“Edward, I really think that you need to take that bath.”
“And I am saying that I do not wish to.”
“Oh dear. Edw-”
“I remind you that you must remember your place. I will go to bed. I will be fine by morning.”
“Yes Edward, you know best I suppose. This awkwardness upsets me so! Oh must we argue?”
“Kindly leave me be.”
“Well, at least change out of your wet things dear. I’m only suggesting these things because I care.”
Lucinda turned on her heels, her eyes heavy with tears as she crept into the children’s nursery.
“Mummy! How splendid to see you!”
“And you my darlings! Tell me, are your lessons finished for today?”
“Yes Mummy, they are. Oh please, do stay with us for a while.”
“Yes Mother do!” Rupert echoed.
“I would like that very much. Shall I read one of your story books to you?”
“Very well. Hmm, which one shall we have?”
“Oh The Elves and The Shoemaker!”
“Good choice Di!”
“Rupert! That is the second time that you have called me by that name and I do not like it. You cannot say it again, unless….can I call you Ru?”
“Oh dear, I had hoped that you would say no.”
“Children, might I begin?”
“Mother, can I sit on your knee?”
“Oh of course Diana.”
“Mother, where is Father?”
“Your Father needed some time alone Rupert.”
“Yes dear. Sometimes adults need time to think. Now then, let’s read this story, are you both quite comfortable?”
There came a knock on the nursery door. Miss Douglas glared at Lucinda, folding her arms as she looked upon the happy trio who were taking in turn to read.
“My my dears! Your reading is coming along so well. What progress you have made in such a short space of time. Miss Douglas, is everything well?”
“Yes Ma’am. I was just wondering where Master Rupert and Miss Diana were, that is all.”
“Well, as their lessons are finished for today and Mr Ashdown is resting, I thought that I might take the liberty of helping them with their reading. It is always good to revise what you have already learned, don’t you think?”
“But Ma’am, this is my duty. That is what yourself and Mr Ashdown pay my wages for.”
“Well, this evening I would like to spend time with my children Miss Douglas.”
“But Ma’am, I have experience.”
“I remind you to remember your place Miss Douglas. You may go.”
Miss Douglas forced a curtsey. “As you wish. It is your word against mine.”
Lucinda narrowed her eyes as Miss Douglas turned her back and turned left into the corridor.
“I am very glad that you have decided to read to us. Diana and I have missed you.”
“And I you my darlings. I love you both very much.”
Edward peered into the nursery, wrapped in his long dressing gown. Lucinda closed the book abruptly, helping Rupert and Diana down from her lap.
“Edward, you look very pale indeed. Oh Lord! I knew that you would become ill, but I am relieved that you have changed. Rupert and Diana, please play quietly in the nursery.”
“Come along Edward.” Lucinda took his pale hand in hers, placing her arm around his waist.
“I am fine, I do not need assistance.”
“You are a horrid colour. You are going to have a bath now. I am afraid that I must insist upon it.”
“Another side of you I rarely see.” He muttered.
“I imagine that you already have the beginnings of a bad cold. A hot bath might prevent it from turning into something more serious. Here come into the bathroom please.”
“Thank you. Lucinda?”
“I am truly sorry and have finally come to my senses. Please forgive a brainless fool.” He embraced Lucinda, holding her to him.
“Ah, the agreeable Edward that I love has returned. I am glad.”
“What have you placed in the bathwater?”
“Mustard. It will help your chest.”
“Oh wont I smell delightful?”
“You are still frozen to the bone! Oh you are silly! I asked Rettie to place hot water bottles in your side of the bed.”
“Oh, when did you do that?”
“When I was getting the towels.”
“I’m such a fool, I should have listened to you earlier, but no matter. Please accept my apology.”
“Of course I do! You must accept mine. I felt isolated earlier, that’s all and I over reacted.”
“There now, we are friends again. I am very tired, I do not wish to stay in this bath for long, I might fall asleep.”
“Well, if you do, I will be here. You must remain under the water until I am certain that you are warm again.”
To be continued…