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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5. 5.

The day after the dance at Hardon brought much excited chatter as of Mr. Miles and his companions. In general, the former was, along with Mr. Ramsal, described as gentlemanly and amiable, whereas Mr. Banks could but be described as handsome. Emma Banks, at least , had the advantage of being 'exceptionally elegant' and 'amiable enough', although she was said, as was her brother, to be dauntingly proud and arrogant.

However, as a whole, the report of the new neighbours was good enough to entice a wish inside both the Emmersons and the Fitzwields (those at Pickely house) to see more of them and, as a result of this, an invitation was speedily sent out to Mr. Miles and company to invite the four of them to a day with the family on Friday. The said event, and all of the planning which came with it, was thus credited on Janet Fitzwield; she was the most level-headed out of everyone, both Mr and Mrs Emmerson being useless when it came to the art of organizing and Mr Fitzwield being, also, far too indecisive to ever take on such a challenge.

 

And so, on the next Friday, upon the visitors' prompt arrival, Beth Emmerson found herself, alongside her brother, three cousins, parents, aunt and uncle, out on the elegant driveway of Pickely house, trying her utmost to be as civil as possible towards their four visitors. It had been decided, earlier in the course of the day, that the guests were to be entertained by Rose, James, Beth and Eddie, alongside Kitty if she could retain the ability to behave herself. Beth thought she was well capable of finding the reasons as to why her father had suggested that they be the ones to provide entertainment: Firstly because he disliked the unfamiliar company; secondly because Mr Emmerson wished to displace the burden of visitors onto some person other than himself and, lastly, because he wanted to spend the day with his wife. Beth was rather in sympathy with her father and these sentiments - or, rather, she would have been, had she not been the one whom the burden was passes chiefly onto.

 

When those from Hardon then arrived, therefore, Mr and Mrs Fitzwield and Beth's parents quietly slipped away and, after Kitty had gone slyly away with them, Beth, James, Eddie and Rose were left duty bound to take Emma and Gordon Banks, Mr. Miles and Mr. Ramsal on a walk. This they did and Emma attached herself firmly to the arm of Beth, leaving her brother, Mr. Banks, to the care and small conversation of Eddie. Mr. Ramsal, much to Rose Fitzwield's delight, took up the said Rose's arm and Mr. Miles walked at the back of the group, with James. It was, therefore, in this way, for a fair amount of time, that the group thus progressed: Mr. and Miss Banks hardly speaking, leaving the others to do all the work. Beth tried hard to stick to a steady flow of chatter with her companion, the said companion whom was not at all helping, but only the following conversation passed between them. Said Beth first to Emma: "How do you much like Mr. Miles' new home? Is it every bit as pleasant as you may, perhaps, have hoped?"

Miss Banks looked up. "Yes." she said. "I suppose it is. However it cannot be said to be as grand as my home up in Yorkshire."

Beth raised one eyebrow. "Indeed? Now you have me curious. Pray - tell me more about it. What, for starters, is its name?"

"Nerthstone." replied Miss Banks curtly.

Miss Emmerson rather thought that this was an inadequately short response to her decently long question and she immediately resolved to drag out, from her companion, a longer sentence. "I am sorry to say that I have never had the pleasure of hearing that name before. Do you much like it there?"

Miss Banks glanced at Beth scornfully, with a look which suggested that she thought Miss Emmerson was quite delusional. "Why should I not like it there? It is my home and I should consider it to be one of the finest places in the country. By far, it is superior, even, to Derbyshire."

Beth was indignant. She had acquired precisely what she wanted: a long answer, but she could not be satisfied with the manner in which Emma had dismissed her county. If only her father should have heard it! Miss Emmerson smiled slightly - however, it was not in a way which should have expressed any humor - at the thought of how Mr Emmerson, or even Mrs Emmerson, should have reacted had they heard their home being frowned down upon. Beth said nothing, however, and the two young ladies walked, for a while, in silence.

 

Meanwhilst, at the back of the group, Mr. Miles had, at last, decided to drop his partner and had moved two places up the line to walk with Mr. Banks and Eddie. James, this meant, was left to the devices of his sister, Rose, and Mr. Ramsal, but this did not seem to perturb him. His sister, however, appeared rumpled and only grudgingly accepted his company. The new walking arrangement, though, suited Beth quite nicely, for she now had the advantage of overhearing precisely whatever passed between Mr. Miles and his friend, as a result of the fact that they were now walking directly behind her.

"How are you liking the house, Gordon?" was Mr. Miles' first question, as they passed a blooming rosemary bush. "Personally, I find Pickely a delightful place!"

"Really?" came Mr. Banks' cold response. "It is a tolerable house, I suppose. But I cannot possibly compliment it beyond that."

"Nay! Mr Banks, you are too severe! First you complain of the people and now you complain of your noble cousins' house? It will not do! What next are you to insult? The food?"

Out of the corner of her eye as she turned the corner, Beth saw Mr. Banks shrug his shoulders,

"Possibly." he said. "But it shall all depend on whether I may acutely find a fault in it; I am not the easiest of men to please."

"Indeed you are not! You criticize and stand there and never open your mouth unless it is to dictate an order or cruelly point out a mistake! And when you are bored... My goodness! I have never known a more awful person for whining!"

To this, Mr. Banks said nothing and, although Beth could not see his face, she fancied he had taken the remark as the opposite of a compliment. Beside her, too, Emma Banks walked in complete silence, although whether or not she were listening to her brother's conversation with Mr. Miles, it were hard to determine.

Eddie Emmerson, meanwhilst, true to his nature, was attempting to stroll as though he were entirely oblivious to the two gentlemen and could not hear a word of their conversation, despite the fact that they were walking right next to him. Beth felt sure that Eddie must be listening, however; how could he help but do so, for Mr. Miles was, with no competition, speaking loudly enough as so he was sure to be heard by everyone. The walk continued, though, and so did Mr. Miles. "The Peak District makes a fine change from Yorkshire, does it not? One cannot get enough of the fine landscape."

"That may be true, for I never was much of a person to strongly suffer from homesickness - but then, nor am I a very restless sort of man; I do not feel the inclination to travel as you do. I find that I can always be perfectly happy staying put." said Mr. Banks quietly. His voice seemed to becoming quieter every line, as though he suspected people were listening and did not wish to be overheard. Beth, almost immediately after she had come to this conclusion, decided that, most likely, everyone was listening. After all, the others' conversations had paused. However, either the same thought never occurred in Mr. Miles' mind, or he decided, unlike his friend evidently did, that the fact was unimportant and worthy of being resolutely ignored, because he soon after said "I am sure everyone may be happy in one place if they choose to be. But I will say it for you that I am happiest with change. That is one of those prominent differences between us, I think. Whether or not there are others also, I shall leave it for you to determine."

"There are others also." agreed Mr. Banks, his voice now so quiet that Beth had to strain hard in order to hear it. "And it is true that you prefer to travel. You are, in general, a more exposed person, I believe."

His friend made a small noise of consent, then made to say more on the subject. Beth heard his mouth open and get round the first four syllables, but it was countered as Mr. Banks suddenly interjected. "Pray, let us talk no longer. It is a tedious business and I would much rather enjoy the scenery."

Mr. Miles compiled, but laughed at his friend's strange attitude and Beth was left at that.


 

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