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.



9. 9.

Of course, before Beth could even think about inviting Daisy Ephram over, the Fitzwields had to have gone back to their home, and back to Inklefields they went, on the seconding Monday. Beth was sad to see her cousins go, more Rose than anything, for she had now entirely forgiven Rose for the matter concerning her pride and she had likewise forgiven Eddie, although perhaps there was still some resentment there with him. However, despite the fact that Beth had now lost one member from the small circle of her female acquaintance - and perhaps two, if you counted Kitty - Beth could not easily find herself without company. After all, there were still Emma Banks, Daphne Dorweight and, of course, Daisy Ephram to exchange information with, and Beth rather felt as though she, at least, could have less reason to be bored than her brother, Eddie, whom had only the gentlemen of the nearby Hardon Hall to speak to. It had seemed, ever since the Emmerson's first encounter with Mr. Miles, Mr. Banks and Mr. Ramsal, that only the latter could be considered as truly 'pleasing to be around ,' the former pair being only 'pleasant enough ' and perhaps, at best, 'exceedingly attractive.' Beth had not seen any one of the three gentlemen, nor even Emma, since the day they had visited Pickely, but it just so happened, in fact, that they did make their reappearance; on the very day Miss Ephram was designed to visit, as planned, both Beth and her brother.


The two aforementioned ladies - Beth and Miss Ephram - had been seated in the parlour when Mr. Miles, the two cousins and Emma made this reappearance, alongside Eddie and Mrs Emmerson. Mr Emmerson,  meanwhilst, had escaped stealthily to his study, soon after Miss Ephram's arrival, under the blurred excuse 'accounts,' and, although Beth's mother was present, she was sitting comfortably in her favourite armchair (the one by the piano forte) and fiddling distracted with the small table decoration she had previously been making. Beth and Eddie, this meant, were left talking to Miss Daisy Ephram, a responsibility, as well as a burden, which Beth did not much like; she found Miss Ephram irksome and extremely tiring. The young lady was pleasant enough, yes, but she had no mind of her own, simply agreed with whatever it was that was being said and had the silliest, most girlish giggle that Beth had ever heard - a giggle which was also uttered far more often than was actually necessary. However, Miss Emmerson was determined  to be patient - for Eddie's sake, at least - towards their guest whilst she was in their home, and so patient and amiable she was. Eddie, meanwhilst, delighted chatted away to Daisy, seeming utterly spellbound by every word she uttered, despite the crucial fact that she only have positive answers such as "Oh, indeed!" or " How delightful! " everything that was said. It came as an immense relief, therefore, to Beth, when Mr Emmerson came back downstairs, loudly complained that they were being too noisy and implied slyly that Eddie should get rid of Daisy or, to word it his way, "Take our delightful guest on a refreshingly long, scenic walk."

Mrs Emmerson, upon hearing this from her husband, have him one of her "Fitzwilliam!" looks and Beth saw her mother's foot twitch suspiciously in the direction of Mr Emmerson's shin as Miss Ephram was, by the means of Eddie's arm, escorted elegantly from the room.

"Thank God." muttered Mr Emmerson irritably as soon as his son and guest were out of the room. He kicked the door shut. "She was giving even me a headache!"

Mrs Emmerson have her her husband another glare, but it was fairly half-hearted, for she was smiling, just a little.

"Shh! Fitzwilliam!" she said. " you must not speak about our guest in such a manner! It is abominable rude, especially as Eddie clearly enjoys her company and admires her so! "

Beth let her sickly sweet smile slide off her face like syrup and it was replaced, just as swiftly, by half disgust at Miss Ephram's dainty missishness and half amusement at the behaviour of her parents.

"Someone ought, for definite, teach that boy-" gesturing through the window at Eddie "-to open his eyes. If I end converting her as a daughter-in-law..." grumbled Mr Emmerson darkly and Beth began to laugh. So did Mrs Emmerson, but more quietly than her daughter and with the sound stifled slightly behind the back of her silk-gloved hand.

"You should have heard her, father!" Laughed Beth breathlessly. She put in a high voice. " Oh, indeed? Flowers? I quite agree! Ah! Oh yes! Prostitutes? They are my dearest companions! " and Beth fell about, with evident mirth, at poor Miss Ephram's expense, all over again.

Her father smiled. "I did happen to hear her." he said. "And I quite agree that she is utterly brainless. But, still, you must not be quite so open about it, my dear child."

