Flower Of Hope – Episode 06

CAROLINE was in the hall when her sister’s second letter arrived. She took it to her father in his study.

He began reading. His smile faded as he reached the third page.

“I hope my sister is well,” Caroline said.

“She is anxious. My grandson has left home.”

“Matthew leaves home at least twice a year!” Caroline sniffed. “Usually to stay with his father’s cousins, who allow him the freedom he lacks at home.

“What is so different this time?” she asked.

William placed Eliza’s letter in her hands.

“Perhaps you should read the letter and its enclosure in full,” her father advised.

He stood up, and moved restlessly around the room.

By the end of the third page Caroline understood her father’s anxiety about her widowed sister’s dearest and only child.

Matthew Field, just nineteen, had left home within recent months, bound not for his cousins but, instead, for foreign travel. He wrote to say that he was somewhere near Florence. His mother was “not to worry”.

Caroline shook her head.

“My nephew gives his mother enough information to worry her, but not enough to tell her anything! He should stop alarming everyone and get himself home immediately.”

“Read on,” William said.

Matthew’s letter to his mother continued. It had been sent from a hospital attached to a monastery. He had suffered an injured leg. The monks had tended it for him. He was no longer in much pain, but wasn’t free to leave.

“Imprisoned?” Caroline speculated.

Her father shrugged.

“The situation in the Italian States is uncertain at present.”

Eliza wrote separately that she was desperate for information, but could get none. She now had only her own family to turn to.

She hoped her father would forgive the intrusion, but she would be at Lyon Place by tomorrow afternoon.

Caroline folded the letters carefully. All thoughts of arrangements with Hathern’s, or of setting up an exhibition of her work, had better be abandoned.

She dared not even think about the more private plan she was evolving, to investigate the fate of their lost seeds. Once Eliza arrived on their doorstep, there was no telling what direction life might take.

Alison Cook