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.



4. 4.

And it was soon discovered that Beth was right about George Ramsal and Emma Banks - almost, but not quite - for, no sooner had Miss Emmerson escaped the presence of Mr. Miles and his surly friend, then she was thus accosted by a ver amiable-looking stranger and, accompanying him, was a young lady, a little younger than Beth, of around sixteen.

"I beg your pardon." said the stranger politely, and with a bow. "But you do not happen to have seen two gentlemen of the names Banks and Miles, do you? I seem to have stumbled upon the misfortune of losing them."

Beth replied that she had, and the stranger looked relieved, thanked her and enquired who she was.

"Beth Emmerson." Miss Emmerson told him, bobbing a slight curtsey.

The gentleman smiled and gallantly touched the place on his forehead where the rim of his hat would have been. "George Ramsal."

Beth laughed in surprise. "Oh!" she said. "Indeed? So you are the cousin of Mr. Banks? The other friend of Mr. Miles?"

"Yes." replied Mr. Ramsal, evidently pleased that she recognised him. "And this is Mr. Banks' sister, Miss Emma."

Beth turned to look at her and Emma curtsied gracefully. She was a very handsome girl, with elegant blonde hair, a finely carved nose and the clearest emerald eyes that Beth had ever seen. Her figure was well-formed and womanly and, although she were small and slight, she had the prominent air of one who thought herself much bigger. However she at least appeared amiable and she accepted Miss Emmerson's acquaintance with the utmost civility, Beth's name being, just as it was to her brother, delightfully familiar. "Emmerson? So you are some distant cousin of ours, are you not? Well, if that is the case, then I should be very glad to see more of you."

Beth smiled politely. "Thank you." she said. "Yes, that should be very pleasant indeed."

Mr. Ramsal likewise expressed similar joy. "There." he said to Miss Banks. "You see? Did I not say how I was sure you would find some nice, genteel young lady here? I rejoice in my triumph, for you have, despite all the claims of your brother, and I daresay you shall meet many more."

But Emma made a small snort of contempt, which confirmed Beth's original design of her: that she was proud, conceited and arrogantly selfish. "I think not, sir. None of the other young ladies I have so far met have been anything other than gaudy and vulgar. My brother was correct in his judgement about all of them - with the exception of dear Miss Emmerson, here, of course."

Beth was deeply offended. Not for herself, however, but for her friends; she was quite sure that no one in their neighbourhood could ever be considered even the slightest bit vulgar or gaudy and she therefore could not except Emma's intentioned compliment, given on her behalf.Most likely, Beth supposed, had she not been born into the rich background she had been born into, then she, too, would have been uncouthly dismissed. However, she bit her tongue, in a last effort to stop herself from retorting, and, instead, smiled graciously and nodded, thanking both Mr. Ramsal and Miss Banks, before hurrying away.

Mr. Ramsal, Beth later decides had, like Mr. Miles, been civil enough to be vaguely liked by her, but the Bankses were two people she had felt extremely disgusted with and she tried her upmost, once released from their meagre company, to steer well clear of them, spending the rest of the ball with her two female cousins and Daphne. They, it seemed, wished to avoid Mr. Miles and his companions, too, but for an entirely different reason: embarrassment. All three of them had, in some ungracious manner, disgraced themselves, most childishly and they were now all too ashamed of themselves to want any further contact with any of the new inhabitants of Hardon Hall. And so, Beth buried herself in their company and, thankfully, did not come any more into contact with any of the undesirable party.


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