Pixies and Pickles- Part 22


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(The following evening)

“Oh Edward, are you sure that this dress is not too much?”

“My dear, you could not look more ravishing if you tried!”

I feel awful you know. I have barely seen Rupert and Diana today, Miss Douglas keeps them so busy doesn’t she?”

“Yes I suppose she does.”

“Shall we say goodnight to the children before we leave? They must be in the nursery, it is 7pm.”

**

“Oh Miss Douglas.” Miss Douglas curtsied.

“Good evening Ma’am and Sir. I was just seeing that the children were settled.”

“How are the three of you getting along?”

“Swimmingly Sir.”

Rupert rolled his eyes, turning to face the wall.

“Oh yes!” Diana smiled. “We had a very interesting time. Yesterday afternoon we captured insects in bottles, studied them and then drew them. It was wonderful Mother and today we looked at a map of the world. “

“And tell me, what have you learnt? What is the capital of India?”

“New Delhi.”

“How clever you are! That is correct. Rupert?”

“Yes Mother?”

“Is all alright?”

“Yes, I am tired. Goodnight.”

“Well my dears, we shall kiss you both before we go. Goodnight.”

Diana held her close. “Mummy, you look like a princess.” She whispered.

“I love you, sleep well.” Lucinda reciprocated the hug and took hold of Edwards hand.

Look at me getting all silly and emotional. Thank you Miss Douglas, I can see that this is going to be a very positive experience for the children. It will do them the world of good. Come along Edward my dear, our carriage awaits.”

**

“Pssst! Rupert?”

“What?”

“What do you suppose Miss Douglas is doing, now we are in bed?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, shouldn’t she be looking after us?”

“No, we are not babies any more.”

“I know.”

“She’s queer Diana.”

“So are you, and mouldy!”

“Oh don’t start this again, you’ll make me very mad Diana!”

**

Oh Edward, are you sure that this was a good idea. This is new and probably not used to our children.”

“Please don’t worry, we have plenty of other servants should anything go wrong.”

“Wrong? Oh good Lord anything could happen!”

“I doubt that, come along my dear, we are here now.”

“I can’t help but feeling very nervous. The thought of being in a room filled with fine people makes me feel somewhat scared.”

“You very accomplished yourself.”

“No, I can’t play the piano half as well as Annabella does, athough I do love my dress so. At least I shall look alright in some respect. We are here now.”

The young couple was shown into one of the fine rooms by a butler. “This house makes ours look like a matchbox.”

Edward’s face fell. “You are not happy with our home?”

“Oh, forgive me. This is just larger that’s all. I have heard Edward, that homes of this size can be considerably cold and draughty  even in the middle of Summer. Oh look! There is Annabella , oh doesn’t she look splendid, her hair must have taken hours!”

“Oh Lucinda and Edward, there you are I was frightened that you would not come!”

“Why is that?”

“Because of your children.”

“Oh, well my dear Annabella, we now have a Governess. Her name is Miss Douglas.”

“Oh indeed! How do you find her?”

“Very amiable.” Edward smiled.

“Yes quite.” Lucinda agreed, fanning herself. “She seems to be a very accomplished, intelligent young woman who uses a range of teaching methods.”

“Oh really, how so?”

“Well, for example, today, she took Rupert and Diana into the garden to collect some nature specimens, which they studied once they were back in the classroom.”

“I see Edward and what precisely was her reason behind that?”

“I imagine that she wanted to enlighten them a little.”

“By encouraging them to dirty themselves in the garden?”

“They were perfectly clean on their return.”

“Indeed. You ought to be careful you know.”

“Careful?” Lucinda raised an eyebrow.

“Is there an echo in the room tonight Lucinda?”

“I-I am sorry.”

Yes, you need to be cautious. I have heard that Governesses can be down-right idle or worse; wicked, spiteful creatures.”

“Oh I do not wish to hear this Annabella!”

Edward coughed. “Please, I don’t think this is a necessary subject matter. We must give Miss Douglas a chance. Kindly focus on your own affairs and leave my wife and I to attend ours. Lucinda my love, I am going to find the other gentlemen.”

Hmph! Well Lucinda even though Edward has abandoned you, you must hear it I’m afraid. There’s no point in pulling the wool over your eyes . It happened a few years ago actually. The Governess looked after two boys in Yorkshire who were about the same age as your little ones. It was said afterwards that she resented the Father, possibly because he would not succumb to her desires.”

“Her- her desires?”

“Yes, she had eyes for him the whole time. Any how, do not interrupt me!  At the dead of night, she ensured that all the windows and doors were locked and she set fire to the library. It spread of course and he whole household perished in a matter of 10 minutes. The building burned to the ground!”

To be continued…

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Pixies and Pickles- Part 21


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Cannot tell the time? Goodness, something will have to be done!”

