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.



6. 6.

A surprise soon came after that. They were nearing the end of their walk and Emma Banks began to speak again, more easily, in fact, than Beth had, so far, ever heard her speak. The topic, which had arrived almost completely out of the blue, was wildlife and the said topic, as soon as it were mentioned, gave great life and animation to Emma's eyes. It was also, evidently, a topic in which Miss Banks was superior in knowledge, for she could name and accurately describe any plant or animal thrown at her, and in immensely fine detail, too. Beth, curious, even asked about a few to test her, a test which Emma passed with flying colours. Chaffinches, Lupins, Sycamores, dog foxes and even a monkshood plant were all described in an as detailed way as was humanly possible and on Emma endlessly gushed about all of them. Beth felt the regard for the girl move up a step as they talked and it seemed as though, despite the complicated knot of pride that Beth knew to be firmly lodged inside Miss Banks' body, Emma was now a vast deal more pleasant than ever before, in the entire short history of their acquaintance. Before, Miss Emmerson had found Emma amiable enough and perhaps only a little humble, but, now, the sixteen-year-old was nothing short of sweet, charming and delightfully knowledgeable.


At one point, George Ramsal, too, took it upon himself to join in the girls' conversation, deserting Miss Fitzwield in favour of teaching them all he knew about badgers. Eddie Emmerson then sidled shyly up to them and told Emma the story of last week's shooting session, vividly describing the rain, the birds that had been shot and how one particular pheasant has strutted right over his feet. He then returned to the company of James Fitzwield, with whom he then conversed about woodlice.

Mr. Miles, meanwhilst, although he said very little, listened, looked and marvelled with perfect attention and much nodding of the head.

Mr. Banks only looked and listened, although he did, at one point, slip his sister's arm into the crook of his own and walk, without saying so much as a word, alongside her and Beth for a while, before, equally as wordlessly, returning to Eddie, his original partner.


Their walk continued and Beth Emmerson interestedly contemplated over how pleasant it was now going. She was enjoying Miss Emma's company immensely, as of the fact that she, herself, was a great presser of flowers and had a very large collection of ones she had pressed and labeled back up at the house. As a result, Beth found the expert knowledge of Emma Banks largely valuable; to her, the girl seemed to have the radiency of a speck of gleaming gold amongst a handful of tarnished silver. It was then then, in fact, just as Beth's mind was dwelling upon this resolute hobby of hers, then she and the rest of the party passed under a long archway, filled with roses. The blooms were beautiful, full and multicoloured, and Beth, upon spotting a particularly lovely red one, plucked it, delighted, from its stem with the intention to press it later. She had needed to drop a little way behind the others to perform this action and so, as Beth twirled the rose's stem between her fingers, it came as a shock to her when she felt the rough, carefully-pressed fabric of some gentleman's jacket brush against her. She glanced up, surprised, but, upon perceiving it only to be Mr. Banks, imposing and rigid as he was, her shoulders relaxed and, in the hope of avoiding him, she quickened her pace and did not once look at him. However, despite all of Miss Emmerson's trying, Mr. Banks was not prevailed and sped up along with her, and Beth, as she rather despaired; she did not wish to walk even a little way with her so-called 'cousin', slid a little on the path, sending a small stone, rattling across the dusty walk, into Mr. Ramsal's leg. He looked behind, then, smiling rather gallantly at the sight of Beth, and came to walk on her other side, so that she was now walking, more slowly now, between the two gentlemen. Mr. Ramsal's presence, Beth supposed she could understand: he was the most amiable of the two and had been, entirely, of course, accidentally, alerted by the actions of herself, and herself alone. But Mr. Banks' coming she could not understand - unless he were better behaved than she thought and had come, all in good-will, to enquire how she was. But that seemed unlikely, for Mr. Banks had so far, aside from the fact that she was his cousin, shown next to no interest in her whatsoever. It was all inexplicable and Beth pushed it from her mind, focusing, instead, on Mr. Ramsal, whom had begun to speak.

"A very pretty thing, indeed." he told her pleasantly, gesturing to her flower. "A true beauty. You have fine taste, madame. 'Tis a rose which has clearly been selected with prodigious care and natural feminine delicacy."

Flattered, Beth smiled. "Thank you." she said. "It was a recent idea of mine to press a rose - I have never done one before - for they interest me exceedingly, what with their many layers; their beauty and their prickly thorns."

"Magnificent." said Mr. Ramsal gaily, sounding as though he truly meant it.

Beth was seduced slightly by his attentioned. They were more valuable than Mr. Banks' , anyway, for he were only glaring into space, without, it seemed, a care in the world for anyone. Miss Emmerson pointed this out to Mr. Ramsal and his smile flickered slightly as he took in the sight. He shook his head, however, put one finger to his lips, with a nervous glance in the direction of his cousin, and gave Beth a wink. She blushed and, smiling to herself, looked slightly away, away enough for her to miss the flash of anger that passed between Mr. Ramsal's eyes as he looked, for a second time, at Gordon Banks.

This time, the latter did notice, but he only glared furiously back, with equal heat, but not an equal level of desire to win. Mr. Ramsal slipped away and Beth, disappointed, rather, at his disappearance, watched him go. She had not noticed any of what had passed between the two cousins and nor did she even have any hope at all of even guessing that something was amiss; Mr. Banks still stared, with an evil eye, into space and, naturally, Miss Emmerson did not possess the ability to read his thoughts, thoughts which were, spitefully, directed towards Mr. Ramsal.

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