Beth

Beth Emmerson may be rich, but she doesn't have everything; her father thinks she's proud and her distant cousin, Gordon Banks, clearly hates her enough to appear cold and distant. But when a strange poem is presented, written by an apparent admirer, Beth's entire world is flung upside down and she must venture to find out more about her family than she has ever known before. To do this, however, Miss Emmerson must first hear the tragic story of two lovers; one player and one young lady, who is dead and has been for five years. As the past and present collide, the nasty intentions of the mysterious poet are revealed and Beth must, and will, make her decisions.

SEQUEL TO ELIZABETH MARTON

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10. 10.

It was late in the evening when this secretly-written letter was found, tucked neatly within the pages of Beth's flower-pressing book, which she had brought down to show Miss Ephram. Beth had later taken it back upstairs and was flicking through the pages when she reached the page, to which her rose was now stuck firmly with glue, and the letter fell out. It was a small piece of paper, neatly folded into quarters and with no envelope - just a large blob of dried... was it ink?... cleverly positioned to serve as a seal. It also had Beth's name written diagonally across the front, written hastily as though the author had had bare minimal time in thich to write it. Intrigued, Miss Emmerson unfolded the paper and saw immediately that it was a hand-written poem of three stanzas, written, as was the name on the front, in a slanting, spidery scrawl. Unable to resist the temptation of reading any longer, Beth, heart hammering, read the poem in full.

 

Thou art be a flower.

Seen as best; a rose.

Thou with thorns and petals

All down until thy toes.

 

I ought withdraw from thee,

Or shadow, flicker wane.

I, whom burns in darkness

Eternal scarlet flame.

 

So prettiest of petals,

Angriest of flame,

Cross thy paths together

And collide as one long lane.

 

Upon finishing reading, Miss Emmerson found herself to be completely and utterly floored. She was perplexed, most afully, by the anonymous poem, as of the fact that it was one of the strangest, most abstract, things she had ever read. There was no doubt, however, that it had been written for her, the name on the front had been enough to prove that, yet the tone of it was obscure, twisted and full of fiery passion. She knew not what to make of it and so she read it through again. Yes. Her observations were accurate. Part of the poem was light, pleasing and deeply flattering... But the rest! Goodness! It was almost sinister! Beth's eyes returned and examined the first part of the poem, the part where she had been compared handsomely to the prettiest of roses, and then moved on to the part expressing an angry, furious fire. The flowery part was easy enough to understand; it referred to the rose she had picked and pressed during her walk with the others a fair while ago and also, most likely, implied some sort of sentimental feeling. Beth blushed at the thought, then looked again at the poem. The fire part was by far the darkest, she thought. It spoke, also, of incredible passion, of a most ardent kind of love, but its connotations, Beth decided, whether intentioned by the reader or not to be so, were not in its favour. They were anger, danger and perhaps pain or burning, all of which were strange items to link to what was, undoubtedly, a love poem. Beth was not sure what to do about it, but nor did she wish to to show the poem to any member of her family or - and especially - Daisy Ephram, whom was staying the night and whom was not occupying the room nextdoor. Abandoning the poem carelessly on the bed, Beth got up, quickly crossed the bedroom and pressed her ear stealthily against the wall that split Miss Ephram's room from her own and listened. No sound came from within and Beth, suddenly overcome with exhaustion, went to bed, completely oblivious of the fact that both Miss Ephram and Eddie had, silently, left their rooms and were now roaming free in the cool, moonlit grounds.

 

The next morning brought the return of the poem to the mind of Beth and she privately showed it to her friend, Daphne Dorweight. Miss Ephram had now gone home and Eddie - it was noticed by everyone - was continuously moving about the house in such a state of ecstasy that it seemed impossible, almost to deteriorate his mood. Beth had been tempted to show him the poem, but had been decided against it when she saw his happiness. Eddie had other things to occupy him and so Beth was therefore left, perfectly comfortably, to the wise conversations and thoughtful opinions of Daphne. Beth's friend had many an idea to share on the subject of the poem and her main priority was finding out exactly whomever it was, whom had actually written it.

"Do you have any idea yourself who could have expressed such ideas, through poetry, towards you?" asked Miss Dorweight interestedly, once Beth had shown her the poem. "Do you know of anyone whom may have any romantic attachment?"

Beth had not yet thought about it, although a name did come to mind. She hesitated but then, upon deciding that, as Daphne was her close friend, she could almost certainly be trusted to keep a secret, said quietly "George Ramsal."

Daphne beamed and clapped her hands. "Oh, yes! He is a good choice!" she said. "Have you any reason to support this?"

Beth revealed to her friend how she had picked the rose and how Mr. Ramsal had dropped behind to walk with her and admire it, pointing out to Daphne how the rose had its significance in the poem. "It just cannot be a coincidence." Beth concluded firmly. "It is far beyond that. I know it is."

Daphne nodded, her brow creased in thought.

"Yes." she said, after a pause. "I quite agree with you. If what you say about you and the rose is true, then you have every right to believe your admirer to be George Ramsal. Indeed, until we have further evidence of its being otherwise, then I believe we shall assume that it is Mr. Ramsal. Tell me if you receive any more letters from him, Beth. I am greatly intrigued by this and I shall be the one to help you decipher it."

Beth thanked Daphne and agreed that she would show her should any more letters be found, but the conversation had then to be dropped, for Mrs Emmerson had entered the room.

"Good morning, ladies." she said pleasantly. She then gestured to the corridor behind her. "I have a pair of gentlemen here to see you, if you shall excuse my interruption."

Beth, at once, sat up straight and exchanged a look with Daphne, each of them thinking that perhaps it was Mr. Ramsal. Maybe he and Mr. Miles had come, leaving Mr. Banks at home with Emma to practice being intimidating in the mirror or do whatever else it was he did on dull mornings when he had no company. That arrangement, Beth thought, would suit her fine. But it turned out not to be the case, for Mr. Ramsal had not come. Instead, the two gentlemen were Mr. Miles and Mr. Banks and both Beth and Miss Dorweight were exceedingly disappointed, especially the former. The gentlemen came in, Mrs Emmerson left and noises of greeting were, in the case of Mr. Miles, politely and instantly made.

 
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