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.



2. 2.

The Fitzwields arrived almost two hours later, at around midday, and, upon their arrival, much talk was to be had as to enquiring how everyone was and exchanging all the gossip. The part concerning how Hardon Hall had been bought gave all three of Mr and Mrs Fitzwield's children a strong bout of ecstasy, particularly Kitty, the youngest. She was a loud, outspoken girl, whom, most unfortunately, seemed to take after her unmarried aunt and namesake, Kitty Marton. Many a joke had previously been cracked, between the adults of the family, concerning how, had Miss Fitzwield not been named Kitty, she would have turned out better. Beth had, many a time, overheard her father conversing over it with Mr Fitzwield, jokily stating that perhaps the name Kitty was a bad omen. But these frequent wise-cracks were, more often than not, wasted on Rose, Kitty, James, Beth and Eddie, for many of them referenced past happenings, happenings which none of them had had any share in. Both Beth and her cousin, Rose Fitzwield, however, loved to quiz their parents about times such as these, thus bringing forwards many an entertaining story, with which they would amuse themselves.


Now, though, as their parents delightedly greeted one another, and Eddie and James entered intense conversation in one corner of the ornamental gardens, Kitty, Rose and Beth, the latter being the one that was quizzed, talked a little, and eagerly, of the coming Mr Miles and his friends.

Are they rich?" Kitty wanted to know.

"Are they handsome?" was the question of her sister.

Beth denied having any of the answers to these questions and, after a short, but thorough conversation over it, the subject was, for the time being, disclosed and the three young ladies, the youngest of the three of them being only fourteen, retired up to the house, where they sat down and took up some needlework.


Almost for days into the stay of the Fitzwields - the day was, in fact, Tuesday - the entire family received an intriguing note from one of their maids.


They were all enjoying breakfast when this very note arrived and the air was filled with lively chatter. The maid then set the note down at Mrs Emmerson's place, before retreating to the side of the dining room in case of a reply.

Carefully, Beth's mother unfolded the letter and the conversation in the room dropped to silence.

"Whatever does it say?" asked her nephew, James Fitzwield, setting down his knife and fork and eagerly leaning forwards. He was a loud, pompous young gentleman and one year older than Eddie, of whom he was the exact opposite. The two extremely different cousins can do, for Eddie's calm, easy-going temper at least did something to quench James' bossy, superior one.

"A ball." muttered Mrs Emmerson quietly, looking rather stunned. She placed the letter on the table and her sister, Janet Fitzwield, picked it back up and read some of it aloud:

"'We have just recently heard, upon our moving into the neighbourhood yesterday, that you have visitors - visitors with whom we would also not object to becoming acquainted with, along with some of our other neighbours and, of course, yourselves. On that note, I should like, furthermore, to add, that I shall be hosting a dance at Hardon in a mere three days time and I flatter myself in thinking that you should be interested in attending?... Blah de blah.... Blah de blah.... Also wish to become acquainted with your children, nieces and nephews as well as-'..... Well... Well, that sounds like a wonderful scheme, does it not?" She turned to her sister, whom was still staring into space "Lizzie?"

Beth's mother snapped herself back to the present. "I beg your pardon." she said, dazedly. "I had, merely, a flashback. Old times..."

Mr Fitzwield, sat beside Beth's father, down the opposite end of the table, smiled gently. "You were thinking of the time I moved to Inklefields, I know. And I held a ball myself."

Elizabeth said nothing.

Indeed you did." chimed in her husband. "And it was an event which, had it not happened, would have greatly had impact on the birth of our children."

Beth and Eddie stared at him.

"May we go to the ball, father?" asked Rose of Mr Fitzwield, after a slight pause. "The invitation did include us as well."

"If your aunt and uncle provide consent." he replied.

At this, James, Rose and Kitty looked pleadingly at their uncle.

"Do not stare at me so." he told them. "What say you, my dear Lizzie?"

Beth's mother, recovering herself, smiled kindly. "If it is, indeed, something you all wish to attend, then, of course, I may have no objection." she said.

"Yesss!" cried Kitty Fitzwield, leaping up from her chair and capering excitedly around the room.

Janeth Fitzwield at once told her daughter to stop, although she, too, was smiling.

Rose hugged Beth happily. "A ball!" she laughed.

James pretended to vomit into his plate of scrambled eggs. "Nooo! Dancing! It shall be achingly dull!"

"It certainly shall be if you will not hold your tongue!" retorted his father. "For I shall keep you back here instead! For heaven's' sake! Must you be so childish?"

Eddie snorted.

James Poked him in the ribs. "It is not funny!" he snapped.

Beth, meanwhilst, glanced at her father. One eyebrow was archly raised, a thing which his son and nephew both quickly noticed.

"Sorry, sir." they both mumbled.

"You should be." Mr Emmerson remarked, lightly tapping his boiled egg with the tip of his spoon. Breakfast resumed in silence.


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