“I hate this! I have done 5 questions and already I have had enough! My head feels like it has a whirlwind inside! I want to run around outside and climb the trees!”

“Shh Rupert.”

“Excuse me master Rupert, but I have been employed to educate you, kindly do what you have been asked. I will help you if you have not completed the questions after the time is up. Are we agreed?”

“Yes Miss.” He grumbled.

“Good, I am glad. Now please, do as you are told young Sir. I do not wish to have to tell you again.”

**

“I don’t like her Diana, I don’t like her at all and I’m going to tell Father and Mother so!”

“Shh, Miss Douglas will hear us!”

“No she wont, she is a few yards ahead and we are whispering.”

“Miss Diana and Master Rupert?” They froze to the spot, staring blankly at her.

As it is a beautiful day, I have decided to resume our lessons in the garden, that is why we are outside. Do you know what resume means?”

They shook their heads. “Well, it means to start from where we had left off.”

“Oh why did Mother and Father make us take lessons together! I do not like it one bit!”

“Well Master Rupert, they think you to be too young to be sent away from your home to a boarding school.  Perhaps they shall send you in another year or so, .”

“Oh.”

“Now then, do you both like nature, does it interest you at all?”

“I hate it! Silly flowers and horrid stinging bumblebees are perfectly dreadful, the thought nature makes me itch!”

“Oh Rupert, do you have to say that? Yes Miss Douglas, I like it very much.”

“She is telling fibs and trying to be teacher’s pet, she does not like it one little bit!”

“No matter, shall we venture into the small side garden? I would like you to identify as many species of insects as wild flowers as you can.”

“But Miss Douglas, we hardly know any of their names.”

That is why you shall collect them in these jars and we shall look them up in my book before letting them go. On returning to the schoolroom, I would like you to draw one object or an insect. You will have something to show your Mother and Father then. Won’t they be pleased?”

“Yes Miss Douglas.”

“Off we go, put on your outdoor coats and I shall place on my shawl, don’t forget your jars now.”

“No Miss.” Diana smiled, secretly taking a shine to her.

As the early afternoon passed, Miss Douglas observed the twins closely, as they searched for their small insects, peering in the small bushes and amongst the beautiful flowers. She gazed up at the grand house, catching a glimpse of Lucinda, gazing down upon them from her bedroom window. Lucinda shied away, turning her back on the small party, who were wandering in the grounds, clutching their precious jam jars of finds.

**

“What is it dear?”

“Nothing Edward, I have to admit that the children look very contented with Miss Douglas. They seem to be on a nature trail of some sorts. She seems to be a very imaginative young woman doesn’t she? Far more so than I.”

“She is a Governess and you are just splendid the way you are. Don’t compare yourself to others in this life,  it is very degrading. I worry that it will damage your confidence.”

I am sorry my dear.”

“Don’t be, but always be your own, sweet self. You should be taking advantage of this time and seeing friends.”

“I know.”

“Having said that, I had almost forgotten, we are dining with George and Annabella tomorrow night are we not?”

“Yes.”

“Well then, it shall be an opportunity to wear that beautiful, new gown of yours.”

“Oh yes, I look forward to wearing it for the occasion.”

“Now my love, I propose that we are to have afternoon tea together, I am rather hungry. Would you ring the bell?”

To be continued…

Pixies and Pickles- Part 20


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“Cook?”

“My goodness Miss Douglas, you are an early riser, it is only  5 am.”

“Oh, I couldn’t sleep, it is all too new and exciting, I always find it difficult to rest properly in a new surrounding.”

“Your room was comfortable?”

“Oh yes, but perhaps a little small, but I’d rather have it way. I hate the cold.”

“Indeed. You are not nervous then Miss?”

“No, not really. Why are you awake?”

I always like to have breakfast before I begin at 5.30am, do you like porridge Miss?”

“I have never liked the texture, but I find it edible. It is rather rough, don’t you think?”

“A little Miss.”

“I am looking forward to meeting the twins for the first time.”

“Hmm, let us just wait and see if you still have the same opinion at the end of the day.”

“Oh dear, are things really so bad?”

“The twins are a handful Miss. Pardon me saying Miss and I wouldn’t want you to repeat this to anyone, but I’d say that they have been in need of a Governess for a long time. I dare say they will send Master Rupert to boarding school in another few years when he is old enough to go.”

“I am their first Governess?”

“Yes.”

“Tell me, what time to the children rise in the morning?”

“Oh I wouldn’t know. Rettie?!”

Rettie scurried in from the scullery. “Yes cook?”

“Do you know what time the children get out of their beds?”

“Whenever they please I suppose. It is normally at some time past 10am. Good morning Miss Douglas.”

“Hello Rettie, 10am? Why, that is very late indeed!”

“Anything else cook?”

“No Rettie, Miss Douglas wanted to know, that is all.”

