The End Of The Rainbow – Episode 18

Constance hurried back to the Grange, checking her watch as she slipped in at the back door. There was no-one in the kitchen, and the whole house seemed very quiet, with none of the usual morning sounds. She stepped, soft-footed, across the hall.“Constance.”Her mother’s voice brought her to a sudden halt. She turned. The drawing-room door was open and her mother was sitting with her back to the window, obviously waiting for her.“Come here. I wish to speak to you. And close the door behind you.”Heart hammering, Constance did as she was told. Her mama was obviously furious, her tone cold and distant, two red spots of anger on her cheeks.“I am told that you have been seen dallying with a farm boy.”There was a pause. Constance floundered in a sea of silence for a moment. Lily, she reflected, had obviously wasted no time.“It is true that I met a friend from art school this morning. He’s an artist, not a farm boy. One of a group of artists who have come to the village for the summer to paint.” Mrs Tarrant-Smyth’s expression did not change.“I would remind you, Constance, that I have a position to maintain, both in society and here in the Grange. As my daughter, you share that standing. Whether your companion was an artist or a farm boy is beside the point. That your behaviour was the subject of servants’ gossip is completely unacceptable!”Constance was dumbfounded. She had never seen her mother so enraged.“But, Mama, I simply met a friend! Our paths crossed, that was all . . .”Her mother cut across her protest. “The situation is easily resolved. You will not be returning to Glasgow at the end of the summer. Your time at art school is over!”****Louisa Tarrant-Smyth dabbed her eyes with a lace-trimmed handkerchief.“I’m at my wits’ end, Letty,” she said in a small voice. “My daughter has taken to avoiding me at every opportunity. I scarcely see her, apart from mealtimes, when she says very little. I shudder to think of how she will behave when my house-guests arrive!”Miss Letitia Primrose sipped her tea in silence for a few moments. She had been summoned by her oldest friend to discuss her goddaughter’s behaviour. To take sides would be dangerous.“Constance has certainly grown into a very spirited young woman,” she said eventually.“Stubborn,” the other corrected her.“She knows her own mind, that’s all, Louisa. And she is more than usually artistic.” Constance’s mother glared at her friend.“I should have known that you’d take her part, Letty. You have always spoiled her.”“She is my only godchild. I have a right to indulge her a little. But, spoilt? No, Louisa. One of the many lovely things about Constance is that no-one could spoil her. You are very lucky to have a daughter like her.”Letty sounded so wistful that Louisa Tarrant-Smyth felt a slight pang of guilt. Her friend had never married.“I lost the only man I ever cared for,” she had said once, in an unguarded moment. And, where Letitia Primrose was concerned, it was not wise to pry.Letty put down her cup and folded her hands in her lap.“Now, Louisa. Stop snivelling and let’s work out the best way forward. But, before we do, I must tell you that I think you are quite wrong to tell Constance she can’t go back to Glasgow. Good heavens, Louisa, it won’t be long until women have the vote! Girls today are growing up in a completely different world from ours. They are claiming their rights and about time, too!”She had grown quite pink with her outburst and sat back, waiting for a response. Looking at her, Louisa had to stifle a smile. Dear Letty, who looked like a little china doll with an aureole of silver hair, was both practical and determined. One thing was certain. She would know what to do . . .“Listen carefully, Louisa.” Letty’s tone did not invite argument. “I have a plan.”


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