When Emily had arrived in New York she’d been surprised to learn she’d be sharing a room. She’d got used to being on her own at Farrington House, and what if her companion was like Hester, Lady Farrington’s sour-faced maid? But worries were forgotten the moment she’d met Molly. Both girls missed their families, and it had helped to share tears and laughter. By the time Emily left for Newport, they’d become firm friends.
To Emily’s surprise, returning to New York had felt like a kind of homecoming. Lately she’d had the strange feeling she’d become several people. There was the Emily who felt quite at home in the opulent rooms of Farrington House, working with Jenny as a valued designer. There was this new Emily, who found the bustle of New York too exciting to be frightening. But there was still the Emily who had grown up in a cottage so tiny it could fit inside Lady Florence’s bedroom, with enough space around it for Sarah to peg out Dad’s shirts.
She thought of the cottage on a wet day, when the laundry would be hanging across the kitchen so that it was difficult to find a space to prick out gloves. It seemed a lifetime ago. What had happened to the girl who had ridden in the trap next to Will? Had she left that Emily behind? She missed her family with all her heart, but although she ached to know about Will, she also realised there had been many days when she hadn’t thought of him at all.
“Emily?” Molly jostled her arm. “You’ve been away with the fairies! Are you letting that boy and his flying machine spoil your day? You’ll never get a field ploughed by turning it over in your mind. When we get back, write that letter!” Molly finished the soda with a slurp, and both girls laughed.
Emily paid the bill, and the girls drifted from one room of the magnificent store to the next. Of everything they saw, it was the bolts of fabric that lingered in Emily’s mind long after they’d glided down in the escalator and joined the throngs of people in the street.
Emily saw a tiny shop wedged between two buildings.
“What a beautiful window,” she said, looking at a collection of exquisite baby clothes and a lacy neglige. She cupped her hand over her brow, shielding her eyes from the reflection as she looked into the shop itself. The colourful displays lit up the room and beyond she could see a lady sitting at a sewing machine.
“Oh, Molly, do you think she owns the shop? I wonder if she made everything herself? Imagine owning such a place!”
“No time to imagine anything!” Molly pointed up to the street clock.
“I must get changed before the ladies get back from the Vanderbilt luncheon!”
They ran for the omnibus, and half an hour later they slipped upstairs to the servants’ quarters.
Emily scrambled into her uniform and tore down the stairs to Lady Farrington’s suite. To her relief, the ladies had not yet returned, and she stepped into the room to see if there was anything to tidy.
She stopped in her tracks. On a silver tray was an envelope with an English stamp, addressed in spidery writing that was all too familiar. Hester. A lady’s maid writing to Lady Farrington? What could this possibly mean?