“Ah Miss?”

“Yes cook?”

“I do believe that you were going to have some of that porridge, here is a bowl.”

“Indeed I was.”

**

“Oh when is she coming to see us Rupert?”

“This morning! I don’t want to do silly lessons.”

“Rupert, don’t be a crosspatch!”

Well if I don’t like her, I might just have to decide to be naughty on purpose!”

“No Rupert, that’s horrid! What about Mother and Father?”

“I don’t care!”

“You should you wicked boy, now behave yourself you silly turnip!”

“Turnip?”

“It-it popped into my head.”

“Strange old girl.”

“Shh, Rupert I hear footsteps it must be the Governess, she is coming!”

“Oh, it is not the Governess, it is Rettie. Rettie, do you have a moment, might we play a 10 minute game of snap? Esther, used to always play with us.”

“Esther  was called away, but she will return soon. Not today master Rupert I’m afraid. There is someone for you both to meet. This is Miss Douglas.”

The tall, raven-haired young woman stepped forwards, the corners of her mouth curling into a smile.

“My, it is a giant!”

“Master Rupert! What a thing to say!”

“Oh don’t worry Rettie, we met yesterday children, didn’t we?”

“Yes.”

Oh, right I wasn’t aware. Well, in that case I had best return to the scullery.”

“Thank you Rettie, we have many lessons to complete this morning.”

Rupert groaned, stamping his foot as Rettie closed the door.

“Young Master Ashdown, that is no way for a young gentleman to behave now is it? Kindly control your temper. You should be eager to learn if you are to be successful like your Father!”

“Father is so busy all the time.”

“Yes, well grown ups often are. Now, this morning I have planned to do some simple arithmetic.”

“Oh no!”

“Oh Rupert hush, give the new lady a chance!”

“Thank you, that is better. Now shall we begin, have you slates and chalk? I can see everything is upon that table, what a lovely school room, it is very organised. Now then, I shall write 20 sums on the blackboard, you have 20 minutes. Tell me this, how long must you spend on each question?”

The twins stared blankly at her. “Oh dear, I see you have much to learn, 20 sums and 20 minutes equals a minute per question. It is now 9am, you have until 9.20am, until the second hand reaches the 4 .No talking please.”

“Miss Douglas?”

“Yes Diana, what is it?”

“If-if you please, I cannot tell the time.”

To be continued…..

Pixies and Pickles- Part 19


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Rettie cleared her throat; “Pardon me asking, as I don’t want you to think me intrusive, but how old are you Miss?”

“17 years of age.”

“My goodness, you are very young, younger than I thought actually.”

“Why, do you think that I look old Rettie?”

“Why no, Miss, I just thought you might be nearer to 20 that’s all.”

“Oh. I’d say that I am mature beyond my years, at least my Mother said so when I was a child.”

“Beg, your pardon Miss?”

“Yes?”

“Oh, um forgive me.” Rettie took a sip of tea. It would not be polite to state that Bessie was still was a child, not being 18 yet.

“Your servant’s quarters could do with a new coat of paint, the walls are becoming quite dingy and faded.”

“Yes I suppose they are Miss. They haven’t been white washed for quite some time, but it is not my place to tell the Master and Mistress.”

“I could say something? They have probably just forgotten.”

“Heavens no! I don’t think that to be a good idea.”

“If you let these things go unmentioned, then nothing will ever get done. Still, as I am new, I suppose that I should bite my tongue. Tell me, what do you do in your spare time?”

I am trying to perfect my reading. On our afternoons off, the servants are allowed to stroll in the grounds. Do you like walking Miss?”

“Yes I do and reading. I could help you one day if you like.”

“I should like that very much, thank you. Tell you what Miss?”

“Yes?”

“Your accent is nicer than mine, it is far more refined than the usual North East accent although, you still have a twang.”

“I had elocution.”

“Really?”

“Yes, my original accent was ghastly, I sounded like a peasant!”

“I guess I sound like a peasant from London then!” Rettie laughed.

“Ah no, not everyone can afford elocution, but my parents thought that it would give me a better chance in life. Mother told me that I had to change my accent, otherwise I would never be hired as a Governess.”

“Oh, I don’t see how that can be true, Governesses are hired from all over the country, but-but.” Rettie froze.

“Well Rettie, thank you for the tea, I have enjoyed talking to you this evening.”

“Can you find your room?”

“Of course.”

“I carried your belongings up there for you earlier, that case of yours was so heavy, what on earth is in it Miss Douglas, a dead body?!”

“I’ll leave that to your imagination! No, no I shall tell you; it is just my clothes and some important keepsakes which are all heavy, not to mention my small collection of art work and book collection. Books are very heavy you know Rettie, 20 of them can amount to some weight!”

“I bet Miss, sorry, I did not mean to pry, do you read a lot Miss?”

