Beth

This is also a historical fiction.

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 is revealed and Beth must, and will, make her decisions.

SEQUEL TO ELIZABETH MARTON

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12. 12.

Both the strange, unfamiliar bell jar and family tree stayed in Beth's mind for the rest of the week, however she only decided to enquire after the objects on the afternoon of the Sunday, as her mother mended a hat.

"Mamma," she asked tentatively. "I met with Sergeant Peft almost a week ago."

Mrs Emmerson glanced up distractedly. "Mmm...?"

Beth swallowed, unsure whether or not it would be wise to continue. She did. "And...And he did happen to mention a- a table in the entrance hall... With a bell jar. And a family tree."

Her mother's reaction was immediate. Beth watched as her mother dropped the needle, looked utterly gobsmacked and coloured furiously. Her daughter, meanwhilst, waited with baited breath.

Mrs Emmerson struggled for a moment, in order to regain her regal countenance, and then said, in a voice of forced calm "Whatever do you mean by that, child? I know not of such items ever being at Pickely."

But Beth was determined to discover the truth and she put her chin in the air.

"That is what I thought, at first." she told Mrs Emmerson firmly. "But the sergeant seemed quite insistent that my dwellings were wrong. You know how wise he is, mother."

Mrs Emmerson bit her lip. "No." she whispered, her face deficient of all colour. "He is wrong. There never were any of those preposterous ornaments here. And I refuse, point-blank, to tell you any more."

Startled at her mother's strange behaviour, Beth took a step backwards. Her mother was by far out of sorts and she appeared almost jumpy; scared.

"I beg your pardon." Elizabeth heatedly added and she rose from her chair and made to leave.

"Wait!" cried Beth. "Mamma, please! I never meant to-"

But Mrs Emmerson had, without so much as a backwards glance, swept out of the room and Beth, disparing, sunk down into her mother's recently vaccated chair and rested her chin on her hands. Why on earth had her mother - her calm, placid, clever mother - reacted like that? And what was it about the bell jar and tapestry which had so greatly managed to upset her? Beth was stumped and downright confused. She also sat in this deadened manner for almost an entire half hour - that is, until a sudden commotion outside the door broke her dreamy stance.

 

When the first explosion of noise happened, coming from, it appeared, her father's mouth, it happened like this: There was a loud smash, like the sound of breaking china, and Beth heard Mr Emmerson yell "Where, in the name of the Lord, have you been?"

Startled, Beth glanced up and listened. Listened without difficulty, for what came next was both loud and truly shocking; what sounded like Beth's brother, Eddie, burst into tears. Beth blinked in astonishment upon hearing this and evidently, from out in the entrance hall, her father seemed to feel the same, for he exclaimed softly, however loud enough to be heard "Oh no. Oh dear."

The sobs grew louder and Miss Emmerson, in a rush of desperation to go and comfort her brother, got up and headed, still rather amazed, to the door. She then peered out into the hallway. As she had guessed, it was her father and Eddie making all the racket and there was also, on the staircase, what clearly used to be a member of the delicate, floral-patterned teacup set, but it was now just about as unusable as a clock face with no hands was when it came to telling the time.

 

Eddie, meanwhilst, stood in the middle of the floor and was openly sobbing, utterly uncontrollably, onto his father's shoulder.

Beth, for a moment, awkwardly wondered what to do, before she suddenly became aware of how very overwhelmed she was by the scene and decided to resolutely back away. However, before she could get very far, her father had noticed her out of the corner of his she and, careful not to disturb Eddie, beckoned his daughter forwards. Beth did so quietly, moving nervously as though walking on  rats' tails.

"What is it, papa?" she whispered , as soon as she were close enough.

Eddie, meanwhilst, whom was not so entirely oblivious to his surroundings as so not to notice the newly-created presence of his sister, glanced up. His face, Beth noticed, was rather linked than usual, as well as being very much shinier.

Mr Emmerson, too, turned to look at Beth, patting the damp patch on his right shoulder, in a very particular fashion, with the sleeve of his left hand. "That, Beth, is a question to which I do not yet have the answers. Eddie, my dear boy, would you kindly explain yourself?"

Eddie sniffed and get another year rolled down his cheek. He then looked, slightly uneasily , at his sister, Beth, whom, all of a sudden, felt very awkward and whom at once took the hint. She left, in order to give her brother some space and passed her mother standing discreetly in the shadow of the landing, looking uncertainty down on the scene below. Beth, accidentally-on -purpose, brushed against Elizabeth as she passed and had the satisfaction of seeing her flinch; Beth was still feeling a slight apprehension towards her mother as of the way she had been seen to earlier act.

Miss Emmerson then, almost without remorse, headed, as intended, to her room, although Mrs Emmerson remained on the landing.

 

"My lady?" whispered the voice of Elizabeth's maid, Madeline, as she came up behind her mistress. Mrs Emmerson jumped.

"I beg your pardon, Madam," added the maid apologetically  "but are you alright?"

Mrs Emmerson said nothing.

Maddy moved a little closer and tentatively touched her mistress' arm. A year fraudulently down Elizabeth's cheek and she slumped defeatedly against Maddy's shoulder.

"They grow up so fast." she murmured. " and soon they shall not even be here. "

Maddy patted her gently. "I know, Miss Elizabeth... I know..."

 
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