The Gardener's Daughter

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Chapter 25

The air was turning chillier as she gratefully breathed deeply and walked happily through the grass and over towards the glass houses. The house martins were gathering en masse in the oak trees ready for their migration. Violet wondered how it would feel to be able to flee the cold, bitter weather and spend the winter months chasing the sun.

She found her father tending to the cabbage patch while instructing two of his staff on the rebuilding of the dry stone wall that kept the kitchen garden sheltered from the worst of the winter weather. They had even successfully grown some varieties of grapes up against the wall of the house, due to its sunny position and sheltered aspect.

Violet told him that she had been appointed go-between whilst Master David was confined to bed and would pass on his requests to him. Her father nodded as she excitedly told him of David’s immediate concerns.

“Oh I checked on the seedlings yesterday and saw they were being taken care of, I thought it must have been Peter or Edgar”

The mention of Edgar reminded Violet of her promise to him. She groaned, that was the last thing she wanted.

“Who is Edgar, father?”

“You remember that the Head Gardener before me was dismissed?”

“Old Elijah? Yes, didn’t he get drunk and ruin the harvest one year?”

“Yes, I believe it was something like that. Well, Edgar is his son.”

Violet’s heart sank.

“Are you sure he can be trusted?”

“Well, I don’t believe in punishing him for his father’s sins and anyway, he is showing great promise. He has been working very hard. He seems to have some natural ability too.”

“Good,” said Violet “because he is taking me out on Sunday.”

Her father looked shocked.

“My goodness!” he exclaimed “Your mother will be relieved. She thought that you would never get married!”

“Married!” Violet was horrified, “I am most certainly not getting married.”

Her father chuckled to himself.

She left it there, as she didn’t want to have to explain the circumstances of her promise to Edgar to her father.”

“Anyway,” she continued. “It was me who was pricking out the seedlings. I noticed that they were being neglected and now I know it was because Master David was ill”

She blushed as she mentioned his name and her father looked sharply at her.

“Take care, Violet.” He warned “The sons of nobility sometimes think they can take advantage of poor servants. Don’t be taken in by any promises he might make you. You know that there can be nothing between you except work and wages”

Violet looked uncomfortable as she tried to reassure her father that nothing of the sort would ever happen and that the only reason that she was so happy was because she had escaped for a short space of time from the drudgery of life below stairs.

“When Edgar calls, invite him in to meet me and your mother, then”

Violet promised that she would and set off back for the house.

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