“I do, but some are for my lessons with the children. I see that the Ashdown family have a grand library.”

“Oh yes! Although, I seldom go in there, but if you ask, I dare say that the Master and Mistress will allow you to borrow the books for your lessons or even for your own pleasure. I find them to be a very amiable family. The children can be a bit mischievous, but there isn’t a bad bone in either of their bodies.”

“Ah yes, I did hear that they could be naughty, still, nothing that rules and discipline wont sort I suppose.”

“Yes perhaps Miss. Miss, can I ask, what is your first name?”

“It’s Bessie, not even Elizabeth, just pain old Bessie. I have to admit that I do not like my own name, it sounds awfully common. I shall have to say goodnight Rettie, I am very tired and the children’s lessons begin tomorrow, don’t worry, you needn’t show me to my room, I know where to go.”

“Goodnight Miss, I hope you find your time here to be very pleasant.”

“I hope so too, goodnight Rettie.”

To be continued….

Pixies and Pickles- Part 18


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“That was a very warm cuddle my dears. Now up you go, your new Governess shall be here very soon.”

“Yes Mother.”

**

Rupert and Diana peered over the banister from the top of the staircase.

“Careful Rupert, don’t lean so far! You might fall over the edge!”

“Shhhh! Diana, they will hear us!”

“Good Evening, you must be Miss Douglas.”

“I am.”

“Well, we are very pleased to make your acquaintance.”

“Thank you and I yours.”

“Well, do come in, Rupert and Diana are upstairs.”

“I should like to meet them. My, isn’t your house beautiful? Goodness!”

“Thank you. I have to admit to being rather attached to this house, although, it comes from Edward’s side of the family. You will see them shortly. But first, tell me a little about yourself.”

“Well ma’am, I am 17 and well-educated, even though I am from a humble background. There is very little to tell, on the whole I live a very ordinary, unsociable life, although I am never idle.”

“Ah, that is always good. We like our staff to be hard-working.” Edward smiled, placing an arm around Lucinda.

I will go and get the children Miss Douglas, one moment.”

“Please excuse me Sir , but isn’t that not a servant’s job?”

“No, no. Well, not in this household.”

Edward climbed the stairs, knocking on the nursery door. “Children?”

“Yes Father?”

“Miss Douglas is here, come down and meet her my dears, she is to be your new Governess, providing your Mother is happy with her work.”

“Father?” Diana whispered, clutching his hand.

“Yes my pet?”

“Umm, nothing.” Diana’s bottom lip trembled.

“Do not be frightened little one. Come along, shall we go downstairs and be sociable?”

“Yes Father.”

**

Here now, here she is. Children, this is Miss Douglas and Miss Douglas this is Rupert and Diana.” He eased Diana forwards a little.

Oh what beautiful children you have, how very charming!”

Diana and Rupert gazed at the tall, raven-haired girl who stood before them. Her mouth curled into a smile.

“How do you do? Who might you be?”

Diana stood in silence, Rupert nudged her arm, clearing his throat. “I am Rupert, one of a twin. This is Diana.”

“Oh he always tries to sound so grown up!” Diana rolled her eyes. “I am Diana.”

“Ah, you are a pretty little girl aren’t you? Just like your Mother. If you don’t mind me saying Ma’am.”

Diana’s eyes sparkled, Lucinda smiled a secret, soft smile.

“She must want her eyes testing.” Rupert muttered, Lucinda laughed, holding Edward’s hand in hers.

“Now, now children please be good. Miss Douglas, Rettie will take your bags and show you to your room. Once you both return, Lucinda and I will have to go. Rupert, Diana, please return to your bedroom.”

“Yes Daddy.”

“Thank you.” Miss Douglas smiled, glancing at a pale Lucinda who was adjusting her gloves and new sash.

“That is a very beautiful gown ma’am, is it new?”

“Yes! Edward surprised me today.”

“It suits your colouring well.”

“What a lovely compliment, thank you Miss Douglas.”

“Come along Miss Douglas.”

“Thank you Rettie.”

“Miss Douglas, if there any problems tonight, do not hesitate to ask Rettie.”

“Yes Sir.”

“The children’s room is directly above yours, any nonsense from them and I can assure you that you will hear them quite clearly.”

“Yes sir. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight Miss Douglas and thank you.”

**

“Rettie?”

“Yes Miss Douglas? Oh sorry Miss am I striding too far ahead?”

“No, it is not that. This house isn’t haunted is it?”

“Now what ever made you think of such a thing? I don’t think it is, or at least not that I am aware.”

“Ah.”

“You have an accent, where are you from?”

“The North East.”

“Ah, I thought so, although, your accent is more refined. Well, go and check on the children. Then, we are having some cups of tea in the servants quarters if you’d like to sit with us. Have you travelled far?”