"Open? Ahem! " laughed his wife teasingly. "I beg your pardon! Perhaps I misheard you... But I am quite sure I just heard you telling us that our poor little guest is 'utterly brainless'!"

Mr Emmerson decisively examined his nails. "Yes, well..." he began, but was interrupted by a loud knock on the door.

Beth's first thought was "Oh no! Eddie has returned already!" but this was proven to be wrong when a maid opened the door.

" I beg your pardon... " She curtsied. But some disruptive addiction Hardon Hall. " and she let them in.


Mr. Miles came first, nodding graciously at Mr and Mrs Emmerson, then bowing when he laid eyes on Beth. Next came Gordon Banks, who looked just as forbidding as always, whom made only Beth's father any sign of greeting and whom was followed immediately into the room by Mr. Ramsal, his cousin. The said cousin was the light of them all, for he beamed and bowed to everyone, and Beth's spirits were delightfully raised at the sight of him. Emma Banks came a moment later, smiling pretty at Miss Emmerson, then interested enquiring as of the whereabouts of her brother, Eddie.

"At present, he is taking a certain young lady on a tour of the grounds." replied Beth civilly.

Mr. Miles interjected. "Is he really? Dear me! That is unfortunate! I should have liked to have seen the whole family."

from where he now stood, intimidatingly blocking the view of the  fireplace, Mr. Banks snorted. "It is of little consequence, William." he said shortly, addressing Mr. Miles. " you may see them all another time. "

Beth's mother, from her seat between the instrument and the fireplace,  Beth's mother inclined her head.

"Indeed, sir. I am sure my son should have no objection to seeing you on a different occasion." she said quietly . "If I were to make excuses for him, then I should say that he is, perhaps, rather happy in the company of the young lady and that that said attachment may grow into something more in the course."

Mr. Miles smiled knowingly. "Ah." he said. " Well, I really do wish Edward both luck in his choice and match as well as... Well, just luck really... "

"Tell me, pray-" interjected Mr. Ramsal interestedly. "Who is the aforementioned lady? Will I know of her, do you think?"

Elizabeth smiled. "Perhaps. Her name is Miss Daisy Ephram, sir. A her intimate companion of Eddie's."

Beth, unable to contain herself, smirked a little, then let her eyes wander in the direction of the heavenly George Ramsal.

"Daisy Ephram?" the said gentlemen repeated politely. "No. I am sorry to have to say that I know very little of her."

he then turned to his cousin and Beth's gaze transferred to Mr. Banks. "Do you know if her, Gordon?"

Mr. Banks hesitated, his face as unreadable as a block of chilly marble. "No." he said stiffly and at great length. "No, I cannot say that I have ever encountered the lady."

Beth watched him for a while, utterly transfixed by the strange intensity and coldness of his character and, after only a moment, his own eyes interlocked with hers and they did not budge from her face. His expression remained stubbornly closed, but Beth did see... Was it curiosity in those dark eyes?

"Anyway, I, personally, wish both Edward Emmerson and the little-known Miss Ephram every bit of happiness." came Emma Bank's voice through the dog which swirled around Miss Emmerson's mindmind, and suddenly Beth found herself no longer the object. Mr. Banks looked, with a rapidity that even the fastest of people would be proud to possess, instead at his sister and the strange, tantalising rope which had, for three brief minutes, ensnared both of their minds, went taunt and snapped, bringing Beth, perfectly easily, down to earth.

"I also had it that the five other guests from Pickely - your cousins, Miss Emmerson, the Fitzwields - left your company to return home, two days ago." Miss Banks was saying to Miss Emmerson, as well as the room at large. "I was sorry to hear that. I found the eldest Miss Fitzwield's company surprisingly tolerable."

Beth blinked. So did her mother. Here, it seemed, was Emma's conceited attitude back again! What an odd mixture of parts that girl was. But Beth, whom had seen Miss Banks' best side upon their last lengthy meeting, ignored the price and, instead, firmly agreed with her. "My cousins are pleasant, even though they are not from such a superior society as we."

Mr Emmerson, at this, raised one eyebrow and exchanged a worried glance with his wife. This gesture, however, Beth missed, as did she also miss the blank piece of notepaper being taken, by the means of a white-gloved hand, from the table, along with a pen and a bottle of ink. The pen and paper were then hastily used, examined, and replaced, all, miraculously, without being even the slightest bit missed. The conversation in the room continued and the sneaky letter was only discovered by Beth when at least two hours had passed since the guests from Hardon Hall's later departure.

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