Author: Agnes Robinson PM
The day after Lavinia's funeral Sybil has tea with her Grandmother. Please review.Rated: Fiction K - English - Romance/Family - Sybil C. & Violet C. - Words: 1,983 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 2 - Published: 05-21-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8136703
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The morning after Lavinia's funeral the sky was grey with clouds and there was a faint drizzle of rain as Sybil set out to walk to the Grantham Arms to see Tom. She cast her eyes to the dirt on the road as she walked along replaying the conversation she had with her Grandmother the previous evening. She had returned to the Abbey as the guests were just leaving when her Grandmother had taken her aside.
"Your father has told me he has given you and Branson his blessing," she said with a stern look.
"Yes Granny he has," Sybil replied. She could not keep the look of happiness from shining in her eyes and her face breaking into a wide smile.
Her Grandmother gazed deeply into her eyes and with a sigh said, "When will you be leaving for Ireland?"
"The day after tomorrow. We don't see any reason to delay further and I just have a bit of packing left to do."
"Well then you shall have to come to tea at the Dower house tomorrow." Her Grandmother had a way of making even a simple invitation into a command. "And mind that you don't forget."
"Yes Granny, I am happy to accept your invitation."
With that her Grandmother turned with her jet rattling about her and stepped out the door to the waiting limousine.
When Sybil entered the inn she was pleased to see Tom sitting in the dinning room finishing his tea and reading a periodical. The frown quickly left her face when she spotted him and made her way over. He stood when he saw her approach and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before she took the seat opposite him.
"I have some news," Sybil blurted out.
"You do?" Tom replied with a slight laugh. "Then you better be out with it."
Sybil gave a slight laugh and felt her self relax. After all they had been through with her family she knew Tom could withstand a gale force wind and still be by her side.
"Granny was at the Abbey yesterday when I returned. She asked me to come to tea with her for my last day here."
Tom's countenance quickly changed from one of teasing to once of stress. He groaned inwardly at the prospect of yet another onslaught of Sybil's family trying to change her mind.
"Perhaps things are looking up," he said in an attempt to reassure her.
"Perhaps. It was more like a summons than an invitation. Since father has given us his blessing, lets hope this is a positive sign."
"We can only hope," said Tom as he reached across the table to take Sybil's hand in a reassuring grip. He tone changed to a teasing one, "Maybe she wants to drug your tea, and thwart your escape." There was no mistaking the mischief behind the twinkle in his eyes.
Sybil began to laugh and playfully swatted his arm. Their talk turned to their trip plans. It was decided Tom would go to the booking agent in Ripon to make arrangements while Sybil spent the day completing her packing and going to tea with her grandmother. They would meet back where they were after the mysterious tea.
As they rose from the table and exited the inn, Tom gave her a quick kiss on the cheek as they parted. She could feel the eyes of curious passersby on her. She held her head high as she headed back towards the Abbey. The newness of being able to sit with Tom in the open in a dining room, or hold his hand in public was not lost on Sybil. She marveled at how secure she felt when she was with him. As though they were there own island protected from the storms of society and the clacking tongues of gossip. She knew people would gossip about them, especially in a small town like Downton. Let them. At least they were leaving someone else alone if they were talking about her.
Late that afternoon Sybil found herself at the door to the Dower house. You never knew quite where you stood with Granny. She had been the only one who had been willing to listen to Sybil and Tom when they had made their announcement in the drawing room. Then the next day she had been in firm opposition to their union. Perhaps Tom was right and this was a positive sign. The woman was always full of surprises.
Sybil was shown into the drawing room of the Dower House by the butler. Sybil thought that he looked even sourer than on her previous visits. She expected gossip was flying around the village and by now everyone had all the juicy details of everything that had happened at the Abbey last week and at the graveyard yesterday. The Dowager Countess was seated on a small chair by the fireplace looking every bit as regal and unbending as her position dictated.
"Oh Sybil, I'm glad you are here. Do be a dear and pour."
The Dowager Countess moved to the table, while Sybil took her seat and poured the tea. Once the tea was poured and the sandwiches were on their plates, the Dowager Countess was ready to get down to business.
"Now I know you have been asked before Sybil, but are you sure?" her Grandmother looked at her with a raised eyebrow.
"Yes Granny, very."
"How long has this really been going on? I know you said you had agreed to marry him just under two months ago, but really how long?"
"I beg your pardon."
"I've cared for him almost since I the first time I spoke to him, but it took me years to admit it. Even to myself."
