A Tale of Two Sisters – Episode 03

The two sisters with their neighbour, Mr Herbert Markington

As Violet rose to leave, she glanced at the photograph on Millicent’s desk.

“Is that your sister?” she exclaimed. “How beautiful she is.”

“Yes, that is my younger sister, Lucinda.”

As she mentioned her name, Millicent’s heart sank.

She would miss her terribly, but Lucinda had refused to speak to her since their argument, let alone come on the carriage ride to bid her farewell.

How she wished they had not fallen out so close to her departure.

She sighed and shook herself. She must not let the rift distress her. She was sure it would be temporary.

She and Lucinda had always been close, the more so for lack of a mother.

Somehow they would heal the breach.

She put a smile on her face and determined to get ready for the principal’s meeting.

She was about to find out more about what her future held and she could not wait to begin.

“I shall see you in ten minutes, Millicent.”

“Thank you, Violet. I am so glad to have met you.”

Violet smiled at her and disappeared through the doorway, leaving Millicent alone in her new domain once more.

Mr Reginald Fenton put down his top hat with a sigh of contentment and looked about his rooms. It was good to be back.

The holiday had seemed to drag by and he was glad to be at college rather than dealing with his mother’s dramatics and his brothers’ pranks.

He pulled off his jacket, rolled up his shirt sleeves and sank down into an armchair by the window.

He had excellent rooms looking out over the quadrangle, and he watched as the other gentlemen arrived with their entourages, calling out greetings and slapping one another on the back.

Soon there was a knock on his door and Oliver’s head appeared around the frame.

“Reggie, you’re back! How good to see you.”

“Oliver, come in.” Reginald rose to his feet and shook his friend’s hand.

“How was your journey? Have you been back long?”

Oliver laughed and stroked his moustache.

“Got here this morning. Settled in and been for a stroll along the river. I’ve been waiting for you to turn up.”

“Well, take a seat. Let me see if I can dig out some brandy.”

Reginald bustled about for a bit and, not long after, the two young men were seated opposite one another, each with a glass in hand.

“It seems like for ever since we were last up.”

“It does. I can’t tell you how glad I am to get away from my sisters.” Oliver sighed and shook his head, but there was a twinkle in his eye.

Reginald knew that Oliver was very fond of his sisters. He was the only son of five children and they spoiled him rotten.

“How are they?” Reginald asked. “Is Mabel much grown?”

Mabel was Oliver’s youngest and favourite sister. She was fourteen and a mischievous sprite.

“Good lord, is she ever? Poor girl seems formed in my mould. She’ll end up as tall as me, if she doesn’t watch out.”

Reginald hoped not. Oliver was a very tall man, with sandy blond hair and an elegant moustache.

If Mabel grew too much, it would be difficult for her to make an eligible match when the time came.

“What about you, Reggie? Everything all right at Gradingly Place?”

“Much as usual. Mama has been fractious all summer and the boys are an increasing handful.

“It’s Francis who is giving me most concern. His japes threaten to go beyond what is acceptable.”

Reginald smiled at his friend, but he was genuinely concerned about his younger sibling.

Mama had neither the sense nor resolve to deal with him, and sorting Francis out would fall to him, like everything else.

He had been forced to shoulder much responsibility from a young age.

As the eldest of four sons, following his father’s death most decisions had come into his remit.

His mother ran the household, but even there he was forced to keep a watchful eye, due to her tendency for extravagance and forgetfulness.

He sighed. This was his final year at Oxford. Goodness knows how he would manage when he had to return home full time.

“Any idea what we shall get up to this year?” he asked his friend.

“Much the same as usual, I daresay,” Oliver replied. “Plenty of academic study, which you will enjoy.

“I, for one, intend to row again this year, and I thought I might join the theatrical society.”

“You’re on your own there.” Reginald laughed.

“Though I promise to watch you perform and to refrain from throwing rotten fruit.”

“I knew I could count on you.” Oliver grinned. “There is something else I forgot to mention, though I don’t suppose you’ll like it.”

Reginald raised an eyebrow.

To be continued…

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