Hold Fast To Your Dreams – Episode 28

The main characters from the story Illustration: Sailesh Thakrar

He assumed a look of severity, like a stern father making a point to a child. 

“I don’t know what to say!”  

This had been her dream for such a long time. But how could she let him do this for her? 

“You’ll have to move quickly,” he added. “I’ve talked to the brothers and they’re willing to hold on for a day, but no longer.” 

She found it hard to meet his eyes. Her mother and James were the only people in her life who had ever truly believed in her and urged her to reach for the stars. Of course Dad loved her, and Sarah, and her brothers and sisters.  

But her mother’s love had been all-encompassing. She had loved the whole of Emily, even those parts of her that had not yet been discovered – the potential for becoming all that she could be. 

In her heart she knew that James loved her, too. He’d all but asked her to marry him, that day when she’d visited him in the field hospital. But he’d also said he just wanted her to be happy, no matter what. It was a generous love. 

Would she feel right, accepting so much from him, and giving him nothing in return?  

But she wanted this. She imagined it all – the whirr of the machines; the hive of activity; the exquisite window display that would light up the whole street. 

She could feel his eyes on her, then his strong hand reached up and brushed a wisp of hair from her face.  

Lifting her chin, he gazed at her. 

“Emily, I know how much you want this – and deserve it. And I also know why you’re not leaping at the chance.” 

She took a breath, her heart pounding as she groped for the right thing to say.  

“I want this for you,” he said softly. “All I ask in return is for you to say yes to it. Anything else that I may wish for, or dream of, is absolutely separate. Please believe that.”  

He took her by the shoulders, his eyes narrowing.  

“And you’re to make it a success of it, do you hear?” 

Then he pulled her to him and hugged her like an old friend or a sister.  

“How about sleeping on it, and you can tell me your decision tomorrow? I’ll meet you at the sewing-centre first thing in the morning.  

“By the way, I didn’t give those brothers an inkling as to what sort of establishment their turret was to become. They may have been expecting a soda fountain!  

“I’m not sure what they’ll make of a couturier from England. They may take some convincing.” 

“James . . .” 

“Shh. We’ll talk about it tomorrow. Speaking of soda fountains, shall we go and find one?” 

Jenny stood at the window, watching for the carriage that would take Sarah and Mrs Wiggan back to the train station at Brackenbury.  

The morning sunlight dazzled through the glass, for it seemed that, only hours after they’d stepped in the door, the ladies had started scrubbing, polishing and cooking up a storm to make ready for Eleanor Bracken’s guests.  

The rescue party – for that was what it had felt like to Jenny – had arrived at Orchard End four days ago, along with the extraordinary surprise of Lord Farrington’s brother and his exotic wife, who had come along and stayed for the duration at the Brackenbury Hotel, making frequent visits to Orchard End. 

Jenny had been transfixed by the beautiful African woman’s regal carriage and richly embroidered clothes.  

But she found Lord Hugh a puzzling man. He was charming, to be sure, but there was something about him she didn’t trust.  

She was sure she’d seen him rummaging in the drawers of old Lord Farrington’s study, and Ben had mentioned seeing him walking round the grounds and trying to force open the door of the old ice house that had long been abandoned. 

If only there had been more time to talk to Sarah. There was so much that Jenny had wanted to hear about, so much advice she’d wanted to ask.  

But Sarah and Mrs Wiggan had come with a mission, and it had been a success. Eleanor’s weekend guests had been fed and accommodated and, peculiar a group as they had been, each had been pleased. 

“Well, that’s it, then.” Mrs Wiggan’s voice rang out from the landing, and Jenny hurried up the stairs to help. 

“There’s no sign of the carriage yet,” she told them, “but it’s still a little early. Here, let me take that, Mrs Wiggan.”  

She took the case.  

“Leave your case, Sarah. Ben will carry it down.” 

“I’ve hardly seen the lad.” Sarah frowned.   

“I know,” Jenny said apologetically. “I’m sure he’ll come and say goodbye, though. I haven’t seen Lady Bracken yet this morning. I asked last night what time she’d like morning tea, but she said to let her sleep.” 

“I’ve been inside for too long,” Mrs Wiggan remarked. “Since the carriage isn’t here yet, I’ll go out for a breath of air.” 

“Shall we come with you, Mrs Wiggan?”  

But Mrs Wiggan waved her hand in the air.  

“No, I’ll just have a bit of peace,” she said, but Jenny well remembered what a soft heart she had, underneath the brusqueness. “You two have a little chat, and I’ll be back shortly.”  

She took herself off, and Jenny smiled at Sarah. 

“I’ll put the front door ajar and we’ll hear the carriage.” She led Sarah into the drawing-room, clearing away Eleanor’s cigarette holder. 

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.