"You did have a conundrum then. You didn't feel you could ask for advice?"
"No. I honestly tried not to have feelings, but I couldn't."
They sipped their tea for a few minutes. While Lady Violet thought over the information her granddaughter had divulged. Her long time suspicions had been confirmed. She had suspected for years that Sybil had a beau, but in all that time she would have never guessed it was the chauffeur who had caught Sybil's attention.
"It seems rather peculiar to me that a chauffer would suddenly become a journalist. How did that all come about?"
"Tom's been writing articles for papers and periodicals in his spare time for about four years now."
"Good gracious. You knew about this?"
"Some, but not to the extent he's actually published."
"All revolutionary nonsense I suppose."
"No, Granny, not at all. I've read them and while they are political there is nothing I would call revolutionary. You may have even read some of them and not realized it. He's even had some of his work republished in papers around the Empire."
"The man is a veritable Pandora's box. I just hope you don't turn the key and have something unfavorable come out."
"He's very talented, Granny, and very decent. I hope you can all see it one day."
"Hmm, yes, quite." Lady Violet was busy mulling over the information she had just received. Maybe there was something here to work with after all.
"Well we should get to the real reason I asked you to come here today." They had finished their tea and moved to the sitting area. Lady Violet rang for the butler. "Have my maid bring in the box from my dressing room," she instructed when he arrived. "Have you given any thought to what you will wear for a wedding dress?"
"No, not really. There hasn't been much time for that I'm afraid."
"I may have just the thing."
A large white box arrived in the drawing room accompanied by a smaller hard sided jewelry case.
"This was my mother's. It certainly wouldn't do for either of your sisters but I thought you might like it."
Sybil opened the box to reveal a Georgian period wedding gown adorned with layers and layers of hand made Irish lace. The lace had roses and vines of ivy worked throughout the pattern. While old fashioned the dress was of the finest quality and perfectly preserved.
"I had my ladies maid go over it, but it will still need fitting. This is the matching coronet," Lady Violet said as she opened the jewelry case. "Its not as large and heavy as the tiara I wore for my wedding but I think it would suite you better. In my day the tiaras were simply horrid. One thought their neck would break by the time you were through the ceremony."
Lady Violet brought out a piece of jewelry that was simple in its design with leaves and flowers running around it. Diamonds were embedded in the centers of the flowers and the stems of the leave. Although old it was still very beautiful and Sybil could not recollect having seen her mother or sisters wear it before.
"The coronet will be on loan as it belongs to the estate. It is such a lovely piece I couldn't stand the thought of the stones being salvaged for another piece. It was part of my dowry." Waving her hand at the two boxes, Lady Violet said, "These should fill the something old and something borrowed quite nicely.
"Granny I can't possibly were a coronet with diamonds to my wedding. It will be a small church wedding."
"Nonsense, you are the daughter of an Earl and my granddaughter regardless of who you are marrying."
Sybil gave her grandmother a quick kiss on the cheek.
"Thank you for this Granny, so very much."
"Now don't get carried away. You are still a Crawley for now," said Lady Violet while attempting to hide her pleasure at providing a gift that made Sybil happy. Lady Violet still had her doubts about this impending marriage but Sybil did deserve to be happy.
Late that evening Sybil tried on the wedding dress her Granny had given her. It was a beautiful dress with a high waist from a time when corsets were out of fashion. Tom had asked her how it had gone with her Grandmother when she had met him after tea. Sybil had simply said it was more grilling but her Granny seemed to be accepting the situation grudgingly. He had quirked an eyebrow at the box she was carrying but hadn't asked her about it. She had not told him about the dress, as she wanted it to be a surprise for their wedding day.
As Sybil looked at her self in the mirror she thought how appropriate the dress would be. Her Granny was correct, the latest fashion was not what she wanted for her special day. She had no idea who from her family would attend although she hoped against hope they all would. If they did not attend then she would have this symbol of where she had come from and the generations of women who had come before her.
As Sybil packed the dress and coronet into her suitcase and wrapped it layers of tissue for protection she was excited for the trip tomorrow and the new chapter in her life. She was going to live a different life without a title, but Granny was right. She was still a Crawley and she would take the experiences and training of this life with her. How it would fit into her marriage and what it would mean for her in the future were yet to be seen. As generations of women before her had done, she was stepping into the unknown of married life. Where it would take her and how her decisions of today would affect the following generations was the great mystery that could only be solved when she walked out the door and into a new day.