The End Of The Rainbow – Episode 33

Letty had been dropping hints about visiting Constance since September. In the end, she abandoned the hints and informed her god-daughter that she would be arriving at two o’clock on Saturday. It was some weeks before Christmas, and there were piles of slush in the streets and flurries of snow as she was helped down from the carriage. Apple-cheeked with excitement, she was wearing velvet with a fur muff.Constance ran through the hall to greet her.“I’ve missed you, Aunt Letty,” was all she could manage before she felt unexpected tears well up. Letty held her at arm’s length.“You are far too thin, young lady. And you’re pale.”“I am well and happy, Aunt Letty.” Constance’s voice held just a hint of defiance.The visitor was ushered upstairs to the sitting-room, which had been brightened up for the occasion with bright shawls thrown over the sofa and chairs, a Chinese vase of peacock feathers borrowed from Constance’s landlady, Miss Downie, and an arrangement of fans placed above the mantel.“Very arty, but homely,” was the verdict.Removing her coat and shivering just a little, Letty anounced that she wanted to see the studio.“It’s cold up there on a day like this, Aunt Letty,” Constance prevaricated, trying to remember just how untidy the attic room was.“I particularly want to see some of your paintings, my dear,” came the reply as Miss Letty made for the stairs.“That’s Adam’s work, isn’t it?” Letty indicated the clutter of paints and canvases at the far end of the room.“Yes. He and Josh work here sometimes.”Letty darted a glance at her.“And what of Adam, Constance?”“He’s well, and working hard. He stopped for a few weeks when his mother was so ill, but . . .”Letty pretended not to notice the hesitation.“And you all sold lots of paintings at your exhibition, I hear. Your mama seemed pleased by that.”Constance had moved to the window, her face closed.“Come and look at the view, Aunt Letty. You can see right out over the city from this window.”Letty was astute enough to keep the conversation general after that and, indeed, there was little space for the exchange of confidences. Miss Downie had baked a cake, and insisted that Constance bring her visitor into the parlour for afternoon tea. Before they knew it, it was time for Constance to dress for dinner. Letty was a guest at present of Uncle William and Aunt Emmeline, and it was there they were to dine. As she and Miss Downie chatted politely, waiting for Constance to come downstairs, Letty gently prised some information from the landlady.“I hope the young people aren’t too noisy of an evening.” She nodded up at the ceiling. “Constance’s sitting-room being immediately above your parlour.”Miss Downie smiled.“Dear Constance doesn’t hold with socialising. Her two friends come and go, but always up to the studio to work. Half the time, Constance isn’t here at all, but down at the art school taking some extra class or other. She is very responsible, you know.”


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