Dust

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Chapter 6

Twenty-Second of January 1901

Five year old Edmund Devon sat in the corner of the nursery, eying up his many toys collected together in one big pile. His parents had believed that toys were a great way to keep a child occupied. The nursery was bright and airy with pictures to cover up the walls and make the room look more attractive.

It was a cold, bleak day outside and Edmund still had shivered, coat and all when he stood on the steps in the back garden. He hated cold winds and ice, the sight of grey clouds brought sadness to his mind.

His father Charles was busy as usual in the study of the house doing work, mother Louisa was in the parlour downstairs doing some sewing. Mrs Laxley who had been with Edmund since his day of birth was supervising him to make sure that he didn't get up to any mischief. Edmund wore long woollen socks that sometimes made him itch and shorts which showed off his bare legs.

"Make your mind up Edmund!" demanded Mrs Laxley, "Which toy will it be?"

Edmund's hands reached out to touch and hold toys, his mood changed daily and so did the toys he played with. Eventually, his eyes focused on the alphabet blocks that were stacked up.

"You know your ABCs Edmund?" asked Mrs Laxley.

Edmund nodded, "Yes."

Taking the blocks in his hand, he laid all twenty-six of them out on the nursery floor and placed them in order starting with A and finishing with Z.

"Are they right?" asked Edmund.

Mrs Laxley's sharp eyes noticed something wrong, "The S and the T are the wrong way round."

Edmund sighed furiously, "I've been trying for ages to get things right!"

"Now now Master Edmund, learning things do take time and sometimes we do mistakes, it's how you learn from them." replied Mrs Laxley.

Edmund didn't speak as he moved the two blocks around, a frown deepening on his face. He liked to think that he was in control and that everything he did was right. At five years old, nearly six, he had inherited the sometimes sincereness and stubbornness from his own father.

A woman at the nursery door interrupted play, "Mrs Laxley, Master Edmund is needed downstairs in the parlour immediately."

Edmund jumped up, "Is it Mummy?"

"She's waiting for you Master Edmund." replied the lady who wore a grave expression on her face.

Edmund ran downstairs and into the parlour where his mother was sitting in a large chair, the sewing left on the table in a mess.

"Mummy? Is anything wrong?" asked Edmund.

Louisa stared at her only child, "A telegram from London, from a good friend of your father."

Edmund clapped his hands, "Oh goodie! Are we going to London?"

A small tear trickled down Louisa's cheek, "No, it's bad news which has made me emotional."

Edmund stopped smiling and looked towards Mrs Laxley from guidance.

It was Mrs Laxley who broke the silent ice, "Is the news too unsuitable for Edmund to hear?"

Louisa held the pale telegram in her hands, "Her Majesty the Queen is no more."

Edmund frowned, "No more? Has she been taken ill or something?"

"No my dear, she is with the angels now." replied Mrs Laxley.

A few other servants had gathered in the parlour, all of them had tears running down their faces.

"What does it mean?" demanded Edmund, "A Queen can't leave!"

"Her time is up Edmund, it will happen to everyone some day and that is why you need to make the most of life." said Mrs Laxley sadly.

"You do know where people go after they are no more Edmund?" questioned Louisa.

There was short pause before he replied, "To the skies."

"Yes but where in the skies?" pestered Louisa.

"I don't know!" screamed Edmund.

"Edmund! Do not scream at your mother!" yelled Charles, his father.

Louisa sank down into her chair and took up her sewing, "Leave Edmund."

Edmund was tired of being sent away most of the time but sometimes, he knew that words often upset people and clearly he had upset his own mother.

"Where shall I take him miss?" asked Mrs Laxley.

Louisa dwelled for a moment before responding, "Take him to his room."

Mrs Laxley lead the boy out and towards the stairs before she felt a strong hand on her shoulder. On turning, she looked at the master of the house.

"Leave him with me for a while Mrs Laxley, I will call for you when I'm finished." said Charles.

"Of course sir," smiled Mrs Laxley, "Be good Edmund."

Numbly, Edmund followed his father into the study of the house which overlooked the front. It was full of books and maps. His father sat behind a desk while Edmund sat directly opposite him.

"Your mother is very concerned about the things you said to her earlier," began Charles, "That is why I thought that we should have a male chat, father and son."

Edmund nodded and waited patiently for his father to start talking.

"There are two places that you can go after death, heaven and hell." said Charles, "Heaven is where the good people go, where the angels lie and will look after those who have done good in their lives, that is where Her Majesty has gone."

"The other?" asked Edmund.

"The other is called hell, where it is a pit of fire. If I were you, don't do bad things in your life." instructed Charles.

"Like stealing chocolates out of the jar?" suggested Edmund.

Charles laughed, "Well, that is quite naughty Edmund but there are worse things that you should never cross."

Edmund nodded, "I get it."

"You're a bright boy Edmund, now use those talents towards reward later in life." smiled Charles as he rang a bell from behind him.

Mrs Laxley smiled as she opened the door, "Time sir?"

"Yes Mrs Laxley, take Edmund back to the nursery and let him play some more with his toys, read him a book if you will." advised Charles.

Edmund ran back upstairs to the nursery, "Me and father talked about heaven and hell."

Mrs Laxley nodded, "It's good to know about that early on in life. It's important information that you will carry around for the rest of your life."

Edmund smiled, "Of course, I don't want to be nasty."

As Mrs Laxley sat down with Edmund, both of them did think of the deceased Queen but knew that future and new rulers came next and they must not dwell on it too much. After all, they both had a life to live and must make good use of it.

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