After Clare

After Clare by Marjorie Eccles Read Free Book Online

Book: After Clare by Marjorie Eccles Read Free Book Online
Authors: Marjorie Eccles
all have to learn, and I’m sure you’re a young woman with ideas,’ Emily said, thinking of the project she had in mind. ‘Come over, when all the dust has settled after the wedding – you mustn’t spoil your hands for that – and we’ll sort something out.’
    Rosie met the glance of her grandfather, following all this with amused interest, and realized she was not expected to refuse. Lady F was used to people obeying her. But Rosie liked her, she had nothing else to do, and it might be fun.
    Across the hothouse peaches Stella sipped her wine and toyed with a few grapes. Nervy, brittle as glass, thin as a stick in a midnight blue, bias-cut dress against which glowed a modern – and no doubt expensive – jewelled and enamelled dress clip in peacock colours. She had seemed somewhat subdued all evening, very pale, perhaps as exhausted by the wedding preparations as she claimed. Emily’s glance had rested from time to time on her and on Dirk, seated next to her and not wearing his glasses, and registered how carefully, excessively polite they were to each other, repeatedly meeting each other’s glances and then looking quickly away. So that’s the way of it. Another complication. An explanation, perhaps, of Dirk’s apparent reluctance to return to live at Leysmorton. Dangerous proximity?
    If she did decide to take up permanent residence at Leysmorton again – and Emily had begun to acknowledge that the idea had been getting under her skin ever since she entered its gates; she had found herself lovingly stroking certain pieces of furniture and assessing where refurbishment was needed, and eyeing parts of the garden with speculation –
if
she came back to live here she could see difficulties springing up before her like daisies in a lawn. Unthinkable to ask Dirk and his sister to leave, but it might turn out equally unthinkable to live with either.

Five
    â€˜Oh my dear, isn’t she simply too lovely for words?’
    â€˜One would expect nothing less of Diana – or indeed of Stella.’
    The great-aunts, Hugh’s sisters, nodded in agreement as the organ music swelled and Dee made the entrance she had planned, walking down the aisle on the arm of her father and receiving the gratifying response she had confidently assumed. A collective gasp of admiration spread through the assembled congregation and handkerchiefs went to eye corners at this vision of virginal loveliness – at the bridesmaids behind her, a shimmering column of gold, at the six-year-old flower girl looking so sweet, and the young page, very manly in his miniature Highland dress.
    â€˜
So
like dear Lavinia – such a pity she isn’t here to see.’
    â€˜Let us not get carried away, Jane, we all have to go sometime. Think of the fortune this Scotchman is heir to,’ stage-whispered Aunt Dorothy, Lady Dedington. ‘Whisky, of course, but one can’t be too particular nowadays—’
    â€˜A castle in Inverness! Such a romance!’ breathed Aunt Jane, who had once nearly kicked over the traces and married a curate.
    â€˜Shhhh!’
    The aunts subsided.
    The congregation, still war-weary, had embraced this non-austerity wedding with open arms and dressed to the nines. Stella, slender within the cleverly cut folds of heavy, Hindu brown slub silk, with a Reboux hat from Paris swathed in modish veiling, her long blonde summer fur dripping luxuriously over one shoulder, outshone them all. But who could also help noticing the black-haired girl with the Cleopatra fringe in that daring tangerine and black frock, accompanied by the stocky young man who looked as though he wished he wasn’t there? As for me, I’m in company with the dowagers now, thought Emily, in her dove grey silk. She could afford the irony: the outfit was, after all, Paquin, and her diamond earrings, though small, were of the first water.
    The bridal procession reached Hamish and

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