The Gardener's Daughter

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Chapter 46

Violet was finishing clearing away the lunch dishes while Celia settled down to her embroidery. She was watching over Lucy who was starting a sampler, under her mother’s beady eye.

“No!” she cried “That cross stitch is far too big. Small stitches!”

“But mama, this is too hard. I don’t like it!” she moaned

Violet looked over at the little girl. She could sympathise, she had hated sewing too.

“What do you like, Lucy?” asked Violet “Shall we practice your times tables instead?”

Lucy groaned again.

“I can’t remember the eight times table” she moaned “Mrs French is going to test us again next week.”

“What is your favourite lesson?” Violet asked her.

She thought for a moment and then smiling said “Singing!”

“What are you learning to sing?”

“Greensleeves” she replied and then she launched into song

“Alas, my love, you do me wrong,
To cast me off discourteously.
For I have loved you well and long,
Delighting in your company.”

Her mother smiled fondly at her.

“If only your numbers were as easy to learn, eh Lucy?” she said to her daughter.

“Well, actually” said Violet “they are! Listen to this!”

Violet cleared her throat and sang to the same tune:

“One time eight is eight, two eights are siiiiixteen

Three times eight is twenty four, four eights are thirty two

Five times eight is forty and six times eight is forty eight

Seven times eight is fifty six and eight times eight is sixty four”

Lucy was laughing as Violet finished and dancing around the room.

“You try it now” she urged the little girl.

By her teatime Lucy was fluent in her eight times table and halfway through the nine times.

There was a knock at the front door and Violet looked up.

“Don’t worry” said Celia “Let Robert get it.”

In less than a minute the valet knocked at the drawing room door.

“Excuse me, madam” he said “There is a visitor, for Violet!”

Violet looked up in alarm “Who is it?”

“It is the young master from up at The Grange!”

Violet looked at Celia “I am sorry” she said, aware that servants were not meant to have visitors,

“For what?” she asked “Go and show him into the parlour, Robert, Miss Violet will be in shortly.”

She smiled at Violet, “You’d better go and see what he wants.”

Violet went into the parlour, her heart beating fast as she saw David standing there.

He had been riding and still had the riding crop in his hand. He stood proudly in his riding tunic and breeches and she had never seen him look more handsome. His fine figure was accentuated by the outfit and his cheeks were flushed with exertion. She felt weak with desire. She turned round and closed the door behind her as he swept her up into his arms and kissed her fiercely. She returned his embrace and they stood close together, until her head was spinning.

She let go and held him at arm’s length to get a good look at him.

“Violet” he breathed heavily “You look beautiful”

It was true that Violet was better dressed these days. Mrs Dickinson had hated the drab clothes that she brought with her from The Grange. She had taken a couple of her own dresses, that she said she did not wear anymore, and had altered them for Violet. It had taken a while, as Celia was much larger than her. But it provided plenty of material to play around with and she bought journals with all the latest Parisian fashions in them. She told her that it would not do her status as a factory owner’s wife any good if her maid looked like a pauper! Violet’s favourite one was the blue one that she was wearing today as it was almost exactly the same colour as her eyes.

She gazed into his much darker eyes “I’ve missed you so much, David!”

“I have come on business” he said as he held her close once more “but I don’t want to let you go.”

She took a step back

“There, I’ll make it easier for you” she teased. “Now what have you got to tell me?”

He tried to look sad at this turn of events, but the sight of her eager face only made him smile

“I’ve just come from the glassworks,” he replied “Mr Dickinson is very impressed with your designs!”

Violet laughed “He is very good to me; I am learning such a lot!”

I have taken him the ironwork that is ready and he is going to start glazing the units for us!”

“Oh David!!” she looked thrilled “I didn’t know that you had got so far. I can’t wait to see them!”

He looked at her fondly “Won’t be long now.”

“What happens then?”

“Well” he started, anticipating her reaction for a second “Have you heard about the Great Exhibition that is taking place next year?”

“I have read something in Mr. Dickinson’s newspapers, aren’t they are building a huge to house it all?” she replied “It looked like a huge version of one of our cases!”

“That’s right!” he was impressed “The wonderful news is that I have secured us a space inside to show our wares!”

“How on earth?” she asked

“Someone I met at my father’s club down in in the summer who has connections with and one of the companies that are building it. I wrote to him and he was only too happy to help us!”

“That is wonderful, but when do we need to have them ready for?” she asked “and how many?”

“As many as we can, there will be exhibitors and visitors from all over the world! We are going to have to work very, very hard up to the springtime. We need to have them taken down there before May Day!”

Violet was quiet as she took that in.

“I have more designs now and have drafted them into plans.”

“You can do that yourself now?” he asked

“Of course” she laughed “Let me give you the newest ones, you can take them over to the metal workshops.”

“Right, I will get onto it right away.” He was excited too.

“Before you go..” she said

“One more kiss?” he looked hopeful

“Maybe, but how are things at The Grange?”

“Oh the place is so busy, with more visitors due tomorrow, it is chaos” he reflected for a moment

“Caroline?” she said

“Yes, she will be here soon and her family.”

Violet said nothing.

“Come on, darling” he pulled her to him once more. “Remember what I said?”

“I have to have patience?” she smiled up at him.

“I know you are not very good at that!” he hugged her tightly “but I promise that everything is going to be all right.”

She kissed the end of his nose

“You trust me?” he asked

“Of course!” she whispered

“Then concentrate on the cases and everything else will follow, I promise.”

He kissed her once more before leaving with her plans clutched in his hand.

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