Life At Babcock Manor – Episode 16


The hallway was filled with vases of white lilies. Emily found their sweet perfume, which seemed to have filled every room, rather cloying, and was pleased that she had suggested a walk that morning before Lizzie settled to her arithmetic.

She was just fastening her cape when she heard the sound of hooves outside. Moving to the window, she saw the two riders rein in their mounts and then she watched as Robert, the young footman, ran across the drive towards them.

One of the riders, she could see, was Dr Craven. He dismounted and handed Robert the reins of his horse. The other rider remained in his saddle, looking around him, and Emily could see he was younger than the doctor and of slim build.

After a moment, he dismounted, too, and he and the older man talked animatedly. It was obvious to Emily that they had much to say.

“Your father is back, Lizzie. He has returned early. Why don’t you go and greet him while I ring for Mrs Peters?”

A smile lit Lizzie’s face.

“Oh, I am so pleased that Father is home. Maybe now we will be a proper family.”

Emily was going to enquire as to her meaning, but was interrupted by the sound of boots on the gravel drive and the bark of a laugh.

Lizzie flew to the door and threw it open.

“Papa!”

“My dear Lizzie.” The doctor laughed as she threw her arms around his waist. “Is that how young ladies behave?”

His words were laced with humour and, as he spoke, he kissed the top of his daughter’s head before looking at Emily.

“I hope Lizzie has been studying hard while I was at the conference, Miss Osbourne.”

“She has indeed, Doctor Craven. Your daughter is a very able student. When you have rested from your journey perhaps you would like to hear her Latin verbs.”

“That I shall, but look how ill-mannered I have become whilst deprived of female company these last few days.” He stood aside and held his arm out to the young man who stood a few paces behind him. “This is Doctor James Upton. He will be working with me at my practice and at St Saviour’s Hospital.”

The young man lifted his top hat and bowed. As he did, Emily thought how serious he looked.

His hair was parted at the side and curled over his ears. It was the colour of the corn in the fields around Babcock Manor and his eyes were a light blue. The natural downturn of his mouth gave him a melancholy air, but as he smiled, his face changed and Emily realised she might have been wrong in her first impression.

“It is a pleasure, ladies,” James said. He looked down at Lizzie. “Your father, Miss Elizabeth, is a very knowledgeable man and I am fortunate to have made his acquaintance.”

Dr Craven clapped him on the back.

“And I yours, James. This young man knows all the latest in medical advances.” He lowered his voice and Emily wondered whether it was to ensure his wife wouldn’t hear. “He specialises in childhood diseases.”

Emily looked at the young doctor with interest.

“That is very worthwhile, Doctor Upton.”

James looked down modestly, but Dr Craven beamed at the young man in admiration.

“It is indeed. He will be an asset to the town. Now, where is everyone?”

“I’m afraid they weren’t expecting you until this afternoon, Doctor Craven, but Mrs Peters should be here soon to see to your things. Shall you be staying the night, Doctor Upton?”

James shook his head.

“Only for dinner, Miss Osbourne. I have lodgings in the town and shall wish to make my acquaintance with my landlady before the day is out.”

“Then we will not hold you up further.” She put on her bonnet and smiled at Elizabeth. “Come, Lizzie, your father and Doctor Upton must be tired from their journey. I am sure we shall meet again, sir.”

“I very much hope so, Miss Osbourne.”

As Emily and Lizzie left the house and walked out across the gardens towards the orchard, Emily glanced back to see a face at the upstairs window.

Mrs Craven had evidently seen her husband arrive home and Emily wondered why she had not come downstairs to greet him. Still, as governess to her daughter, it was not Emily’s place to concern herself with her employer’s odd behaviour, and besides, at this moment, it was Dr Upton’s serious blue eyes that filled her thoughts.

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”.