Life At Babcock Manor – Episode 34


The child had been taken back to Elsa’s mother and, when he heard what had happened, Dr Craven had insisted that a small amount of money be sent each month so that she would not be in hardship. The young maid would be allowed to visit her son each Wednesday evening, as well as the usual Sunday afternoons, if she wished.

“What are we to do, James? I cannot send my wife to the sanatorium. I will not.”

“Then we shall make sure that we care for her here, Cedric. I believe that your wife has never properly grieved for her son – and neither have you, I think.”

Emily watched Dr Craven’s eyebrows raise as James continued.

“Have you ever talked about what happened? Together, I mean.”

Dr Craven shook his head sadly.

“I did not want to distress her more than was necessary.”

“Then I believe this shall be a start. Speak to her of Freddie and remember the short time you had with him. I can’t guarantee the outcome, but my belief is that it is very important for you both to grieve together.”

“You are a good man, James,” Dr Craven said, standing up from his chair, “and a wise one. I shall visit my wife this very minute. If you will excuse me, Miss Osbourne.”

He left the room and James stood up and walked to the window.

“It is beautiful on the cusp of winter, is it not?”

“I love every season, for they all have their beauties.”

He turned suddenly from the scene as if vexed by it, and studied her face. There was an unusual brightness in his eyes.

“In six weeks’ time I am leaving.”

Emily was surprised; she had thought him settled at Wenton, but the city was not so far away now the new toll road had opened.

“You are returning to London?”

James shook his head.

“I am to go to the Crimea.”

“To fight?” A fear gripped Emily’s heart.

“No. A new hospital is being built in Scutari and they will be in need of good doctors. I feel it is my duty to go.”

Emily bent her head so that James would not see the tears in her eyes.

“So we must say goodbye.”

“No, you have it all wrong.” James was at her side. He knelt and took her hands. “Dear Emily, that is not what I mean. I feel that ever since I met you I have loved you. I want you to come with me.”

Emily looked up and saw the earnestness in his eyes. Confusion filled her.

“But, James, how?”

“I want you to come with me as my friend, my confidante. My wife. If you will have me.”

As he traced a tear that had fallen down her cheek and gently touched his lips to hers, Emily knew what her answer would be.

****

The bells rang out across the valley as the coachman clicked at the horses and the open carriage swayed along the rutted path. To either side, beneath the trees, the ground was a sea of bluebells, their heady scent filling the air.

“Let us stop a moment.”

Emily sat with her gloved hand in her husband’s and together they turned and looked back at the red-bricked house that had become her home.

Its door and double row of tall sash windows, glinting in the afternoon sunlight, were just as she remembered when she had arrived as a new governess. How long ago it seemed.

A procession of villagers and many of the staff of Babcock Manor had lined the verges of the lane, calling out their good wishes and throwing rice.

One face caught her attention, her pale freckled face smiling out from a mass of ginger curls that would not be tamed beneath her hat.

By her side stood a young footman, with a cheeky smile, his arm was around her waist and he looked fondly at her.

Emily lifted her bouquet of white roses.

“Jenny,” she said. “These are for you!”

She tossed the bouquet, with their blue silk ribbon, to the young maid, and for a moment, as they sailed through the air, it was as if time had slowed.

Jenny caught them and held them to her chest, a smile breaking out across her face.

“Good luck, miss!”

“You, too, Jenny.”

Emily nodded to the driver and the carriage moved forward. She leant her head against her husband’s shoulder and, as Babcock Manor disappeared into the distance, she knew she was at the start of a new adventure.

The End.

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”.