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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15. 15.

Hurrying, they panted down six flights of stairs, down corridor after corridor. Twice they passed harassed-looking maids, whom stopped and turned to stare at them as they passed. The butler, with whom they almost collided on the stairs, even dropped the bucket he'd been carrying on the floor and it resounded off the walls with a loud, echoing clang.

"I beg your pardon, sir!" called Eddie as he ran, after Beth, down the corridor.

The butler, Samuel Peft, brother of the Sergeant, mildly shook his head.

"Are you quite sure you know exactly what it is you are doing, Beth?" asked Eddie breathlessly, as they rounded the corner.

Beth skidded to a halt. "You were the one whom suggested coming to look for this place! And now you get cold feet?" she snapped.

Eddie sighed. "The fact - or possibly 'idea' - that I have cold feet never even slipped off my tongue. But how do you know that the tapestry is still down here? You know as well as I do that father said that it had been 'moved far away from prying eyes for good'"

"I know that." said Beth impatiently. "But here is a good place to begin the search. And, you never know, looking may be worth a try; the tapestry may be down here, after all. Are you coming or not."

"Of course I am." Eddie replied. Then he grinned. "What are you waiting for?" and they picked back up the pace.

 

However, when they reached the place they had been looking for, the place where Eddie had, supposedly, all those years ago, found the family tree, they found the spot to be empty; no table, no bell jar, in sight.

"Did I not say it had been moved?" Eddie smirked, turning on his heel to face Beth.

She scowled. "Well, even if you did, at first, you agreed to coming all the same." she said.

"Where else ought we look?" asked Eddie, but Beth shook her head, unsure what to say. But it need not have mattered, for a figure had come striding up the corridor to meet them. Eddie noticed this and gasped. Beth spun around, coming face to face with Mr Emmerson.

"I thought I would find you here." he said coolly.

 

Beth stared. So did Eddie.

"F-Father." he stammered, but Mr Emmerson said nothing. "W-what are you doing here?"

His father snorted. "More to the point, what are you two doing down here?"

Beth met his gaze. "Coming to look at the family tree." she said boldly. "We were not doing anything wrong."

"Really?" Mr Emmerson raised one eyebrow, managing to effectively conceal how taken aback he was. "I thought I had told you not to meddle." He thought about it for a moment. "No." he amended. "No, I did not ever say that... But I meant to."

Beth blinked. So did Eddie.

Mr Emmerson sighed and the frown lined disappeared. "Look, both of you. I perfectly comprehend that you are curious about this. However-" He stopped, waited and then sighed again. "Oh, alright. Fine. You may see the family tree. It is not, though, in this part of the building. Come along."

Bewildered, as a result of Mr Emmerson's strange behaviour, the siblings, Beth and Eddie, followed their father down the passage, back the way they came, towards the main part of the house. They passed corridor after corridor, door after door, so many of them, in fact, that Beth soon forgot where they were; indeed, they were now in some part of the house that Beth, even with all her experience of the place, had never been.

Finally, however, Mr Emmerson ceased walking and Eddie walked right into him.

"I beg your pardon." said Mr Emmerson politely. "This is the place."

Beth blinked, certain that her father had been rendered quite insensible; there was nothing there. The stretch of wall was quite blank, except for a pair of dusty, red curtains and a mirror.

"But, Papa..." she reasoned. "It is nothing but a mirror..." and she made to glance at her brother, in the possible hope that he might back her up. But Eddie had gone right up to the mirror and was carefully examining it.

Mr Emmerson made an approving gesture. "Indeed! Yes. Look, the boy, here, has it right. You see, Beth?"

Beth did not. She did, in fact, have no idea what her father was talking about.

Eddie, on the other hand, was pacing up and down the stretch of wall and running his hand interestedly along it. He seemed to be pondering something, but, yet, Beth did not know what that something was.

Mr Emmerson looked at her expectantly, but, when Beth made no reply, he exhaled and tapped his foot. "Come on, Beth. Think. It does not, surely, take a genius to work it out. The tapestry - where is it?"

Beth thought. She registered the mirror and the curtains that framed it; the thin crack which ran faintly around the edge of it, almost like...

