A Tale of Two Sisters – Episode 26

Miss Lucinda visits Notre-Dame with her new friends

“Do not give way to gloomy thoughts,” Violet urged Millicent. “Likely she is in fine health.

“Write again and explain that her letter has failed to reach you. I am sure there is a harmless explanation.”

Millicent nodded.

“She is so impulsive,” she complained. “If she is well, perhaps she has tumbled into another catastrophe.”

Violet laughed.

“It is not like you to be dramatic.

“Your sister will soon be home and your reconciliation is not far away, I am sure.”

Violet took out a pocket watch and consulted it.

“It is time for our tutorial. That will distract you.”

Millicent smiled. She would take her friend’s advice.

She would write again and keep as busy as she could, but she couldn’t quash a nagging doubt in the back of her mind.

What had been going on in her absence?

Alice sat in the carriage with her mistress and Miss Thérèse, travelling back to the hotel.

They had been to a meeting at the town hall and her mind was whirling from what she had heard.

“What did you make of that, Alice?” Miss Thérèse turned to her, a smile on her pleasant face.

“You look a little stunned, no?”

Miss Lucinda burst out laughing.

“You do, Alice. I must say, there were views expressed there that were really quite revolutionary.

“I am not entirely sure what to make of it all myself.”

Alice nodded.

“Did that fine lady with the enormous hat really say that womenfolk of the likes of me should vote, too? Not just the gentlefolk?”

“She did.”

Alice found it hard to believe. She herself could not understand a word that the lady had said, but Miss Lucinda and Miss Thérèse had translated much of it for her benefit.

“What do you make of it? Would you like to vote?”

Alice had no idea. It seemed so out of the realms of possibility as to be fanciful.

“I don’t know, miss. I ain’t never thought on it, but I don’t have much learning. I’m not sure I could.”

“That is a good point, Alice.” Miss Thérèse gave her an approving look.

“Emile says that we must first improve education for all, so that everyone is equipped to vote.”

Lucinda nodded.

“That is wise, but I should prefer that someone kind and loyal, like Alice, should vote rather than a man who is a criminal, for example.”

“Exactly.” Miss Thérèse spoke with passion.

“This is one of many arguments that support our case. People must listen.”

“It will take time, but better education might be more easily achieved.” Miss Lucinda looked excited.

“I wonder what can be done, even on a small scale.

“My own village lacks a school. Perhaps I could work to endow such an institution?

“I could organise events to encourage benefactors, and my father could raise the topic at the local government meetings.”

Miss Thérèse clapped her hands together.

“Marvellous! We shall make a campaigner of you yet.”

Her mistress looked delighted, but secretly Alice wondered about her chances of success.

Even should such a school exist, she couldn’t imagine boys, like her little brothers, sitting still to learn their letters for two minutes together.

All the children were needed in the fields at harvest time, too.

She kept her thoughts to herself, however. It was good to see Miss Lucinda smiling.

Jenkin was at the hotel to assist them as they alighted from the carriage.

As he took her hand to help her down, Alice felt a comforting feeling rise up inside her, and her cheeks burned, despite the cold.

“Slater, when you have seen to the horses, please come to my room. I have an errand for you,” Miss Lucinda said.

“Yes, miss.”

To be continued…

An error has occurred while loading your details. Please click the following link to try again - if the issue persists, please don't hesitate to contact us. Try again by refreshing the page.