The Gardener's Daughter

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Chapter 42

Christmas plans were being made at Trinity House too, although on a much more modest scale. Mr Dickinson’s widowed mother was coming to stay with them and Lucy had asked if Daisy could come to visit on Christmas Eve as she had been over to the cottage with Violet several times now.

“Well of course she can, dear” her mother told her. “I will see to it that Violet asks her and then she can stay for lunch, with your grandmother too as she’ll be arriving that day.

Lucy jumped up and down with glee.

Daisy had exactly the same reaction when Violet told her of the invitation.

“Oh no darling, you can’t go” her mother interrupted “You don’t have anything to wear at such a grand place!”

“But mother” Violet pleaded on her behalf “They aren’t grand at all. They are a very ordinary family. They won’t expect Daisy to arrive in a party frock!”

“I won’t be looked down on because we can’t afford nice clothes” she was adamant.

Violet confided her mother’s fears to Celia that evening, after Lucy had gone to bed.

“Is Daisy of a similar size to our Lucy?” she asked her

“No she’s a little smaller actually, she is only seven now.”

“Well the solution is simple then” she laughed “I was going to get rid of some of Lucy’s clothes, there are at least three dresses she can’t fit into anymore. Why don’t you take them over for Daisy to try? They are far too good to turn into dusters!”

“Are you sure?” asked Violet

“Of course, my dear. You have been so good to Lucy and she loves Daisy so much. They may need altering, mind” she continued

“Well that is fine as my mother is a very good seamstress.”

The next day Violet returned to the cottage with the dresses and asked her mother is she thought she could adapt them to fit Daisy.

“Otherwise they’ll only be turned into cleaning rags!” she told her

“That would be a shame” her mother said “Just look at these fine materials, and the colours…oh, they are beautiful! Doesn’t she want paying for them?”

“They owe me extra wages for the times I have spent helping Lucy with her reading.” Violet told her “So it is all taken care of.”

Daisy was ordered to try on the first one, a pink and white stripped fine cotton tunic with a white frilled blouse underneath. She stood on the kitchen table as her mother carefully pinned up the hem to the right length for her. She was so excited she could hardly keep still. It was only when she got a pin stuck in her leg through excessive fidgeting did she calm down a little and allow the mother to finish her work.

“Will it be ready in time for Christmas?” she asked her

“Well, we’ll have to wait and see won’t we?”

Daisy was beside herself at the thought of visiting such a big house and having lunch with her friend.

“Does she have any hens?” she asked Violet

“No she doesn’t have any hens,” she smiled “but she does have a very sweet little kitten called Cleo.”

“Does it live in the garden?”

“No it lives indoors with the family, sleeps in a basket in the kitchen and it wears a little red collar with a bell on it!”

Daisy was open-mouthed with delight as Violet told her about Lucy’s room and the big doll’s house that she may even be allowed to play with, if she was very careful.

Violet caught sight of her mother’s face as she listened to them prattle on, while she sat sewing by the firelight. She looked sad and Violet knew that Daisy would not be getting presents anywhere near so grand on Christmas day.

She may get an apple and some hazelnuts from the tree out the back and maybe a wooden toy her father had carved for her and some handkerchiefs embroidered by her mother. Violet knew that whatever they gave her, Daisy would be happy with and the fact that they would be together on the day, and maybe even visited by Rose and Iris, would make it very special.

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