ever so sorry darling,your wife was starting to have intense feelings for her first lover she never saw her slip through her fingers.I have my daughter’s blood upon my hands.’
Out of the corner of Carl’s eye he noticed a figure walking towards us. ‘It may not come to that my Lady.’
‘Please don’t feel as though you need to spare my feelings.’
‘No Lady Rickman I beg of you to look into the distance.’
‘Ava!’ I called out.
I noticed that Holly was with her,she was looking so cool and calm.I was so relieved to see her safe and sound.Holly was smiling like a cheshire cat as if nothing had happened.She had no inclination of the hell I was going through.’
Anger took control over my body I slapped Holly. ‘Don’t you ever do that to me again!’
‘Ava said she told you that you knew she was with me.’
‘You believe a little girl.She’s just a child Holly! You’re perfectly aware of my feelings? Jack could have abducted her!’
‘Don’t be so dramatic! Ava is not his daughter,if he had a point to prove then surely he would have taken Esme!’

After our choice words,we had her safe and sound back in the safety of Lady Chadwick’s estate.Unbeknown to her Mama after being caught up in all of this drama and excitement.She’d taken pity upon a very timid cold and frightened little mouse.Ava called her Immy,the first time I became aware of my devious daughters deception.Was out of the corner of my eye.I noticed an outline scurrying by.Innocently making a bee line for Lady Chadwick’s dessert.Rather than raising the alarm and screaming mouse and Holly couldn’t contain herself,I quietly and casually demanded that she should immediately leave the dinner table and safely disguard Immy.
After sharing this story with Lord Henry he tipped his head back and chuckled. ‘Ava’s quite a pistol?’
‘Oh I can handle my daughter perfectly well you mark my words.That’s not what I’m worried about.I do hope she doesn’t speak out of turn and tell a few home truths?’
‘Hmm…I wonder who she reminds you of?’ He kissed my hand. ‘Relax my beautiful Bella donna,trust me everything will be all right.You have my word.’

She cleared her throat,my husband boldly addressed her Ladyship. ‘Lord Benjamin Henry,on behalf of my beautiful Lady wife and I we’d like to give you a warm welcome to our humble abode Peonia rosa.’
She raised her hand to silence Lord Henry. ‘Yes,I do know who you are?’ She raised her eye brows as she said this. ‘Forgive me I did not accept your invitation for you to bore me to death in your Lord of the manor routine.Or to engage in warm sentiments.Why you must clearly see my motives? I came to see if this great Peonia rosa is of grande scale and wonder? That they speak of in London?’
She started to examine the rose bushes. ‘These rose bushes.’
‘Ah yes they were a wedding present…’ I began.
‘I see…they have a lot to be desired? All shrivelled and broken in parts? Like your first marriage.I hope this neglect isn’t a true reflection upon your sad and sorry marriage Lady Henry? I’m not here to stand here and waste time. In fact quite the opposite,I demand a grande tour.’
And with that Lady Chadwick rudely brushed. ‘Come along Rosaline.’
‘But Mama nothing,I haven’t got all day to spend breathing in the same air as these peasants.’

‘The nerve of her? Peasants? How dare she!’
I was about to say something but Lord Henry managed to hold me back.
‘What would you’re Papa say?’
‘She has the cheek to judge us.Lady Isabelle is no better than the rest of us?’
‘Rise above it my love,smile after all it’s just for one day?’
We began with a tour circling the grounds,at this very point Lady Isabelle was feeling ever so delicate and was getting fanned whilst her lap dog of a daughter saw to her every needs.Obediently held a parasol to give her the correct shade sunshine balance.Mama at this point opted to stay indoors.My how convenient opting to keep an eye on proceedings inside.Times like this I could do with Mama to spare me from Lady Isabelle’s acid tongue.
‘This Lady Chadwick is the beautiful grounds of Peonia rosa.’
‘Is that all?’
‘Esme and Ava find them quite enchanting.’ I piped up.
‘Some might find them tolerable I suppose.’
‘Later on,we shall have tea strawberries and cream cakes upon the lawn.’
‘Does that activity include everyone?’
‘The ladies of course.’I continued. ‘Whilst the gentleman will embark in a traditional and family friendly game of cricket.’
‘What is that ghastly thing over there?’ Lady Isabelle curled up her nose in disgust.
‘That is a water feature my Lady,one of the finest in Italy.I feel it brings character.’
‘Believe what you like Lord Henry… Why it doesn’t bring out character to the garden it’s just an inconvenience! I’m surprised that Mr Davernport didn’t consider this?’
‘I have you know it was my idea.’ I said under my breathe.
‘Bite your tongue and say no more my love.’
‘How dare you talk to me in such an impertinent manner.’
I bit my lip before I said another word.
‘Oh do not bite your lip Gisele it isn’t at all healthy for one to do such a thing.’ She casually fanned herself. ‘And how can you cope in such terrible conditions?’
‘I cope with the heat perfectly well,maybe it’s your age.’ I said slyly under my breathe.
‘Enough! I’m growing rather impatient and ever so weary with all this idol conversation! My daughter and I demand a spot of tea in the drawing room.Earl Grey none of your usual nonsense.My daughter and I deserve the finest things in life.Then we shall see to the interior.’
‘Yes my Lady.’
‘Lord Henry,I request you ask that the arcitecht is present.’
‘I shall Mr Davernport will be honoured to have his input on the tour.’
‘No you do not understand I would like Mr Davernport to conduct the tour…not you.’
‘Your wish is my command Lady Chadwick.’

