Life At Babcock Manor – Episode 27

The music had come to an end and the couples were leaving the floor.

“Miss Osbourne?”

Emily had been so busy looking at the dancers that she had not seen Dr Upton approach their table. He looked very different from when she had last seen him at Babcock Manor the evening of Lizzie’s fever. She had hoped that he might call again so they could have the promised conversation about his work, but had been disappointed to hear he had been called away to the city.

Now he stood before her, his white silk vest and black swallowtail coat neatly pressed and his starched shirt set off by gold studs and a small white bow tie. She felt her heart beat a little faster.

“Doctor Upton,” she said, inclining her head. “I am pleased to see you here.”

At her side, Elizabeth nodded eagerly. She looked pretty in a pale yellow silk dress.

“And I, too. For I owe my recovery to you.”

“I cannot take all the credit, Miss Craven, for in Miss Osbourne you had a very fine nurse as well as governess.”

Emily smiled. The orchestra was playing the first strains of a quadrille and she was aware that the young doctor was bowing again and had extended his hand.

“Will you do me the honour of this dance, Miss Osbourne?”

“With pleasure, sir,” she said, trying to ignore the amused look on Belinda’s face. “Lizzie, here is your father, and Belinda, it seems you have your first partner. Why don’t you make up a set with us?”

She took James’s arm and made her way on to the dance floor, followed by Belinda and a portly gentleman with bushy side-whiskers. The girl pulled a face as they took their places and Emily threw her a warning look.

The dance started and the ladies walked forwards, nodding to their partners before returning to their places.

When the men did the same, Dr Upton gave Emily a shy smile and Emily felt the colour rise in her cheeks.

I mustn’t be so foolish, she thought. He is only being friendly because of my position in the household. After all, a doctor wouldn’t be interested in a governess.

Stepping forwards again, she placed her hand on top of his and together they turned.

“Your dress is very becoming, Miss Osbourne.”

When she had looked at herself in Belinda’s pink silk dress, she had been surprised at how it had brought out the roses in her cheeks and the warmth in her eyes. Now that Dr Upton had admired it, she was glad that she hadn’t let her pride stop her from accepting Belinda’s gift.

“Thank you,” she said as they passed shoulder to shoulder. “You are very kind.”

“Not kind at all, Miss Osbourne. Just honest.”

The music stopped and Dr Upton led her back to her seat.

“I hope that now I am back from the city, we might talk next time I am visiting Babcock Manor. Now I am promised to Mrs Lucket over there for the polka. If you will excuse me.”

With a small bow, he left them and Belinda gave a delighted giggle.

“Doctor Upton is very handsome, don’t you think, Miss Osbourne?”

Emily tried to look stern, but it was impossible when the girl was so exuberant. Instead she smiled.

“Yes, I believe he is rather, Belinda.”

“It will be the next dance soon.” Belinda’s eyes roamed the room and Emily wondered whose face she was seeking.

As she watched, the young woman’s face changed and she gave a sharp intake of breath. She turned to Emily.

“I am feeling a little hot, Miss Osbourne. I wonder if I might go and fetch some water. The footman over there has a tray of refreshments.”

Emily hesitated. Etiquette dictated that the ladies should remain at their table, but Belinda was looking rather flushed.

“All right, but come straight back.”

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 tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.