Hold Fast To Your Dreams – Episode 29

The main characters from the story Illustration: Sailesh Thakrar

“I’m so glad we have a little more time,” Sarah said, as they sank into a brocade chaise.  

She gave Jenny’s hand a squeeze.  

“You’ve been doing a fine job here, love,” she said. 

“Oh, Sarah, do you really think so? It was so strange, finding everything in such a state, and not having any idea what was expected of us.  

“I really have tried my best, but I just felt overwhelmed by the prospect of the party. I don’t know how to thank you.” 

“There’s nowhere I’d rather be than helping you, sweetheart. And the Farrington House parties have always been a joint effort. Mrs Wiggan has been in her element, though she’d never admit it!” 

Not trusting the Orchard End kitchen to be up to her standard, Mrs Wiggan had brought along a trunk filled with copper vessels and fluted moulds embossed on the bottom with the Farrington House crest, along with her precious notebook of recipes. 

“That chap with the long beard couldn’t get enough of her beef in jelly. Where was he from, anyway?” Sarah asked. 

“Russia, I think,” Jenny said. “I remember there was a lady who came to lunch at Farrington House a long time ago – she was thought to be a Russian princess. She had the same sort of accent.” 

“A shame about that lady in the shiny pyjamas – the one who recited all that poetry. She wouldn’t touch the beef, or the potted pigeon.” 

“She’s a vegetarian.” 

Sarah laughed lightly.  

“Even Mrs Wiggan has never had to cope with that before! All I can say is, thank heavens you swallowed that pride of yours.” Her voice softened.  

“You never explained in your letters how things were here. I had a feeling that Orchard End wasn’t quite what you’d hoped for.” 

Jenny nodded. 

“I’m just worried about Ben. He’s terribly disappointed and ashamed, though he has no reason to be. But that’s why he’s been avoiding you these past days.  

“You see, Robert Bracken won’t put up the funds for Ben to do what he’d set his heart on. Ben’s working himself to the bone, trying to clear the grounds, and digging some beds.  

“But when I think of the grand plans he had! It’s just terrible for him. I feel he could explode at any moment – just walk out and . . .” 

“Now, we mustn’t think such things, love. We need to remember that there’s always a way round a situation, but sometimes it means adapting and changing, and thinking in a different way.  

“Your dad has trouble with that. He’s never had to do it, so I think it scares him.  

“I expect everyone wants the same thing in some ways – to make the most of whatever there is. But it can be jolly hard finding a way to make that work for everyone at the same time!” 

Jenny sighed heavily.  

“Sometimes Ben gets that look in his eyes – it reminds me of when he first came to live with us.”  

She looked up at Sarah, knowing she didn’t have to elaborate. 

It had been nearly three years ago that Sarah had arranged for her nephew to come to live with the Callows, but it felt like a lifetime.  

Ben had been headed for nothing but trouble, and his brush with the law had been devastating for his mother, Sarah’s sister.  

He’d been an angry, unpleasant lad when he’d arrived, but the hard farm work with Joe, and Sarah’s strict but kind family values, had done him a world of good.  

It was obvious from the start that he’d fallen instantly in love with Jenny. Sarah had feared this would be the end of him, as at first Jenny had hardly been able to bear him. 

“He was a very different young man then, love.  

“And you were a different girl, if I may remind you!” 

It had been something of a miracle, the way Ben and Jenny had gradually come to understand each other, kindred spirits that had intertwined into a firm belief in one another.  

Ben had been able to see into Jenny’s heart, and she had finally lost hers to him.  

Jenny smiled, a little embarrassed to remember how difficult she’d been. 

“I felt so frustrated and out of place, I suppose. Emily was good at everything, and seemed so sure of what she wanted to do at Farrington House. I wanted something special for myself, too.” 

“But you were a huge success at Farrington House,” Sarah insisted. “The countess was devoted to you, and still is. And Emily couldn’t have done what she did without you. You became a team, with the designing and sewing.  

“You and Ben are a wonderful team, too. Somehow, it will work out.” 

To be continued…

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