“Yes quite far. I have to admit to being hungry.”

“Here, I will wait for you while you look in on the twins.”

Miss Douglas slowly climbed the stairs, glancing into the children’s room. Much to her relief, they were sleeping soundly. She gathered her skirts, rejoining  Rettie at the bottom of the stairs.

“They are both asleep.”

“Ah, you are lucky.”

“Oh, are they not normally at this time?”

“Sometimes, sometimes not, you can never really tell with the Ashdown twins. Here we all sit in here, but there is no-one about. It is only 10pm, how strange, normally we all sit down from 10-10.30pm when all our chores are done. Would you like tea?”

“Yes please, do you have sugar?”

“Sugar? Heavens no! It is only the family and their guests, it is very expensive, we would never expect sugar.”

“Oh, I shall have to do without.”

Rettie raised an eyebrow, continuing to pour the steaming tea into two hand-painted tea cups.

To be continued…

Pixies and Pickles- Part 17


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“Oh, Lucinda, this arrived for you in the post earlier. I shouldn’t have opened it, but as I found, it is actually for the both of us.”

“What is it?”

“Have a read my love.”

“Very well, I shall. It is an invitation to a dance, goodness it is from Annabella. Oh, I thought we were to dine with her and George my dear Edward? Still, we can hardly turn it down, it would be rude to do such a thing.”

“I’ll leave the decision in your hands Lucinda.”

“No, no you are the man of the house and I do not wish to make such a decision. Would you care to go?”

“Well, would it please you to know that this afternoon, I went to the liberty of… wait, one moment. Sit down in that chair, close your eyes and I shall bring it to you. This may help you to make your decision.”

“Oh goodness! Edward, you shouldn’t have!”

“You don’t know what it is yet and besides, I am allowed to buy you gifts aren’t I? You never ask for new things, I thought it was time.”

“Oh Edward!”

“Don’t open your eyes until I say.”

Lucinda sensed a packaged box of a good weight being placed into her outstretched arms.

“Open my love!”

“Oh my!”

“You haven’t seen it’s contents yet!”

“Oh Edward, I do not deserve such gifts.”

“Hush now, see it as an early anniversary present, how about that? You must open it properly.”

With great care, Lucinda removed the lid from the box to unveil masses of tissue paper.

“Oh my! Is it what I think it is?”

“Most probably!”

Lucinda peeled back the layers of tissue paper like a lotus flower, slipping the gown from it’s beautiful box. She held it against her, swaying gently from side to side so that the material swished.

“Oh it is so, so beautiful! Oh I do love it so, thank you Edward!”

“There now, you shall be the belle of the ball. Mind you, you could be dressed in rags and still be the finest woman there.”

“Oh Edward, hush! I am blushing. Oh we have to go tonight, I shall look forward to it, very much so in fact. What a splendid gift! Oh but Edward, who shall look after our little ones?”

“Aha, I thought you would ask, that is where Miss Douglas the new Governess comes in!”

Lucinda’s face fell. “Oh.”

“Do not be so alarmed. See it as a trial, I had a letter sent to her yesterday and she has agreed to it. We can leave our children at home, knowing that they are in good hands. She can stay tonight in the spare room next to the children’s. How about that?”

“Edward, everything is happening so suddenly, I don’t know what to say any more.”

“Say yes.”

“Alright, just a trial, for this evening. I suppose she will only be looking after our children for four hours at the most. Until then, I shall have to hang this gown in my room. Oh Edward you have made your little wife exceptionally happy!”

**

“Edward, I shall say goodnight to the twins before Miss Douglas arrives.”

“Of course.”

Lucinda knocked, before entering their room.

“Ah Mummy!”

“Hello my dears.”

“Mummy, Daddy has told us, we are to have a Governess.”

“Yes, she is called Miss Douglas and 17 years of age, you are to treat her nicely and do as she says.”

“Yes Mummy.”

“Please promise that you will be good, we shall be back in a few hours.”

“We will try, wont we Rupert?”

“Yes Mother, but this is all very strange, we are not used to Governesses, we have never had one.”

“I know, but sometimes a bit of change is good I think. Ah, that is the door now, stay in your beds my dears and I shall go and greet her with your Father.”

“Yes Mummy. Oh Mummy, I want to hug you, but I am afraid that I might get your dress all dirty.”

“Ah Diana, you are all clean, come here my dear. Rupert, don’t shy away in the corner, God gave me two arms so that I might hug the both of you at the same time.

To be continued…

Pixies and Pickles- Part 16


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“Lucinda, I have something very important to tell you!” Edward, bent over Lucinda, stroking her shoulder, she rolled to face him, taking his hand in hers.

“Good heavens? What is the time, have I slept in terribly?”

“It is 9.30am!”

