Hold Fast To Your Dreams – Episode 05

The main characters from the story Illustration: Sailesh Thakrar

Lady Farrington wondered if she would ever recover from the shock of coming home to find garish electric lighting installed.

As for the new bathroom, with taps in the shape of dolphins, and that marble statue of a Greek goddess!

“Florence is right,” Thea said. She turned to her father-in-law. “Reginald, I know you’re worried about money, but you mustn’t be. I thought Bert explained –”

Bertrand put a hand on hers.

“Father, what Thea is trying to say is that it is a privilege to use her fortune to get us back on our feet.”

“I have already told you, no. The Farringtons solve their own problems.”

“Father, Thea is a Farrington. This is her way of expressing her gratitude – and her respect for you. Isn’t that right, darling?”

“Of course it is. But listen, everyone – I have a surprise. It will solve everything and make Farrington House famous all over England!”

Lady Farrington felt her hands trembling. Setting her teacup on to its saucer with a clatter, she braced herself for her daughter-in-law’s latest inspiration.

The London train had chugged into Brackenbury at noon, but it was now half-past.

“He must have got the time wrong,” Jenny said, trying to sound soothing.

“But Bracken said he’d arrange it.” Ben had been nervous on the journey, and now his temper was fraying.

Jenny searched her mind for an explanation, but Ben was right. The plan that Robert Bracken had put forward at the wedding feast was clear. Someone would collect them at the station at noon, and take them to Orchard End.

It had been strange, the Brackens suddenly appearing, and Eleanor had certainly been a surprise.

“She’s different from how I imagined,” Jenny whispered to Sarah in a stolen moment together.

“Glamorous, isn’t she?” Sarah said, her voice too bright. “Like a film star, with that hair.”

Eleanor had barely spoken to Jenny, except to offer a feeble explanation for not having responded to the invitation.

“It must have slipped my mind. But here we are.”

“It’s kind of you to come.” Jenny smiled, but Eleanor had already turned away.

“So, you’re going to be putting the garden in order?” her husband said briskly, eyeing Ben. “Could use some tidying up.”

“Yes, sir,” Ben replied.

Jenny saw the colour rise in his face, knowing how much this surprise meeting had thrown him. He wanted to feel in control, and come across with authority and confidence.

There was an awkward silence which Jenny tried to cover.

“We’re looking forward to settling in as soon as we’re back from honeymoon. We weren’t going to have one, but the countess has been so generous.”

“Eleanor and I have just moved to the country,” Bracken said, his voice dismissive. “I have business in London, so you won’t see much of me.”

He droned on while Eleanor tried to engage the countess in conversation. Then, as suddenly as they had arrived, they left. But plans for Jenny and Ben’s arrival at Orchard End were made.

Now Jenny closed her eyes for a moment, holding on to the enchantment of the honeymoon.

It had all been out of a dream: the magnificent hotel with its red-carpeted steps and chandelier in the restaurant. Then they had been shown up a staircase to a room so beautiful, it had taken Jenny’s breath away.

They’d had two glorious days with walks in the flower-filled parks, trips to the theatre and the zoo, and to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew with its spectacular glass houses filled with exotic plants.

To be continued…

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