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.



8. 8.

For a long while after her father's departure, Miss Emmerson sat and dwelled, in a state of great agitation, upon what had passed. She was angry, mostly, at Eddie, for, if he had not taken it upon himself to blab, then none of this should ever have happened. Surely, now, her father would bee keeping a close eye on her - alongside, most likely, her mother, for Mr Emmerson had probably already told his wife what was going on. And then there were Mr Fitzwield and Janet to think of. Beth knew her father would never even stir without his brother-in-law and, for definite, he had gone to him for advice directly before coming to speak with her. As a result, she would have to watch her step from now on, otherwise Beth would probably find herself being resolutely pestered and babied. She would not be able to do anything without her parents, aunt and uncle running around, fussing about her non-existent pride, and it was all Eddie's fault! Beth cursed him under her breath, but then, almost immediately, felt she was being too cruel and guilt dawned upon her. However, neither this remorseful consolation of her own mind, nor any of her brother's apologies - all of which, came later - did anything at all to quench her anger and, over the next few weeks, she flatly ignored both Eddie and Rose, the latter whom she blamed acutely, also, for even her inconspicuous role in the matter.


Meanwhilst, as of their neighbours from Hardon: Mr. Miles, the two cousins and Emma, they continued their ignited acquaintance with those from Pickely - although, little did Beth know, of even begin to realise, that she was also beginning to appear as an object of admiration in the eyes of two gentleman. But Beth, however, was far too lost behind the flattering and mind-occupying attentions of George Ramsal, whom was one whom looked upon Beth with - perhaps - a little sort of respect.


"He does, in fact, seem to be the most gentlemanly of the party at Hardon." said Rose Fitzwield, of the aforementioned gentleman, to Beth and Kitty, one afternoon. It was a day of extremely fine weather, and it was also the very afternoon of the day beginning the Fitzwields' last week at Pickely; they were to return to Inklefield the following Monday.

"Indeed." replied Beth. "I like him very much."

She did not, however, elaborate and mostly as of the fact that she was still a little set in her grudge against both Rose and Eddie.

Kitty leant lazily against a tree. "No, I think Mr. Miles is the best one of the three men. He does, after all, have more money than Mr. Ramsal and, although he does have less than that mightily odd, rich friend of his, he is by far more amiable."

"It is on that note, Kitty, that I must disagree with you." said Beth, sitting down on the grass beside her two cousins with her new creme dress fanned prettily around her like the petals of some dainty lace flower. "I do have to say, I am afraid, that I firmly agree with Rose. Mr. Ramsal is definitely my favorite."

Rose smirked triumphantly, for she had both won a victory over her sister and managed to get Beth back on her side - for the first time in weeks. However, the smile slowly faded as shouting, as well as mingled laughter, came from the large cluster of trees, which dominated Pickely's border.

"Goodness! Is that Eddie and James? Must they be so childish?" Rose asked crossly, glaring in the direction of the forest. The voices grew even louder and Beth peered about, trying, if that was whom was making the noise, to locate Eddie and James.

Kitty pointed. "Golly! - Look! It is Eddie and James!" she cried. "And with them are - Oh! That is childish! They have some ladies with them!"

And, indeed, it seemed Kitty was right, for riding on horseback around the perimeter of Pickely estate, were the distant forms of both Eddie and James and, riding prettily alongside them, were two young ladies, both whom seemed to be giggling themselves senseless.

"What on Earth are they doing?" wondered Kitty. "They cannot be hunting; they would not have the ladies with them, if they were."

Rose said nothing.

Beth, meanwhilst, rather thought she recognised one of the ladies and said, half-subconsciously "Daisy Ephram."

Rose and Kitty looked at her in bewilderment.

"I beg your pardon." said Rose delicately, and Beth, exasperated, rolled her eyes, pointing across the fields to where a smiling, pretty girl, with flowing brown hair and a yellow dress, rode side-saddle alongside Eddie, laughing at him over her shoulder.

"That. There. See? With Eddie. The one in the yellow dress." she said.

Beth's companions looked, saw and nodded.

"Who, do you know," Rose asked "is the other young lady?"

Kitty craned her neck in the direction of the forest. "I do not know. But I do like her sash." she said, nodding in the the direction of the unnamable young lady. Beth did not know either, although she, unlike Kitty, did make greater attempt to work it out. She stared at the girl, thinking deeply. The girl wore a pink dress and had dark hair - that much was certain. However, Beth could still not put a name to the second girl's face.