“Oh gosh! Still, it is not as late as I feared. What is it my dear, what’s your news? You sound rather excited, tell me all.”

“I have received a reply to my advertisement for a governess, there is already one potential applicant.”

“Oh heavens! Already?”

“Yes.”

“Well, do tell me more.”

“Her name is Bessie and she is ten and seven years of age. She is educated, so I do suppose that she is of a good class. Here read it for yourself.” Lucinda raised herself on one elbow as Edward passed the letter to her.

“Thank you. Only 17?”

“Yes.”

“Gosh, she is only 10 years older than the twins. Well, I’d rather have someone young teaching my children rather than a miserable old woman with old fashioned teaching methods, that they might resent. I hope she can handle them. Is she the only reciprocate?”

“For now. Shall I leave it for another few days until someone else replies?”

“No, I think she will be suitable. I will write to her myself, I would very much like to meet her, are there agencies for Governesses?”

“I don’t think so, only for nannies.”

“Oh I see. Pass her response to me please and I shall reply. Hmm, Dear Miss Douglas. Thank you for your response to our advertisement. We should very much like to meet you, as would our children Rupert and Diana. Yours sincerely, Mrs Ashdown. Will that do Edward?”

“Yes, I like it, it will be very suitable and I shall send it now.”

“Thank you Edward.”

“Then you never know, I might have to arrange a little holiday for us.”

“Oh I would like that, but first I will post this letter.”

“As you please, I shall come with you?”

“Alright my dear, come along then and then we will have to break the news to the twins, how do you suppose they will react?”

“I do not know, but I dare say that we will find out. It’s a fine day for a little walk don’t you think?”

“Absolutely. Having a Governess will also give us an excuse to have a dinner party or at least attend some.”

“I suppose so, but she isn’t responsible for child care is she?”

“Of course.”

“Oh what a silly thing for me to say! I was fully aware of that already! I am still worried that I will not be able to see the children very often.”

“We will make sure that you shall.”

“Thank you Edward.”

“We shall go now, come along my love and that way we can read her details properly.”

**

“Here my dear, have a seat and read this.”

“Can I read our original advertisement once more before I read the reply.”

“Of course, here is ours.”

“Wanted, a Governess, on Handsome Terms. Governess — a comfortable home and salary, is offered to any lady wishing for a situation as governess in a  family residing in the country, to instruct a boy and a girl in music, drawing, and English; a thorough knowledge of the French language is required. She is to live here?”

“Yes.”

“I’m not sure.”

“We have no choice, she is originally from the North East of England, but now lives in London.”

“Ah. Oh dear, I guess I have to say yes and that will be that.”

“Well no, but it just seems like an ideal opportunity. We wanted a Governess and now we almost have one, she is willing to start as soon as possible.”

“Are there no local Governesses?”

“No local ones replied.”

“Oh.”

“Give the girl a chance, you never know, this whole new experience may surprise you, you never know.”

“If it doesn’t…”

“We’ve already discussed this.”

“Very well, I shall agree to the trial, but that’s all I have to say for now!”

“This isn’t going to make you ill again is it?”

“No dear, I am quite over my illness, do not worry any more.”

To be continued….

Pixies and Pickles- Part 15


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“Yes, that is a good idea, that way we can continue to watch the twins, my how tall they have grown and they are fine-looking children aren’t they?”

“That they are. They are both very handsome indeed, but that is to be expected.”

“What do you mean Edward? You have that naughty glint in your eye!”

“Well, they have attractive parents.”

“Oh yes! You are a handsome man.”

“You are too modest Lucinda, you are a beautiful woman and with the right guidance, our children will grow up to be a credit to us both. Are you cold?”

“No, no.”

“I tell you that you are, you are shivering. Here take my jacket.”

“Edward you need it, if I take that then you will only have a shirt and waistcoat, it will not do. Here, I shall double my shawl, that way it will be warmer.”

“Shall I do it for you?”

“I did not like to ask.”

“Why? There you go, now it is twice it’s usual thickness.”

“Thank you.”

“Are you hungry?”

“A little, as it was only a small  picnic and I haven’t been eating as much.”

“Then, we shall dine together this evening?”

“Oh yes! I would love that.”

“Then it is settled. Come, let’s retire to the drawing room and I shall tell Rettie to tell cook that we would like to dine together. It is now 4.30pm, would 7pm suit?”

“Oh yes, most certainly.”

“Good. Children?”

“Yes Father?”

“We shall all go inside now, your Mother and I are dining together later and you are to have dinner in the nursery.”

“Yes Father.”

**

Lucinda and Edward were seated in the smallest out of the two dining rooms. Edward placed Lucinda’s chair underneath her with great attentativeness.

“I feel that I am ready for this.”

“Ah you have an appetite now?”

“Yes absolutely!”

“Wine sir?” Edward glanced at their butler.

“Please Johnson, Lucinda?”

