The Gardener's Daughter

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Chapter 36

Violet lay on her bed wondering why everything had gone quiet downstairs. She heard footsteps approaching and then a wheezing sound outside her door as Mrs Salt tried to get her breath back before entering to say her piece.

She pushed the door open and looked at Violet

“You’d better get your things packed up as soon as possible.” She commanded “you are to return home tonight.”

Violet stared at her

“Come on, girl!” she repeated “You need to be ready to leave tonight.”

“But why?” she asked

“I think you know why.” Mrs Salt replied with disapproval in her voice.

“But what is to become of me?” she was crying now

“Maybe you should have considered that before messing around with the son of the house.”

Seeing her distress Mrs Salt softened a little

“You will go back to your parents until Lord Dearing makes arrangements for you to go to your new employers.”

Violet cried even harder, pressing her face into her thin pillow.

“I have heard that it is to be Mr Dickinson, the owner of the glassworks. He has been asking around for a maid for his wife and daughter. I’m sure that they will prove good and fair employers.”

Mrs Salt started to bustle around the room, picking up Violet’s few possessions and putting them into a canvas bag that was under the bed.

“Can I say goodbye to Lottie?”

“Well, I will send her up to help you.” Mrs Salt said kindly. “I do wish you well, my dear.”

With that she left the room and could be heard making her way laboriously down the stairs.

Violet tried to drag herself off the bed and look around the room to see what belonged to her. It wouldn’t take long to pack up her worldly goods, there was very little in this world that she owned. She thought about her most precious possession, the notebook that David had given her. She realised with a jolt that she did not even have that. Maybe he would find a way to see her and give it back to her.

Lottie came in quietly and saw Violet sitting there on the floor. She put her arms around her and gave her a hug.

“Will I ever see you again?”

“Of course!” Violet tried to reassure her. “I’ll see you in church and you can come over and visit my parents on the occasional Sunday.”

Lottie nodded wordlessly, not knowing what to say. There was so much they wanted to say to each other but there was no time. Lottie did not ask her anything about David or the circumstances of her departure.

“I’m sorry I have to leave you like this” Violet said sadly

Lottie hugged her again and dragged the bag over to the door.

Violet’s father was waiting for her in the kitchen. She said goodbye to Katie and Polly who stood by the door watching her as walked out over the lawns towards the path that led to their cottage.

“I don’t know what I am going to say to your mother” was the only thing her father said all the way home. Violet remained silent, miserable, burning with shame and lost in thought.

Daisy was delighted to see her, but she was the only one. She was even happier when she found that Violet would be sharing her bed.

“Why aren’t you sleeping at the House now? She asked innocently.

“I am going to start a new job” Violet told her, trying to sound cheerful “with much better wages. I’ll buy you something nice with my first pennies!”

Daisy squealed with delight and helped Violet put her clothes into their tiny room.

Later, when Daisy was in bed she put her wages on the table in front of her mother.

“I am sorry, mother.” She said “I never meant to bring any trouble to the family.”

“I don’t know what you were playing at” her mother scolded. “I blame your father, he always let you have far too much freedom, putting such ideas into your head!”

Her father looked at her and Violet smiled at him. Any further conversation was halted by an urgent knocking at the door. Mr Dean got up to open it.

“May I speak to Violet?”

Violet’s heart stopped for a second as she saw the shape of a man at the door, he was wrapped in a cloak,

“David?”

She rushed past her father, to see Edgar standing there. Her heart sank once more and she turned away.

“Do you wish to speak to this young man?” her father asked her. “I won’t have you left alone though.”

“It is alright” said Violet, “I won’t be a minute.”

She stepped outside and closed the door on her family.

“What is it you want?” she asked Edgar wearily

“Is that anyway to treat a friend?” he asked

“You still want to know me?” she asked “After my dismissal in disgrace?”

“I knew you were different!” he said “but I didn’t realise how different.”

“You heard what happened?”

“I heard something from Lottie, but it was so garbled I had to know the truth from you. Tell me that he did not force you to do anything against your will!”

He looked as if he would like to kill someone, anyone, who did that.

“No, no!” She sighed heavily. “I don’t know what to say.” she hesitated “You know that we have been working together, we just love each other’s company. It grew from that, he respects me.”

“Well for what it is worth, I do not blame him for liking you.” He managed to get a smile from her “Is there anything I can do to help?”

“You are willing to help me, even though you know what happened?”

“Well, anything to smooth the path of true love.”

She looked at him, wondering if she could trust him. He just looked her straight in the eyes and grinned.

“Could you get a message to David for me?” she asked tentatively “without anyone else finding out, especially my father?”

“Of course” he said “I know that he will be in the garden sometime tomorrow. I can track him down for you.”

“I just need to see him once, before I am sent away.” She said “Do you think you could ask him to meet me somewhere tomorrow?”

“I will do what I can” Edgar bowed and left her standing in the doorway. She thought that maybe he was going to prove a true friend.

“Thank-you!” she called after him. He turned to wave then sprinted off again down the pathway.

She spent the rest of the evening helping her mother round the house and trying to avoid answering any of her questions. Only when she was in bed, sure that Daisy was sound asleep by her side, did she allow herself think of David. She veered from euphoria when reliving their precious moments together in the Orangery to despair at the way things changed so quickly. Her tears felt hot as they flowed, and she could not see how this could ever have a happy conclusion for either of them.

Could he be happy if he married Caroline? Would he forget her in time? She knew for sure that she could never forget him and she vowed that she would never marry, if she could not have him. No one else would ever make her feel this way again.

She was upset too about her work. She found that thought of being caged indoors as a full-time maid again unbearable. She worried about the gardens at The Grange; she would miss being allowed to be involved with their design and planning. She felt all her ideas for new features and for her ornamental cases would come to nothing. If she couldn’t see David and she couldn’t do something she loved, what was the point of living?

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