The End Of The Rainbow – Episode 56

Louisa gave a nod as Sir Hugh’s coachman handed her into the carriage. As she settled herself beside Emmeline, she opened her parasol and tilted it against the sun.The coachman turned.“Out on to the coach road, ma’am, or round the estate?”Louisa didn’t give Emmeline time to reply.“The estate.” Having seen the vast property of Sir Hugh Glenavon, she couldn’t resist a second look.Her companion smiled to herself. Louisa Tarrant-Smyth was certainly revelling in her visit to Sir Hugh’s country house. As the carriage turned on to one of the paths that criss-crossed the estate, Louisa turned to look at the elegant house with its Georgian frontage.“Sir Hugh has excellent taste for a self-made man,” she murmured.Emmeline smiled again. Her friend was such a frightful snob at times!Louisa leaned forward.“A leisurely drive, if you please,” she commanded the coachman.He slowed the horse to a walking pace, allowing her to take stock of the expanse of manicured lawns, the weathered red-brick wall bounding the kitchen garden, the roofs of the home farm peeping from a distant hollow and the pedigree herd grazing in a meadow nearby. The house, she reflected, was more than twice the size of the Grange, the grounds far more extensive.Here, on the Clyde coast, was proof that not only was he a man of taste and discrimination, but he was also very rich!****Louisa thought fleetingly of Constance and Josh that night at Sir Hugh’s club. Remembering how they’d whispered, their heads together, she smiled in satisfaction.“They are very close, you know,” she said aloud.“Who?” Emmeline was puzzled.“Constance and Josh, of course. I must confess that I have hopes there, Emmeline.”On the way back, the ladies alighted a little way from the house, on Emmeline’s suggestion, so that they could walk back, enjoying more of the views of the Clyde and the refreshing air that wafted in from the river.“It will sharpen our appetite for dinner this evening,” she told Louisa, “and won’t it be pleasant to have William and Hugh’s company in that huge dining-room! I’m so glad that their business in Glasgow is finished, and that they can join us for the last evening of our little holiday.”“Just think, Emmeline, some day, my daughter could be the wife of Josh Glenavon, and chatelaine of all this!” Louisa swept her parasol in a wide arc.Her friend felt a jolt of alarm. She had made her own observations about the young people. What was more, Letty, confiding in her about their trip to Paris, had confirmed that it was Adam, not Josh, who was the object of Constance’s affection.“We must leave the young people to their own affairs, Louisa,” was all she could manage. “Time alone will tell.” As they took tea in the orangery Louisa spoke for the first time about Letty’s trip to Paris with Constance.“Letty can be very impulsive, you know,” she told Emmeline.“When she came to tell me that she wanted to travel to the Continent to improve her knowledge of art, I couldn’t believe my ears. She was so excited talking of Florence, Paris and all the art galleries.“And wasn’t it typical of Constance to offer to accompany her! Mind you, I did warn Letty that I didn’t want Constance to do the complete Grand Tour. I intend to take that along with her, once she finishes her studies at the school of art which will be soon, I hope.”She sipped her tea before continuing, while Emmeline said nothing, thinking it the safest option.“Constance has been working too hard and is looking rather fragile, so a little holiday will be of benefit to her, too. They’re taking along that little girl, Kirsty Gray, so the practical side of things will be well attended to.”She leaned forward.“I think Letty was on the point of inviting me to join her on the Paris jaunt, but I informed her that Sir Hugh had invited me to spend some time here in your company, Emmeline.” She simpered slightly. “I think she may have been slightly put out by that.”Emmeline glanced at her fob watch.“Goodness! Is that the time? We must compose ourselves for a little nap before dressing for dinner, Louisa.”Upstairs, reposing on the chaise longue, Louisa sighed with sheer contentment, allowing herself to drift off into a delicious daydream. In it, she had been driven up the sweeping avenue lined with elms, and was at this moment alighting from her carriage at the entrance to the Glenavon residence. On the steps, her daughter, mistress of the house, stood ready to greet her . . .


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