I felt so sorry for Benjamin witnessing him being squashed by Lady Isabelle as though he’s an insect,how I admire him for taking it with such grace and dignity.Picture it if you will? A familiar scene that I once witnessed in London once upon a time.Daniel Tom Lord Henry and his father trying ever so hard to hold onto their gentleman pride.Playing a friendly game of cricket.Whilst their wives looked on armed with the finest strawberries in the land.Clara one of the servants were attending to our every needs handing out fresh cream scones and tea.The children playing with Holly and their kite.It was so lovely to see them all together at long last with Sophia and Daniel’s beautiful angel Nicole and Reinette and Tom’s ray of sunshine Lucille.Sophia is ever so doting with Nicole how it breaks my heart that she’s unable to bare any more children.I look to Es and Ava so young and carefree and I count my lucky stars how my misfortune hasn’t had an effect on them.The sunkissed sun was shining upon this oh so perfect day.Lady Darcie Henry,was on friendly terms for the time being.Lady Isabelle is doing her utmost to break me.She may have the personality of a venemous snake in position,eager to make her next move.
All morning whilst Tom was giving the grande tour to her grace.Rather than praising the arcitecht by saying it’s a vision of beauty Mr Davernport.She delighted in finding imperfections with the character of the place.
‘I think the architechture is sublime,Peonia rosa is surely unique…stands out from Serenity Estate New Dawn and the rest of the projects I’ve worked on…’
‘I’m sorry Mr Davernport,but you’re sadly mistaken,the architechture and scope of the place is terrible.I’d be ashamed to associated with this place.’ ‘Oh Lady Henry,this room is oh so dark. and ‘What where you thinking of? A Billiards Room? Are you reducing yourself to turning your home into a gentleman’s club?’ or ‘The curtains you have chosen,is as though you’re in mourning? Are you still pining for your Carl? What will Lord Henry think of this?’ ‘What were you going for? The pillars,it does nothing for the scope….nothing compliments this room.It’s taking the life away from your mosaic ceiling.’ All of these snide remarks came my way,and I had no other choice but to smile politely as Lady Isabelle watched Tom squirm,as he battled in vein to safe grace.As for Lady Rosaline,the ice princess it’s jealously on her part.Envious of how my prevention of her engagement to Lord Rickman has made her unable to escape the clutches of her Mama.Endless question after question.I feel as though I can’t breathe.
‘-And as for the Greek style pattern? It would make Medusa herself turn to stone?’
My my my,I’ve heard it all Lady Isabelle is enraptured by the complicated and yet so beautiful Greek mythology of impossible creaturs that taken a hold upon my husband’s interest.I dare say she resembles the poisoned gorgon.If only I could cut off her head.Like the hero Perseus did,but no Gis,you must stop those impure thoughts.Instead of raising to her toxic bait.I once again smiled so sweetly and said.
‘Oh it’s still in it’s early stages,Lord Henry and I are still searching for our correct visions of the estate and with the guidance of Mr Davernport steering us in the right path,rest assured we will be able to achieve this.’
‘Such a beautiful estate?’ enthused Sophia.’You’re husband has worked wonders Reinette.’
‘It’s such a shame Medusa doesn’t have the same mutual agreement upon this.’
‘You’ve lost me?’ replied Reinette.
‘It’s our little pet name for my dear friend Lady Chadwick.’
‘Her barks worse than her bite?’ reassured Sophia.
‘I see Lady Darcie’s keeping her distance?’ tutted Evangaline.
‘Mama’s a pussycat really.’ said Lady Ana.
‘I’d hate to meet her in a darkened alleyway.’ said Marianna.
‘Any news of the delightful Colonel.’ I enquired after the man who once upon a time spoke of his intentions towards my sister.Trying as I might to change the subject.
‘Colonel Clarkson took me to his grounds and I kept to my word that I’d learn how to ride.’ blushed Evangaline.
‘Evangaline is playing her cards ever so close to her chest.’
‘I’ve grown bored of waiting around. I get the impression that I’m doing all of the pursuing…’
‘Now that is a grave mistake Lady Evangaline.Always allow the man in question to do the chasing.It’s a Delessop custom to be wooed and loved….’
‘I’m not sure if I’m fond of him.Holly said I aught to throw him over.’
‘Tell me do you do everything Holly says?’ asks Marianna.
‘If Holly asked you to jump off a cliff would you? Or consider if she asked you to drink champagne laced with poison would you take that deadly drink from the flute if her life depended upon it?’
‘Now that is silly!’
‘I rest my case.’

Daniel threw the ball,as Lord Henry struck the winning ball.He moved with such elegance and grace.Daniel childishly threw his bat upon the grass.
‘Bad form old chap!’ shouted Lord Henry.
‘Look your Daddy’s taken a strop.’ laughed Holly.
‘Aunt Holly keep still with the kite!’ demanded Ava.
‘Yes my Lady,honestly Ava you’re just like your Mama.’
Lord Henry and the others walked towards us. Sophia greeted Daniel with a kiss.
‘My husband ever the sore loser?’ smiles Sophia fondly.
‘My hero?’ I mocked him as Lord Henry walked towards me.
‘Rule number one,never involve Daniel in a game of cricket.’ laughed Tom.
‘Lady Henry,you’re husband aught to learn the art of not cheating?’
‘Duly noted thank you Daniel I shall bare that in mind.’
‘Gisele,I have someone who’s eager to see you again.’
‘I do hope that this isn’t ill timing?
‘Lara? ‘
‘It’s Lady Holmes now.’
‘Sir Holmes?’
‘Good day to you Lady Henry, surprised to see me?’


4 thoughts on “Chapter 18

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