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.
“What have you got there my dears?”
“Nothing. Well, erm it’s a surprise for Mother.”
“Oh, I see. Can I have a look?”
“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.”
“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?!”
“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?”
“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.”
“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….