“Oh, no thank you. I am fine with water.”

“Edward, I don’t think I could eat a great deal, even if I am hungry.”

“Never fear, all the courses will be light. I requested it.”

“Oh, thank you dearest. I suppose that it will be good training for me.”

“Training?”

“Yes. For our next dinner party with Annabella and George.”

“Ah, I see.”

“Here we have vegetable broth to begin ma’am.”

“Thank you Johnson. Well this is lovely, just the two of us. It has been such a splendid day.”

“I’m glad that you think so. So long as you are happy, then I can feel content.”

**

“Edward, thank you for the wonderful meal. I actually didn’t realise how hungry I was.”

“Neither did I.”

“Can we retire to the parlour together for just a little while.”

“Only if you are not too tired.”

“Not at all.”

“Well, come along then my dear.”

“Lovely, I feel the need for a little music, might we listen to the gramophone?”

“Of course! Here sit down. There, oh I love this piece of music.”

“Who is it by?”

“Tchaikovsky.”

“Oh gosh, I should have known that, I have heard it before. Why of course it is act 2 of Swan Lake, how I adore this, how could I forget?”

“I wouldn’t worry.”

“Ah, might I rest my head on your shoulder, no on second thoughts Edward, dance with me, please it has been so long. It would make me very happy, just slowly.”

Edward nodded. “A very slow dance.”

Lucinda rested her head against Edward’s shoulder while he placed his hand around her waist and placed her hand in his.

“This is wonderful.” She whispered, closing her eyes and losing herself in the beautiful music.

***

“Mummy and Daddy, I couldn’t sleep.” Lucinda jumped, letting go of Edwards hands.

“My goodness Diana, it is very late. Did you have a bad dream?”

“Yes. I dreamt that Rupert and I were captured by a wicked witch who took charge of our house and took you both as prisoners!”

“Oh my, you have a very vivid imagination. Edward I shall take her back to bed.”

“No, no my dear we will both go. Come on Diana, do not be afraid any longer.”

To be continued….

Pixies and Pickles- Part 14


gloves.jpg

“Edward, is that you? I can see your shadow.”

“Yes.”

“Come in please.”

“I fear that I have upset you quite enough for one evening.”

“Oh, now that’s not true.”

“It is.”

“Well, I feel that we both over-reacted. My nerves are a little fragile and you are exhausted. Perhaps you would benefit from having a lie down?”

“I would not.”

“Oh dear. Children, would you mind leaving your Father and I alone for a while. Thank you for the stories, I loved being in your company.”

“Your Mother is tired, go and play now.”

“Edward, do not turn a positive into such a negative, the three of us have been most content for the last half an hour.”

“Yes I can see that.”

“Ah.”

“What is it Lucinda?”

“Like Father, like Son. Well, I sense that you feel left out and Rupert felt the same.”

“Perhaps.”

“And that is why you look so melancholy. Join us and we shall have one last story.”

“Yes Daddy do!”

“Very well.”

**

“I would like some fresh air, I am so tired of sitting inside all day. I would love to go for a picnic, I feel much better now. We could sit in the grounds as a family.”

“I’m not sure Lucinda, it might be a foolish idea, you will catch your death!”

“Well, I’d much rather die that way, than be alone in my bedroom. Please agree to it Edward and make your silly wife happy. Just for an hour or two while the sun is out. I shall get dressed and then we shall all go. The twins would really enjoy it. I promise that I will wrap up warm and it will do me no harm at all.”

“Very well.”

“Splendid! I’ll be dressed in 15 minutes.”

**

“Lucinda, are you ready?”

“Yes, I was just pinning my hair. There.”

“Here is your bonnet and shawl.”

“It is rather a heavy one, still I do suppose that I did say that I would wrap up warm. I have my black leather gloves. Come along then.”

Edward laughed. “We were waiting for you!”

“Mother I want to hold your hand!”

“No I do!”

“Well I have two hands, one for Rupert and one for Diana. There, we are all set, shall we go?”

“Are you sure that you can walk.”

“Of course I can, it was a chest cold, not some horrific fever. Fear not Edward, I can manage.”

“Mummy and Daddy can we go on ahead? We’ll be careful.”

“Yes, you may but don’t go too far.”

“Yes Father! Come on Diana, let’s go and see if we can find any butterflies!”

“Edward, I really did over react about the Governess and now I feel that it is a good idea, perhaps we could turn part of the nursery into a little school room for them.”

“My! This is news! You are warming to the idea?”

“Yes.”

“Oh I am pleased, but only if you’re sure.”

“I am certain, you didn’t take down that advert did you?”

“I did not.”

“Excellent. Then, we must go in on Monday and see whether anyone has replied. I would much rather have my children educated within this house, than be sent away to some distant boarding school where I cannot see them. That way we can spend the evenings together as a family can’t we?”

