A Tale of Two Sisters – Episode 27

Miss Lucinda visits Notre-Dame with her new friends

Alice followed the ladies back inside, as Jenkin led the horses to the stables.

The women parted at the foot of the staircase, agreeing to meet up in half an hour for luncheon.

When they reached her room, Miss Lucinda spoke.

“Alice, I should like you to run an errand for me. Find Rawson to accompany you.

“Go to the haberdashery and purchase some new lace for my silk shawl.”

“Yes, miss.”

Alice set off to look for Rawson.

She found him polishing Miss Lucinda’s boots in a servants’ pantry at the rear of the building and agreed to meet him outside the hotel entrance in two minutes.

She needed to go back upstairs and check with her mistress if it was the blue or the cream shawl that she meant.

She was about to knock on Miss Lucinda’s door when she heard voices and her own name mentioned.

Alice froze. She was sure it was Jenkin in there, talking with the mistress. Why were they discussing her?

Her face felt hot and her heart began to pound. She put her ear to the crack and listened.

“Alice has done me great service and I am fond of her, so it is most important to me that the right thing is done by her.”

“Of course, miss.”

“I am sure you mean well, Jenkin, but there is something that you need to know.”

Alice couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Her hand flew to her mouth. Surely she wouldn’t?

“Her past has been very difficult, very painful. She has a child. A little boy.”

Alice thought she was going to be sick. She fled from the doorway.

How could Miss Lucinda do this? Now Jenkin would not want her any more; he would know everything.

She had lost him, just as she had realised he was the very man to suit her.

Tears began to roll down her cheeks. Why hadn’t she kept her secrets to herself?

She fled to her room and wept bitterly.

How had she come to care so much for Jenkin, and why was Miss Lucinda telling him everything?

Perhaps she was warning him away so Alice wouldn’t be hurt again.

Miss Lucinda must have noticed Jenkin’s attentions, but believed that Alice did not reciprocate.

Alice had certainly taken care to avoid him as much as possible in the months before their travels.

She shook her head. Whatever her mistress’s intention, it was over and she must pull herself together.

Rawson would be wondering where she was.

She splashed her face with water and headed downstairs.

Millicent had been looking forward to this evening’s entertainment for some time.

The university had organised a special lecture, followed by a reception, for those studying science and mathematics.

Their tutor, Miss Barrett-Jones, had managed to get a dispensation for the ladies to attend.

It was a formal occasion and Millicent and Violet had dressed in evening gowns.

Millicent thought her friend looked elegant in a silk dress with a full skirt and short puffed sleeves.

Her hair was curled up on her head and tastefully adorned with a threaded ribbon and small feather.

Millicent herself had chosen a pink silk today, with lace on the sleeves, and her mother’s pearls.

“The lecture was fascinating,” Violet said as they entered a room with wood-panelled walls and gold-framed portraits.

“Most interesting,” Millicent returned. “I’m so glad we could attend. I had not heard the theory of . . . Oh, dear.”

Millicent looked up to see Mr Thursford coming towards them.

She had not anticipated his presence this evening and had been looking forward to the company of Reginald and Oliver.

To be continued…

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