Hold Fast To Your Dreams – Episode 40

The main characters from the story Illustration: Sailesh Thakrar

Emily, Miriam and Becky converged in front of the long mirror and burst into laughter. 

“I had no idea!” 

“I didn’t notice!” 

“Emily, your hair has bits of thread in it. And there’s a feather!” 

“I’ll frighten away the customers!” 

Then Emily smiled.  

“I want to say right now, I know we have a long night of work ahead, and we’re all hoping and praying that our shop – and it is our shop – is going to be a success.  

“But whatever happens, this has been the most exciting and wonderful time I’ve ever known, and it’s all because of what we’ve done together.  

“I can’t imagine ever having more inspiring friends. Thank you, all of you. And you, too, Mrs Tom Cobley!  

“Now, let’s light the lamps. We haven’t even started the window displays. Becky, could you check to make sure we have everything we need for them?” 

They all tucked into the sandwiches and tea, then immersed themselves in activity.  

Emily looked round the room, her whole being alive with the creative spirit and vision that had always energised her soul.  

Yet something was missing, something that tugged at her heart, and ached with a quiet, constant emptiness.  

It wasn’t Will, for she had made her peace with him, and they both knew that their parting was right.  

It wasn’t James, for she knew that in some way dear, kind James would always be in her life.  

She knew what it was, but there was nothing she could do about it now.  

She would square her shoulders and move forward, as she always had. 

“Look who has come to visit us, Mrs Wiggan!” Thea exclaimed. “Your new friend, Sarah. You two must be thick as thieves, with all that cooking and heaven knows what you did at Orchard End.  

“It seems dear Jenny certainly has ended up in rather a pickle, but somehow it just has to come out right for her and Ben.  

“They are the sweetest pair, don’t you agree?” 

“They are, my lady,” Mrs Wiggan said, looking quizzically at the two ladies who had suddenly appeared in the kitchen.  

“Hello, Sarah. May I offer a cup of tea? Please sit down, my lady. Are you and Lord Witney well?” 

“Heavens, yes. Bert has taken his father off on a long walk – you know how Bert is about exercise. And Lady Farrington has gone somewhere with Hugh and Malaika.  

“Lady F wouldn’t let me come along in my condition, she said. I don’t much like being thought of as in a condition! Makes it all sound such a problem, yet here I am, right as rain, and could so easily try out my motor on the new track. Oh, I long to, but Bert says no.  

“Anyway, dear Sarah has come to call, and that has cheered me up no end.” 

Mrs Wiggan’s look of puzzlement had turned to suspicion.  

“I see,” she said slowly, turning to resume rolling out pastry. 

“Isn’t it exciting? The track is finished and the Farrington Motor Races will open on schedule! There’s still so much to plan, but Sarah here has the most wonderful idea. Wait till you hear!” 

Mrs Wiggan raised her eyebrows, and Sarah smiled awkwardly.  

“I just had a few thoughts,” she said vaguely. 

“Now, how shall we begin? You see, I don’t think Sarah would mind my saying that her Joe has been feeling rather . . . tired. Isn’t that right, Sarah?” 

“Well, yes. I’ve been worried about him, with all the hard farm work, and I had an idea that he might start some market gardening. Strawberries and the like.” 

“Mm.” Mrs Wiggan continued to roll the pastry, which was quickly becoming thin as paper. 

“I’d heard that the owners of some of the big houses have been inviting visitors to walk round their gardens, with a packed picnic provided by the kitchen.” 

Mrs Wiggan continued to roll, her mouth having pursed itself into a thin line. 

“And we thought, what a grand idea for my races!” Thea exclaimed. “You and Sarah could work together, just like you did at Orchard End. Why, the two of you could become the most famous picnic packers ever!  

“We could find a bed here for Sarah, couldn’t we, while the races are on?  

“When the big wheel arrives I don’t think anyone will ever want to part with it! People will simply flock to Farrington House!” 

To be continued…

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