A Tale of Two Sisters – Episode 22

Helen Welsh © The main characters from the series

Reginald was happy to be back in Oxford.

As he and Oliver made their way along South Parks Road towards the Pitt Rivers Museum, he could hardly wait to get there.

They had arranged to meet Millicent and Violet and spend an afternoon enjoying the exhibits.

It was a cold afternoon and he was glad of his wool coat and gloves.

His breath fogged the air as they strode along the cobbled street.

“All went well, I hope?”

“Thank you, Oliver, I believe I have sorted out young Francis and this will be the end of his antics.”

“I daresay it will,” his friend replied with a grin. “No doubt he has learned his lesson.”

Reginald nodded. He hoped so. He had undertaken to clear his brother’s debts, only on the understanding that the money would come from Francis’s own allowance.

His brother would be living on tightened purse strings for some months, which would do him no harm at all.

He had also extracted a promise that Francis would never place bets again.

“How was your mother?” Oliver asked.

“Mama was well. Otherwise, much the same as ever. I am glad to be back,” Reginald admitted.

His friend laughed.

“You will not miss the lovely Miss Grantham?”

Oliver did not expect a reply, so he made nothing of his friend’s silence.

Reginald felt a sinking in the pit of his stomach at the mention of her name. He was concerned he would not miss her much at all.

He could not fathom it. What could have changed?

Still, an afternoon at the museum with the ladies would restore his spirits.

“How did your discussion go the other day?” he asked Oliver.

His friend chuckled.

“Fierce as always. Had a job to answer some of their questions.

“Millicent made a better fist of explaining one point to her friend than I could. She’s a remarkable woman. I needed you there, Reggie.”

Reginald grinned. He wished he had been there, and Millicent really was remarkable. The breadth of her knowledge took his breath away.

He quickened his steps. He couldn’t wait to go round the museum with her and hear her observations and exclamations of delight.

He had visited once before, a year after it was fully opened.

It held a large collection of archaeological and ethnographic objects in glass display cases in an airy, galleried building.

He knew she would be delighted with it.

The ladies were already outside as they approached the sandy edifice with its pitched grey roof.

They were wearing warm capes and muffs, and their cheeks were pink with cold. He hoped they hadn’t been waiting long.

Violet gave a friendly wave as they drew near and Oliver tipped his hat.

Millicent looked up and, as she smiled at them, Reginald felt a grin of delight spread across his own face.

A powerful feeling arose in his breast. He had really missed her.

He wanted to race across the intervening space, sweep her up and spin her round and round, he was so thrilled to see her again.

He stopped dead. So this was why everything was different. Why Miss Grantham’s company was no longer so desirable.

He had developed feelings for Miss Millicent Halsom…

To be continued…

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