The End Of The Rainbow – Episode 20

Lunch was a leisurely affair. There was pt, chicken in aspic with vegetables from the garden, a feather-light lemon mousse and strawberries with cream. Wine was brought in an ice-bucket, and there was a jug of lemon refresher for those who preferred it.Kirsty waited table with praiseworthy efficiency, pausing only once with indrawn breath as Josh addressed her by name.“Do you know Kirsty, then?” Mrs Tarrant-Smyth had noticed.Josh smiled.“Constance mentioned her earlier, and I have a great memory for names.”Constance looked quite lovely today, Adam reflected, sitting opposite her. She had brushed out her hair and it tumbled in pale beauty over her shoulders. Against the white muslin of her dress her skin was golden, sun-kissed.She said little, but her eyes were sparkling as she exchanged glances with him. He wished that they were alone, sitting together on the river bank that he could take her in his arms again, and kiss her as he’d done that moonlit night.“Stop staring!” Bending to collect his plate, his little sister whispered ferociously in his ear.With a start, he realised that Miss Letty was speaking to him.“Josh tells me that you won the Year Prize at Art School?” She cocked her head to the side like a little bird. “I was just saying to dear Louisa that it might be a splendid idea if you were to paint a portrait of Constance over the summer.”There was a sudden hush as “dear Louisa” fixed a gimlet glance on Letty trying, too late, to silence her.“What a grand idea!” Josh rushed to the rescue. “Out here under the sycamore tree, perhaps? Also,” he rushed on, “I could paint you, Mrs Tarrant-Smyth, but in the drawing-room, as befits the lady of the house.”Miss Letty clapped her hands in delight.“Oh, Louisa! You’ve always wanted to have your portrait painted and hung above the fireplace in the drawing-room. Why, it was your poor, dear husband’s intention before . . .”Josh rescued her as she floundered.“I’m sure I could make time for some sittings over the summer, Mrs Tarrant-Smyth even though I’m not the Year prizewinner!” He directed a winning smile at his hostess. “You would make a wonderful subject with your particularly aristocratic profile, if I may be so bold.”At that, his hostess seemed to forget all about her daughter’s portrait, and engaged herself in discussion with Josh and Miss Letty of colours which might suit her best for the portrait.As the last of the lemon refresher was taken, Miss Letty suggested that Constance might like to show the garden to her friends.“Let us go indoors, Louisa, for a delicious little gossip and perhaps another cup of tea. This afternoon sun is a trifle too strong for both of us.”Passing Constance on the way indoors, she darted a secret smile at her goddaughter.“Thank you, Aunt Letty, you’re a little love,” Constance whispered.“That’s as may be, young lady. I’m certainly not blind,” came the whispered reply.The gardens were extensive and fringed by a copse of larch and beech trees, a shady path winding towards the distant stone wall which bounded the small estate.Josh stayed with Constance and Adam until they were out of sight of the Grange. “I think I’ll explore,” he said suddenly. “Have a look at the kitchen garden and the greenhouses.”Adam put his arm round Constance’s shoulder.“Thanks, Josh.”


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