Flower Of Hope – Episode 10

KELLARD’S gaze shifted.

“Mr Luke Hathern?”

“You know him?”

With a wave of one hand, Mr Kellard indicated only a slight acquaintance.

“I regret, I first have urgent meetings here.”

“Then allow me to give you the address of our lodgings,” William insisted.

“Thank you.” Mr Kellard finished his drink. “If I cannot come in person, I suppose you would receive my representative?”

“Of course!” William shook his hand. “Anyone connected with Kew must be extremely busy.”

William’s contentment grew as he finished a second coffee and returned to the inn. How kind the young man had been! It lifted the spirits.

“I have only heard of him.” Caroline and her father were at the table after the evening meal. “I did not attend that talk you gave, Papa.”

“Well, he has our address in Florence. I thought Hathern would like to meet  this man.”

Next morning Luke was given the news.

“I wish you hadn’t told him where we are staying,” Luke said. “I’d rather meet him in a more public place.”

“It seemed he hardly knew you,” William said.

“But we are well acquainted!” Luke said, puzzled. “He was Hathern’s connection with the people at Kew for a long time. He left the gardens last year.”

“Left? Then why did he still speak as if . . .?” William tailed off.

“Harvey Kellard is a dedicated collector of plants, sir, but in my experience he is less considerate of people unless they aid his ambition. I am concerned this meeting may not have been by chance.”

William gasped.

“He caused a stir in London last year,” Luke continued. “Rumour had it he could supply almost any plant – for a fee, of course.”

“I see.” William wished he had been less charmed by the helpful Mr Kellard.

Just then, Jane held the door for Eliza and Caroline.

“Good morning!” Caroline smiled at Luke. “Has Papa told you our news?”

Luke nodded, unsmiling, and turned to William.

“Did Kellard have a servant with him?”


“Perhaps he prefers to travel alone,” Caroline suggested.

Luke acknowledged the truth of this, but added that Kellard invariably had two men with him when he visited Hathern’s.

“You said also that he seemed interested in Matthew’s plight?”

At her son’s name, Eliza reached for a handkerchief and dabbed her eyes.

“He showed proper sympathy,” William replied. “And offered help.”

“Yet he would not accept your invitation to join us?” Luke asked.

“He had previous commitments, which I can believe. I am certain he never even realised I was in the café,” William said doggedly. “Indeed, I spoke first to him!”

Luke shrugged.

“Perhaps my imagination is running away with me,” he said, at last. “If we ever see this gentleman again, perhaps you should let me deal with him.”

Alison Cook