A Tale of Two Sisters – Episode 24

Miss Lucinda visits Notre-Dame with her new friends

Reginald felt cheerful as he strode down the street.

He was happy to be back in Oxford. Earlier in the week, he and Oliver had spent a wonderful afternoon with the two ladies at the museum and the sun was shining.

Tomorrow was the next of their study sessions and Reginald couldn’t wait.

He was compiling all sorts of information that he thought would fascinate Millicent.

He still had gnawing concerns about his feelings for her, but had decided that he’d overreacted.

She was a good friend and excellent company but, with an exertion of will, surely he could learn to treat her as a colleague.

His few days at home had made him tense and emotional, that was all.

The town was busy. A carriage rolled past, two gentlemen cantered up the street on black horses and pedestrians were going about their business.

He turned into Broad Street, and was making his way towards Blackwell’s, when he looked across the road and, to his delight, saw Millicent and Violet.

He immediately turned and crossed towards them.

They were in conversation with a young man. Another student, perhaps?

“Good morning, ladies. What a happy coincidence.”

They looked up and smiled.

“Why, Reginald, how delightful to see you,”  Millicent greeted him.

Violet stepped forward to make the introductions.

“Reginald, this is Mr Stanley Thursford. Mr Thursford, this is Mr Fenton, a mentor of ours.”

The two men shook hands and eyed each other warily.

Reginald found himself wondering how long Mr Thursford had known the ladies.

Was it his imagination or had he stepped closer to Millicent in a proprietorial manner?

He felt his pulse quicken.

They had not been talking long before he was certain that Millicent had a keen admirer in this other gentleman.

Reginald felt his blood boil. He tried to keep calm, but to no avail: he was horribly jealous.

Perhaps it would be best if he excused himself.

He tipped his hat.

“I must not keep you, ladies, I have interrupted your tête-à-tête, but I look forward to seeing you both tomorrow.”

Violet nodded and Reginald turned to leave, but felt a hand on his arm.

He stopped and looked into Millicent’s dark eyes.

“I cannot let you go, Reginald, without enquiring as to your visit home. I do hope all went well?”

With the touch of her hand and the concern on her face, it was all he could do not to kiss her.

He swallowed.

“Thank you. It went as well as could be expected.”

She looked relieved and he was touched.

“I knew you would find a solution.”

She turned away and Reginald continued down the street, his emotions in turmoil.

He had known when he’d seen her again that he had powerful feelings. Now he was certain he was in love.

Was there any chance that Millicent would return his feelings?

He had annoyed her with his patronising attitudes when they’d first met, and now he would give anything to win her good opinion.

Did she have feelings for this Thursford fellow?

Reginald shuddered. He had never felt so wretched.

He turned on his heel. He could not continue with his errands. He would make his way back to college by an alternative route.

He needed to talk to Oliver.

“Reggie! Good to see you. Come in.”

His friend grinned as he opened his door and found Reginald on the threshold.

“You’re in time for some tea.” He laughed. “There’s plenty of scones for two.”

Reginald sank into an armchair and put his hat and gloves on the table beside him. The last thing he felt like was eating.

He sighed.

When he looked up, he found Oliver watching him.

“What’s wrong? Another letter from home?”

He shook his head.

“No, nothing like that.”

Oliver raised an eyebrow.

“You weren’t long in town,” he ventured. “Did something happen?”

“Nothing out of the ordinary. I did bump into Millicent and Violet.”

“I see.”

Oliver waited and Reginald sunk his head into his hand.

“The truth is,” he continued. “I seem to have got myself into rather a mess.”

To be continued…

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