"Well, then, we shall just have to ask them." said Kitty Fitzwield determinedly, when Beth told her and Rose of her difficulties. And before either Rose or Beth could attempt any method of stopping her, Kitty had leapt up and run off across the lawn, calling out, in a voice that carried "Edward! James!"

Rose groaned, but then, glancing at Beth, she, along with her cousin, got up and, after they had brushed themselves down, raced off in pursuit of Kitty.


Upon hearing his sister's shout, James Fitzwield brought his horse to a halt and turned it, then, in the direction of his coming sisters and cousin. Eddie, therefore, along with both Miss Ephram and the other young lady, slowed also, dismounting as Kitty was thrown into view, closely followed by Beth and Rose.

"Sister! called out James, to Kitty, bringing his whole party over to meet her. "Rose! Cousin Elizabeth!"

"Do- not- be- such- an- idiot,- James!" snapped Rose, appearing behind Kitty, panting and clutching a stitch in her side. "It is 'Beth', not 'cousin Elizabeth', and you know it!"

"Ooh!" James mimicked his younger sister's bossy tone of voice. "It is 'Eddie', not 'Edward', and you know it!"

Rose looked in danger of exploding with indignation and Beth, wishing to avoid a fight, deliberately took up her arm.

"Where were you four off to?" she asked breezily, hoping to steer clear of any dangerous waters.

James dropped his smirk. "No particular place, cousin. "We - that is, Edward, here," he shot a taunting look at Rose "and I - were merely riding with the ladies."

"Showing off with the ladies, more like." Rose cuttingly muttered and Beth dug her fingers more firmly into her cousin's arm.

"Really? May you introduce us?"

James groaned and turned to Eddie. "You may do the honours." he said and his cousin was nudged slightly forwards.

Eddie cleared his throat.

"This is Miss Daisy Ephram." he began tentatively and Beth was pleased to be able to witness the faint tinge of colour that spread across her brother's cheeks. "I believe you know her, already, sister. And this is Miss Felicity Childers, whom, I believe, you have not yet had the pleasure of meeting."

Miss Childers beamed warmly, and so did Daisy Ephram.

Eddie turned to them. "Ladies, this is my younger sister, Miss Elizabeth Emmerson - otherwise known as 'Beth' - and these are my two cousins: Miss Rose Fitzwield and Miss Catherine. They are the younger sisters of our friend, here, Mr. Fitzwield."

Beth, Rose and Kitty curtsied graciously, the former pair with difficulty, for their arms were still firmly interlinked. Miss Ephram and Miss Childers dutifully copied their example and James, upon spying a nearby working stable boy, called out to him. "Hey! You, there! Take these horses, would you, and put them back in their stalls! We shall not be needing them, now."

The stableboy, a tall, lanky lad with flaming red hair and an abundance of freckles, nodded and came to take the four horses away.

"Of course, sir." he mumbled, bowing clumsily.

Beth vaguely recognised him as being called Bill. He left.

"We shall walk back up to the house together this way, shall we?" asked Eddie, slipping one arm through Beth's and offering the other to Miss Ephram.

They began the walk back in a temporary, pleasant silence.


As their large group walked, Beth Emmerson, whom rather suspected that she were to get Daisy Ephram for a sister-in-law one day, decided to address herself directly to her, in an attempt - more for Eddie's sake than her own - to discover more about the young lady's personality. This was brought on by the fact that Beht had only, in fact, actually interacted with Miss Ephram once, at a ball held last year at Pickely for Eddie's eighteenth birthday, and, even then, she had only seen enough of the girl to determine that she was not especially clever and disliked caviar. Therefore, Miss Emmerson struck up conversation with Miss Ephram like this, and let it flow from there.

"My dear Miss Ephram, I do believe that, despite the fact that I have, once before, been granted the honour of your company, we are, as two people, not nearly as acquainted as much as I feel we ought. Do you not agree?"

Daisy smiled. "Indeed, I quite agree with you. I may have seen much of your brother-" glancing warmly at Eddie "-but I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing so much of you. Oh, yes, Miss Emmerson. I do believe we ought know one another."

Beth nodded. "Well, then. I shall ask my father, next week, if he will send you one of  his cards. Then you may come round and perhaps spend a day or two with us. I am sure that all my family - both myself and my brother - should like that very much." she said.

Daisy smiled again and moved so that she was walking right next to Beth. "That should be a lovely scheme." she said, slipping one arm through Miss Emmerson's. And the matter between them was settled.

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