"A door!" she cried suddenly. "The mirror is a door and the tapestry is behind it!"

Mr Emmerson beamed. "Very good! You see, it did not take a genius after all!"

"Can we see the tapestry," asked Eddie interestedly; he was still examining the secret doorway.

"Indeed, nodded Mr Emmerson and he stepped forwards and, with some difficulty, wrenched the doorway open. It creaked. "My! That was noisy! But then, no one has been here for quite some time."

He then let both Beth and Eddie inside.

It was a fairly small, dark room, stone-walled, and draped in the same sort of red velvet curtain they had seen next to the mirror. There was, however, a long dresser over by one wall, coated in at least one inch of dust, and, on top of that, there stood a bell jar encasing a finely-carved block of wood. But neither of these objects occupied the two young Emmersons for long; they were far too fascinated by the huge stretch of tapestry which hung above them. The fabric was worn and thick and, Beth noticed, just as Eddie had said, there were several ominous-looking holes somewhere near the bottom. The map of embroidered names and lines, however, glittered across its canvas like a gleaming, golden spider's web, each part precious and delicate. Beth peered closer and saw her own name, as well as Eddie's, etched neatly along the bottom, in a fresher, shinier thread to the names at the top of the tapestry, and, next to them, she saw the names of Rose, Kitty and James Fitzwield, as well as those of her other cousins, John, Isabella and Henry, whom were the children of her aunt, Georgia Graphling, and her husband, Robert. Further along, Beth also found Emma and Gordon Banks' names, but, for some strange, hardly-explicable reason, she failed to find the names of Kiera Faxton, and John and Elizabeth Natalie.

"Father?" she asked Mr Emmerson suddenly. "Why are Kiera Faxton and her family's names not on here? and where is Mr. Ramsal's?"

Mr Emmerson smiled grimly. "Ah." he said. "About that... Their names have been... Burned off."

Beth was instantly reminded of Eddie's previous description and, after a brief glance back at the holes confirmed her ideas, then she was set immediately in her resolve to know why.

"Because the arrangement I made with Mr. Banks about the tapestry also included the promise th eliminate the names of all those whom were in favour of Kiera Faxton's marriage to John Natalie. In short, the names of Kiera's father, husband, daughter, and Mr. Ramsal." replied Mr Emmerson.

Eddie came forwards. "But why Mr. Ramsal? And why not Kiera's mother?" he asked,

Beth nodded. She had been thinking the same thing.

Mr Emmerson turned back to the tapestry and ran his fingers gently over Isabella Nightingale's name. "I believe dear aunt Isabella was a great favourite of Mr. Banks'. She spoiled him greatly, I am inclined to believe. He could not bear to blame her for any of what it was that happened."

"And Mr. Ramsal?" prompted Eddie.

"He approved heartily of the marriage, remember? Mr. Banks, it seems, has never managed to truly forgive him for it."

Eddie shook his head and Beth knew it was because he hated to hear of a dispute.

"Did Mr. Ramsal know of Mr. Banks' deep passion for Kiera?" Eddie then asked. "Because, if he did, then I shall not be too pleased with him for doing that spiteful thing of telling Miss Faxton to marry John Natalie. If it were all out of spite... That really would not have been a pleasant manner in which he could act."

"No." said Mr Emmerson heavily. "It would not. However, I do not know any more about it than you do, my dear boy, but, knowing Mr. Ramsal's character, it would do him justice to believe that he is entirely innocent."

Eddie's expression lightened a little upon hearing this but Beth, whom could not bear to think of her poor, dear Mr. Ramsal in such a way, said hotly "Well, even if Mr. Ramsal is guilty of doing such an awful thing as you describe, then I am sure that he had every right reason in the world for doing so!"

Mr Emmerson raised an eyebrow and Eddie, her brother, was suddenly struck by a rather enlightening thought: Was Mr. Ramsal the admirer of his sister?

But, true to his gallant nature, the young Mr. Emmerson said nothing and Beth was not let in on this new line of slightly alarming thought. And, in turn, Beth did not let on that the admirer had sent a poem, a love poem, and, when the second secret message arrived, later that week, she did not mention that either, the said message which was delivered, by post, on the morning of the Wednesday.

 

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