When David had got ready to meet Violet and had come downstairs at The Grange he’d seen George was in the hallway with his trunk packed, waiting for his carriage.
“Where are you going?” he asked his cousin in dismay
“I’m going home” he replied, “It is plain to see that I am no longer welcome here.”
“That is nonsense, come on, stay a little longer.” He tried to persuade him
“No, I’m sorry. I’ve sent word to mama that I am to return today, so I will have to go now,”
David looked at him sadly and could see he was not going to change his mind.
“George, we’ve always been good friends, let’s not part like this” he pleaded. “I am sorry for the misunderstandings over the last few days.”
George wavered a little and then slapped his cousin on his arm.
“Tell you what then” he said at last “How about if you invite me, mama and Emma for Christmas. It won’t be the same at home without papa. It would be better for mama in particular, not to be reminded of that.”
“Of course” he said fondly “I will ask my parents and I will get them to write to your mother.”
“Good, that’s settled then. My carriage awaits!” he turned to go
“You do know that Caroline and the Fitzroys will be here too though?” he asked him
“They will? Well, the more the merrier I always say!” He laughed as he wrapped his heavy cloak around him and went down the grand front steps to the waiting carriage below. The horses stood shaking their manes anxious to get moving.
“See you at Christmas then!” he called after him as he climbed aboard and sped off down the gravel driveway.
David went back inside to the warmth of the house to gwt his greatcoat when his father’s study door opened.
“David, get in here – I need to talk to you”
I’m just on my way out – can I come and see you later?”
“Now” his father bellowed and walked back into his study, David dutifully followed.
He apologised to Lord Dearing for his recent behaviour and the trouble he had been causing and asked if he could show him the plans for his next trip overseas.
Lord Dearing was pleased to see his son almost back to normal but before he could enjoy a discussion about his gardens and their future as he needed to be clear about something else first.
“I have to know what you intentions are now towards Caroline Fitzroy. I cannot have her entire family here for Christmas if you refuse to even consider an engagement.”
“I know, papa.” David said “If she agrees to come and stay then I will ask her father if I may have her hand in marriage. After I have asked her first, of course. I am not really sure of her mind in this matter.”
“Well, she is not going to refuse you, dear boy!” his father said happily.
“It will be entirely up to her” David sighed as he contemplated the prospect of marriage to her, someone he didn’t love.
“Very well I will have an invitation drawn up and sent at once. No going back this time though!” he warned him. “I will not have this family’s name made a fool of or dragged through the mud. There will be no more voyages until you are happily married and settled here with your new wife.”
David looked at his shoes. Then he looked his father in the eye. “But, I have been planning the new journey for the Spring – it’s the best time to sail for the Orient! I need to pay for the ship and crew before then, and get more new cases made to bring the specimens back in good health.”
“Better get a move on then, boy – I won’t release any funds until I am sure that you will marry Caroline”
“I will make this binding promise to you - if Caroline says yes – then I will marry her.”
His father smiled again, looking a little more relaxed.
“Right then, fetch me your plans then and let’s see what needs to be done. Although weddings are very expensive – you can’t go spending all my money on your holidays anymore!”
David left the room to go to the Conservatory where he had laid the plans out. He looked again at the cases that Violet had been so proud of. He could not wait to set sail again on another plant-hunting mission, and test them out. However, he had a few things to sort out before then. Those plans could wait just a little longer.
He returned to his father with the plans, fretting about missing his rendezvous with Violet. He would have to try to find a reason to go over to see her somehow.