Em visited her mother and father, and a fine time they had. She also walked the few miles over the fields to the grand house where her sister was a chambermaid. The two young women wandered in the grounds of the house and talked.“When did this crime occur?” her sister Rebecca asked. “Has Lady Louisa begun to recover? I don’t know that I ever could from such a shock.”“It was the third Friday in September,” Em said. “I will never forget those men toiling into the great hall with his body.”“That was the day of the Michaelmas Fair at Hastings,” Rebecca said. “What a sad event to mark a pleasant holiday.”“Miss Celestine has always enjoyed the fair,” Em said, looking across the meadow.Rebecca nodded. “I did think it was a pity that your mistress did not ride here that day to join her cousins at the fair. The young ladies always take home the funny little posy of wheat to mark the end of harvest. Oh, I must tell you: my mistress, Miss Francis, refused the posy this year. She stated it was a tradition fit only for children! You know that she’s in love with the parson at St Cecilia’s and is throwing off everything she considers childish ”“Miss Celestine did come to Hastings that day, Becky,” Em corrected her. “I am sure that the harvest posy was on her dressing-table later that evening. I know I would find it among her things if I looked.”Rebecca frowned. “Well, you must be right. All the girls in their silks begin to look alike to me. I dressed the hair of such a bevy of them that morning! Girls come in from all the houses round about, so that I can’t name them all!”
Back at Eastgarrow Court, Celestine asked Em and Jenny how she thought her mother’s mood could be improved.“I think her colour is better,” Celestine said one morning, “but her spirits are still low.” She sat while the two maids changed her bed linen. “I think I will ask for the correspondence that took place between Patrick and that lawyer in Paris. I feel that to establish the fact of his title, even now that he is gone, will provide something more of him for Mama to remember.”Jenny laid down the bolster she was plumping. “But my Lady didn’t seem concerned that Mr Delaine was nobility,” she said.“I know, Jenny.” Celestine’s eyes smarted with tears. “But it’s something for me to do. I feel useless.” She put her hands over her face.As soon as the linen was changed and Em had helped her dress, Celestine took the letters from among the belongings of Patrick Delaine. Lady Louisa had not had them removed yet.“I will take them back to my room and read them,” Celestine said. “I will compose a letter in French to this lawyer, and tell all, and he will help me. My French is quite good enough now.”As they crossed the hall back to the staircase, Thomas came through the front door, flushed and handsome from a morning walk.“Did I hear French mentioned?” he said, smiling at the two young women. “It’s not lesson time, Miss Celestine, so I am delighted that you wish to learn.”Celestine walked up to Thomas eagerly, her packet of documents clasped to her breast.“I am always willing to learn,” she said, smiling up at him. “With you.”Em saw them in the study through the open door. Celestine, giggling at whatever Thomas was saying, laid the papers down on a side table and flung herself into a chair, arranging her lovely hair as she did so. She glanced in the tall mirror which hung over the fireplace, seeing how well she looked.