The Best Of Both Worlds – Episode 57

“It’s my fault, Sarah. How could I have let her go?” Joseph pounded his fist on the table.

He closed his eyes against the pain and put his head in his hands.

Sarah sat down beside him and put her hand softly on his shoulder. He’d been so distant ever since they’d heard the terrible news. She had longed to comfort him, for them to share together their fear and dread, but he’d only cursed himself and had barely spoken.

“You must stop blaming yourself, Joseph,” she said. “It was a wonderful opportunity for Emily. She would have been terribly disappointed if you hadn’t allowed her to go.” She paused, weighing her words. “We may hear from them any day now. We must have faith.”

He shook his head and turned away. The icy fear of how Joseph could possibly cope was written all over his haunted face. Though he loved all of his children, Emily was the apple of his eye, however unfair that might be. It was in her that he saw his beloved Elizabeth, and Sarah had always been filled with gratitude that knowing this had somehow never been a source of envy or pain for her. She simply loved them both too much for that.

She took a deep breath, willing herself to be strong. She knew that, just now, trying to find even the tiniest opening into Joseph’s heart would be energy wasted . . .

From outside the cottage came the scrape of wheels and a jingling of harness, and Sarah went to the window.

“Joseph, it’s the countess. She’s come to call!”

He leaped to his feet, his face reddening.

“Over my dead body! If it weren’t for those Farringtons, my little girl would be home, where she belongs. That woman can turn right round, and . . .”

“Joseph, for heaven’s sake!” Indignation and reason replaced her anguish. “She has come here out of respect and concern, no doubt.”

Sarah went to the door, and opened it just as the countess had reached to knock.

“Mrs Callow, I . . .” Thea looked into Sarah’s eyes, lines of worry between her brows. Then she simply said, “I am so sorry.”

“It’s very kind of you to call, my lady.” Sarah was aware of Joseph’s eyes boring into her back. “Won’t you come in?” She wiped her hands on her apron and cast her eyes round the cramped kitchen. “I have only brack to offer you. I baked it yesterday and I’m afraid it will be dry ”

“How kind of you, Mrs Callow.” Thea remembered the copper pots hanging over the range, the laundry strung across the tiny, dark room. But how homey it was. She gazed at little Joey, curled up asleep in front of the fire, then at Joseph, who had got to his feet and stood stony-faced by the table.

“I cannot tell you how sorry I am, Mr Callow. And I want you to know that we are doing everything in our power to locate your dear Emily, and my family-in-law. My father has been making enquiries from New York, and my husband is leaving for California in a few days.”

Joseph stared silently into her face, his eyes dark and sullen.

“We appreciate this more than we can tell you, my lady, don’t we, Joseph?” Sarah said quickly. “Please, will you sit down? Are you warm enough? It’s chilly for spring. Joseph, perhaps you could put some more coal on.”

“I’ve got things to attend to. Excuse me.”


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