Hold Fast To Your Dreams – Episode 32

The main characters from the story Illustration: Sailesh Thakrar

Now she turned and saw the dumbfounded expression on her face. 

“You certainly seem to know a lot about it,” Eleanor said. 

“Well, I do love fabrics and colour. I used to work with my sister – we made dresses for the ladies at Farrington House.  

“My sister Emily did most of the designing, and I did the bulk of the sewing. But Emily is living in America now.”  

Jenny bit her lip as pangs of nostalgia rippled through her. Those days seemed a lifetime ago, and it seemed so wrong to be out of touch with her sister. 

“You’re a dressmaker?” Eleanor was reduced to silent awe. 

“I do miss those days, but things change. I’m married to the man I love, and that’s the most important thing in the world to me now.” 

“I can’t imagine what it must feel like to create something out of yourself.” 

“Eleanor, I hope you won’t mind my saying this. You could create something wonderful. It’s right here, under your nose.” 

Eleanor’s eyes widened, but then she frowned.  

“You could make this house feel your own,” Jenny persisted. “Without your mother.” 

“That’s ridiculous,” Eleanor snapped. “I could never do that, and you know it.” 

“Of course you could. You just need to follow your heart. Think about what you love best – colours, and a certain atmosphere.” 

Eleanor began to look tearful again but then she glanced up.  

“But I don’t even know what I like. Would you help me, Jenny? I could never do it alone, and I loved everything you said when you were describing it all.” 

“Of course I will.” Jenny paused, not sure whether to take the chance or not. 

“What is it?” Eleanor asked. 

“Imagine if you and Lord Bracken hosted a party to celebrate! You could invite the whole village. If we work hard, it could be ready in time for Harvest Festival.  

“When I was growing up, we always celebrated with a big party, called the Harvest Home. This would be a celebration of harvest time, and also the reopening of Orchard End.  

“A brand-new beginning for you and Lord Bracken, and the village!” 

“We could do that? When would we start?” 

“We can start right now. But do you think Lord Bracken would agree to funding the redecoration?” 

“I think he would. I know he wants me to be happy here.” 

Jenny hesitated, but knew she mustn’t let the moment pass.  

“Ben wants me to be happy, too, but I wish he were happier. He’s frustrated because he’d had such wonderful ideas for your garden. 

“If only he had a bigger budget and could do more with it! Especially now, to get it ready for your party.” 

Silence fell between them, but Jenny watched as Eleanor looked first round the room and then out of the window to the garden, her pale face taking on an unaccustomed glow as her imagination began to take flight. 

Lady Farrington adjusted her gloves as the butler opened the door of the train carriage.   

“Thank you, Runciman.” 

“A pleasure, my lady. I shall be waiting at the appropriate platform at ten minutes past three precisely.” 

“If there should be any change, I shall telephone,” Lady Farrington said nervously. “I haven’t seen dear Henrietta in quite some time, and we do have a good deal to catch up on.”   

“If I may suggest, you might supply me with your friend’s telephone number. Just in case of –” 

“There’s no need.”  

Lady Farrington heard the sharpness in her voice, and her hands began to sweat beneath her gloves.  

“But thank you. The train we have agreed upon will allow sufficient time. And, of course, I will want to be back well before my husband returns.” 

She turned and gave a nod to him through the window, and he stepped back to watch as she made her way to the Ladies’ First Class Carriage. 

She took a breath as she settled into the velvet seat. There was no reason to feel guilty, she told herself.  

For heaven’s sake, why should she tell their butler where she was going? It was none of his business.  

The whistle sounded and the train chugged slowly out of the station. 

She gazed out of the window through the billows of steam, wondering if Reginald would ask how her visit with Henrietta had gone. It had been a stroke of luck that she’d thought of her, and had remembered where she’d moved to, such a long time ago.  

They hadn’t been in touch for years, and had never been particularly close friends in the first place. Reginald had been surprised, but she’d been able to explain the fib away quite easily.  

Depending on the outcome, she would of course tell him everything. But keeping it to herself was the right thing to do, she thought to herself, as her mind drifted back to earlier in the week. 

To be continued…

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