The Legend Of Wychwood Manor – Episode 10

Characters from the serial, Belle on a horse and Jean guiding it.
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She closed her eyes and let her body go limp, hoping Ellen would think she was too ill to carry on the conversation.

But Ellen was not to be put off. Her voice rose another octave.

“You don’t fool me, Lil.”

With a sigh, Lil opened one eye a crack and saw Ellen standing, hands on hips, her face so cross and red that it suddenly seemed ridiculous.

Lil knew it would just make matters worse if she laughed, but she couldn’t help it. A giggle escaped.

“That’s right, make fun of me. I suppose you think he’s yours for the taking,” Ellen said bitterly.

Lil shook her head.

“You’ve got me confused with someone else. I’m not so desperate that I need to run after anybody.”

“Oh, really,” Ellen said sarcastically. “You like to keep them dangling, is that it?

“Flirt and get them to bring you flowers, but give them nothing in return? Is that the Lunnon way?

“You should be ashamed of yourself.”

“Flowers?” Lil looked askance at the jug. “Aren’t these from Miss Belle?”

“No,” Ellen said. “He picked them for you this morning.”


“Oh, don’t pretend you don’t know who I’m talking about. Elias, the poor lovestruck fool.” Ellen turned on her heel and flounced out of the room.

Lil looked at the flowers, frowning. She’d never been given flowers before.

Blows and harsh words and once a gold locket from the man who’d hung her out to dry, the man she’d . . .

Don’t go there, she told herself. You’ll drive yourself mad, you know you will.

She reached out her hand. It would be the work of a moment to knock the jug to the floor, but the flowers would wither and die without water and they were so pretty, she couldn’t bring herself to do it.

She fell asleep looking at them, a faint smile curving her lips.

Lil soon recovered, but her duties kept her busy, so Belle was often left to her own devices which, on wet days, meant raiding the shelves of Wychwood’s library.

She was on her way there when she met Miss Manners bringing down Aunt Flora’s lunch tray.

“How is Aunt Flora?” Belle asked. “Will I be able to visit her soon?”

“Not till I say so. A visit from you would undo all the progress she’s made,” Miss Manners replied shortly. Her dismissive attitude angered Belle.

Why did everybody at Wychwood treat her like a child? Hurt and upset, Belle forgot caution.

“I saw you, you know.”

Miss Manners froze. She turned and glared at Belle.

“What do you mean?”

“I saw you come through the field gate on Sunday.

“You weren’t in the churchyard, but somewhere else, somewhere you wanted to keep secret.”

The nurse looked at Belle with contempt.

“So you were spying on me?”

“I wasn’t,” Belle said hotly. “I just happened to notice you.”

“And I suppose you’ll tell your uncle now?” Miss Manners said with a sneer.

“No. Why should I? What you get up to is no concern of mine.”

Miss Manners stared into Belle’s face and her tense body slowly relaxed. She rubbed her forehead.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have accused you like that, but it’s hard to know who to trust in a place like this.”

She gave an uncertain smile.

“I believe that somewhere else you and I might have become friends, but I am your aunt’s nurse and I have . . . certain duties and loyalties.

“My position in the house holds me to a line that I cannot step over, even should I wish to.” She gave a heavy sigh.

“You must believe me when I say that I pity your situation, but do not look to me for friendship. That can never be, not at Wychwood.”

To be continued…

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