“Absolutely. We?”

“Yes, I would like to go with you.”

“Very, well but only if you feel well enough.”

“I’m almost certain that I shall be.”

“Alright. Oh look, I think Rupert and Diana have found something, shall we go and see what it is?”

“Yes lets.”

They wandered hand in hand to their children.

“What have you found?”

“A toad.”

“Oh my! She is a beauty!”

Edward raised an eyebrow.

“Do you know how you can tell the difference between male and female toads children?”

“No Mummy.”

“Well, I shall tell you. This is a common toad, I think she is female because she is so stout, males are smaller. She is a little frightened, poor creature and is trying to get away. Put her back where you found her, she may have babies to look after. Go  and wash your hands in the little stream.”

“Lucinda, you really do surprise me sometimes.”

“Why is that?”

“Most women would have screamed had their children just placed a large toad in front of them.”

“Then, I guess I must be different.”

“And that’s why I love you. Let’s sit down on this little bench, I can tell that you are growing tired.”

To be continued…

Pixies and Pickles- Part 13


gloves.jpg

Edward uttered an exasperated cry.

“Where are you going Edward?! Please don’t leave me in such a terrible state!”

“I am going to check that the twins have been fed. We wouldn’t want them causing havoc in the kitchen again now, would we?”

Lucinda did not answer, but mopped her eyes with a small, lace-edged handkerchief.

“I will fetch Rupert and Diana once they have eaten. They might bring some comfort to you, how does that sound?”

“I would like that very much.” Lucinda sniffed, attempting to compose her fragile self.

Edward knocked on the nursery door. Rupert and Diana froze, pushing something behind their backs.

“Children?”

“Yes Father?”

“What have you got there my dears?”

“Nothing. Well, erm it’s a surprise for Mother.”

“Oh, I see. Can I have a look?”

“Not yet.”

“Very well, your Mother would like to see you both, come along. Have you eaten since breakfast?”

“We had luncheon Father.” Rupert stated as a matter of fact.

“Oh goody! We haven’t seen Mother in an age. I had almost forgotten what she looks like.”

“Forgotten your own Mother?”

Diana nodded. “Yes, I am little and often forget.”

**

“Lucinda, look who I have brought to see you.”

Lucinda’s eyes sparkled. “Oh my dears! How wonderful it is to see you both! Now tell me, have you been good for your Father?”

They glanced at Edward. “Oh yes, they have been very well behaved. I will leave the three of you in peace for now, while I have a cigar.”

“Very well.”

“Mummy, you look…..different.”

“Do I? Oh. Rupert, you have a speck of food upon your cheek, have a look in my mirror and see.” Rupert obeyed.

“You-Your hair looks nice. I have never seen it down before Mother.”

“Thank you Diana, what a lovely thing to say, even though I’m sure that it looks frightful, it hasn’t been brushed since this morning.”

“Can I Mummy? Shall I brush it for you? I will be very careful.”

“Alright dear, there is a brush upon my dressing table.”

Diana scrambled from the bed, grasping the hairbrush, proceeding to brush Lucinda’s long strands of wavy hair with great care.

“Mummy, you’re crying! Oh why Mummy, please don’t cry!” Diana wrapped her small arms around Lucinda’s neck and kissed her cheek.

“Did I pull your hair? I’m dreadfully sorry!”

“No darling, you’re doing a splendid job, I seem to be a little emotional of late, don’t you fret.”

“Shall I get Daddy?”

“No, no, leave him be for a while.”

“Then, I will keep brushing your hair. Rupert, why are you scowling at me you silly old coot?!”

“Diana!”

“Well Mummy, he is!”

“I was not. That’s a lie Diana, I want to sit by Mother too.”

“Ah, I see Rupert, well come and sit next to your sister then, there’s a good boy. But children, you must try not to name call, it isn’t very kind now is it?”

“No Mother.”

“Tell one of your stories, how they make me laugh! I would like to hear another one.”

“Yes Mother.” Rupert clears his throat,  “it is actually one that Rettie told me.”

“Ah, I see, go on.”

“Well, have you heard of screaming skulls?”

“Oh don’t Rupert! That’s so horrid, don’t tell Mother such tales. It scares Mother and I so! Oh do let me tell one.”

It’s true, the thought of screaming skulls upsets me a little. Diana, yes you tell us a story, but you must be sure that it is a happy one.”

“I shall read The Little Mermaid Mother.”

“Oh, but that’s a sad tale. Still, I have to admit that it is one of my favourites. I will close my eyes and listen.”

“Yes Mummy.”

“Thank you dear.”

“Far out in the ocean, where the water is as blue as the prettiest cornflower, and as clear as crystal, it is very, very deep…”

Edward stood unseen in the doorway, wiping the tears away from his dark eyes.

To be continued….