Hold Fast To Your Dreams – Episode 35

The main characters from the story Illustration: Sailesh Thakrar

She had melted into his arms and had given herself up to the wonder and joy of it – the two of them together at last.  

But the next time, it had been different. It was the day he’d taken her to see the school he’d helped to build. 

“I know you’ve got big dreams for yourself here, with your dress designing and the rest of it. But you don’t have to prove anything to anyone.”  

He’d taken her into his arms and had kissed her again, but she’d known that something didn’t feel right, though she didn’t realise until later what it had been. 

The playful sea animals gave a last chorus of barking, then settled themselves for a rest, their great brown bodies drooping and overlapping in a companionable heap. 

“I guess the entertainment is over for a while,” Will said. 

“They’re such fun to watch. It’s been wonderful – thank you, Will.” 

“You’re not sorry you said yes to a day out with me?” 

“Of course not. I’ve had a very happy time.” 

“You needed a day to rest, Em. You work hard – too hard, really.” 

“It’s what I love, Will.”  

She felt an unwelcome wave of resentment building inside her, the memory of that day he’d shown her the school coming to the fore again.  

“You see, it’s not the way you think.” 

“What do you mean?” 

Suddenly she could feel what was going to happen – it was all going to change, in an instant, and would never be the same again.  

But the moment had come, and she couldn’t stop it. 

“You once told me that I didn’t have to prove anything. But Will, that’s not what it’s about. The designing and sewing makes me feel truly alive.  

“Of course I love to have fun, too, like today. And I love everything and everyone back home. I miss my family dreadfully.  

“But creating and expressing myself, trying to go beyond anything I ever thought I could, well, I just can’t turn my back on that.  

“Something inside me would shrivel up if I gave it up, however much I almost wish it didn’t feel that way.” 

“But you could still do your designing and sewing back home. “Surely the Farringtons would want you back, or would set something up for you. The countess would organise something, I’m sure.  

“You could be near your family. And me,” he added quietly. 

“Will.” She felt her throat constrict, and tears threatened.  

“I feel so close to you, and always will. A huge part of me longs to go back. But somehow, after all that’s happened here, and all that I’ve experienced –” 

“It’s that doctor, isn’t it?” he blurted out. “You’re in love with him.” 

“No, that’s not true.” She took a breath, questioning herself for a moment. “But there’s so much possibility here. It’s all so new and on the brink of change. 

“Somehow, I’ve come to realise that I can’t be who I truly am, unless I can sail along with it.”   

As she spoke the words, she knew it was the truth. 

She looked into his eyes, the memories of all they had been to each other flowing between them in an unspoken bond. A love that would always be, and yet could never be.  

“I have to stay, Will.” 

They looked at each other, eyes glistening with unshed tears as he gathered her up once more, holding her to him for what they knew would be the last time. 

“I know, Em. I think I’ve always known. It’s the right thing.” 

“Thank you. That is most kind.” Lady Farrington took the teacup and saucer from the young woman. 

“That’s grand, Ruby,” the man said. “Aren’t you going to join us?” 

“No, Dad. I’d best get on,” she said cheerfully. “A pleasure to meet you, Lady Farrington.” 

“And you, Miss Dickson.” 

Silence filled the little room, and Lady Farrington cast her eyes round, taking in the simplicity and spotlessness, the window ledge lit up with a jug of sunflowers. 

“I realise this is most unusual, Mr Dickson, but as I said, it is of the utmost importance.” 

“Yes, I do understand, my lady. Your letter explained it all. But I’m not sure what to say. It was hard to get the measure of Lord Bracken. Changeable, he was, suddenly going off to Africa like that.”  

He shook his head.  

“I was always concerned for Lady Bracken, such a good, kind lady. If he did come back with diamonds, well, she never saw them. He left her in a sorry state.  

“I did what I could for her, right to the end. And the boy, Robert. Nice enough lad, but couldn’t settle, somehow. Good to know he’s married.  

“How’s the young gardener getting on?” 

“I’m not sure, Mr Dickson. It was good of you and Mr Mott to arrange the job for Ben. He married my daughter-in-law’s maid.”  

She stopped herself, knowing she must make the most of the visit. 

To be continued…

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