The Ladies Of Eastgarrow – Episode 11

Thomas described their investigation, such as it was, and Lady Louisa listened. Jenny brought coffee and a shawl for her mistress, and Celestine sat on the lowest step as he talked, gazing at him adoringly.“If Patrick died,” Lady Louisa said in a dull voice, “because he was soon to be elevated to a title, then it is dreadful. I told him that this title was nothing to me duke or goatherd, I didn’t care which he was. If only whoever did this could have heard me, Thomas! If only.”“It’s just plain wicked,” Celestine said from her seat on the staircase. “I can hardly believe it.”“But we cannot be sure, my Lady,” Em said.“It is most important,” Jenny said, “that you try to rest, my Lady, and be at peace in your mind.”“But Thomas and Em must continue to investigate,” Lady Louisa said. She turned to the tutor. “Will you?”Thomas nodded slowly. “I am sure there must be other places to ask questions, at least to discover if your fianc, my Lady, had enemies.”“Impossible,” Lady Louisa said.“Mama adored Patrick,” Celestine added. She stood up, the folds of her pale pink satin dress falling to the ground and her face anxious. “But, Mama, do you think Mr Meredith should take the risk? If there are these violent men out there, is he not in danger, like Patrick?”Em smiled to herself. Celestine had eyes and thoughts only for her beloved. It was a wonder that her mother failed to notice.“If there are killers still in the vicinity,” Thomas said, “they’ll have no interest in me. I will at least do a little more work, if Emma is permitted to help me.”Lady Louisa gave consent before Celestine had time to object. It was time to dress for dinner. Em helped her mistress. Celestine took every care with her dress these days, Em noticed. The only other diner now was her tutor, whose status allowed him to eat with the ladies.“I will wear the blue,” she said, “and have we a spare ribbon, Em?”Em stopped in her work of smoothing a petticoat. “I think there may be some in the work box,” she said, surprised. “But this gown needs no decoration.”Celestine ran her hand down her throat. “In Brighton, Eastbourne and London ladies are wearing ribbons around their necks in sympathy with those who have lost their heads in France. Did you know?”Em gasped and Celestine turned to her.“Yes, Em. They have imprisoned noble men and women across France, just because of their birth, and I learned in a letter from my cousin at Chiswick that lately they have beheaded some of the nobility. It’s getting very bad.” She looked back at the mirror as Em, with her hand trembling a little, drew a black ribbon around Celestine’s neck.“I don’t care to put this ribbon around your neck, Miss Celestine,” Em said softly. “It’s a dark business.”“Nonsense! Do as you’re told. It is an homage, a sign of sympathy. Of course in Paris the ribbons are red, but I choose black.” She played with her lovely brown hair. “Tom will notice the choker, I’m sure,” she said. “It becomes me.”


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