Life At Babcock Manor – Episode 06


Jenny watched Robert and thought of the young gentleman with the twinkling brown eyes, framed with such dark lashes, who had flicked open his pocket watch before bidding her good day.

Not wanting to hear any more, Jenny took the plate of sweetmeats Mrs Banbury had handed her and climbed the stairs, excited at the prospect of seeing the new governess and Mrs Craven’s brother.

She knocked and entered the room, curtseying as she did so. The gas lamps cast a warm glow over the scene.

Mrs Craven sat at the pianoforte and her husband, Dr Craven, stood by her side, turning the pages of the music.

In a chair facing them sat Miss Osbourne, the new governess, and next to her a gentleman whose dark head was close to hers. The glass of brandy in his hand glinted in the lamplight and she watched him bend his head to whisper something to her.

At the sound of the tray being placed on the small table beside the door, their heads turned and Jenny felt a blush creep into her cheeks. It was the gentleman she had met earlier.

“Why, hello,” he said, nodding to her. “Our paths cross again.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir,” she mumbled, feeling his amused eyes on her face.

She made a hasty curtsey and then backed out the door, noticing as she did so the enquiring look of the schoolteacher and the disapproving one of her mistress.

 ****

“I am so happy that Mama has said we may go to the fair.” Lizzie pulled on her white gloves as Emily pinned her best hat securely to her head.

“We shall have a fine time,” Emily replied. “I have heard that there will be a carousel and a helter-skelter. Your uncle has said that he will kindly escort us.”

Emily had not been altogether pleased when Lewis had suggested that they take the carriage to the fair together, and would have declined his offer if it hadn’t been for Mrs Craven declaring it to be an excellent idea and suggesting they take the phaeton.

If she were honest, she had not taken to the young man. His manner was charming, it had to be said, but there was something in his confidence that made her wary, and when he had whispered in her ear that the pearl earrings she wore were outdone by the glow of her skin, she resolved she would give him no cause to think his advances welcome.

As the horse trotted down the lane they passed groups of men, women and children, all following the sound of the barrel organ in the village.

When they alighted in front of the Dog and Duck, Lewis offered Emily his arm, but she shook her head.

“Elizabeth and I shall be going on the carousel, won’t we, Lizzie?”

“Then, dear ladies,” Lewis said, tipping his hat, “you won’t mind if I take some refreshment.”

“Not at all,” Emily said, glad to be rid of him. “Come, Lizzie, I think the horses have slowed.”

Without a backward glance, she left Lewis standing by the roadside, but as she walked away, she could feel his eyes upon her.

 ****

Lewis watched his niece and her governess walk away into the crowds. When they had disappeared out of sight, he turned and walked into the Dog and Duck.

The room was full and he had to push his way to the bar to be able to order his ale. At the table next to him, a game of cards was about to start.

“I’m in,” he said and the men moved over to let him sit.

The man on his right wore a rough farm worker’s jacket and his face was red from the elements. He dealt Lewis his cards. The other men looked at Lewis suspiciously – he was the only one wearing a cravat. He loosened the stud at his neck and glared at the men.

“If my money’s not good enough for you, I can always find another game.”

 

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.