I awoke early the next morning, and a maid helped me wash. I changed into one of my better dresses, and met my Uncle for breakfast. I realized I was very hungry, and I found the soft crumpets we were served irresistible. My uncle watched me, an amused smile upon his face as I crushed my appetite. We then departed the hotel, and we were back in the carriage. We were driven to the train station, and directed to a compartment to ourselves. I found that my excitement was building, and I watched the scenery slowly go from the city, to the rolling fields of the countryside. My uncle cleared his throat.
"Tell me, child, do you mss your mother and father much?"
"Not as much as I expected, uncle. They were never cruel, or violent towards Mary and I, but they always seemed so distant to us, as if they did not think that we were worthy of their attention, however much we longed for it. I fear that I may have deserted Mary in the same way, as I got older. We were never what I would call close, you see."
"Mary told me that you were studious, and enjoyed partaking in etiquette classes." He commented, and I laughed.
"Well, I suppose I did learn to tolerate such pursuits, but, in reality, I was just complying with our parent's wishes in some vain hope that it might bring me some ounce of recognition, some slight acknowledgement of my existence. Mary took a less subtle option than I did."
"Open rebellion of everything and anything that was requested of her. I can't blame her. It sort of worked, more than my attempt did anyway." I told him, a small smile on my face as I remembered watching Mary being brought before our mother after one tantrum, or another, and actually feeling jealous of her.
"Her life in India must have been very different to her life at Missethwaite then." He concluded.
"Has Mary been making a nuisance of herself?' I asked, half dreading the answer.
"No, quite the opposite, in fact. She's brought something that has been gone ever since your beloved aunt passed away back to Missethwaite. You shall understand when we arrive there."
"Tell me, Elizabeth, do you remember much of the manor. You were very young when I saw you last, and I wonder how much you remember."
"I remember my Aunt in Garden, and I remember that it was very large, with lots of corridors, and rooms, and I remember being frightened of getting lost. I remember you as well, uncle, with Auntie, standing with me, playing with me, and I remember feeling so, so loved, like I really belonged there." I said, caught up in the dim memories, so far back that I could barely remember. My uncle smiled, and I smiled back, a strange, but somehow familiar feeling beginning to trickle through my body. It took me a while, but I finally recognized it. It was that feeling of belonging, returning to me, like I was returning to Missethwaite manor.
SG SG SG SG SG
Darkness had fallen by the time we were crossing the deserted moor. I looked out of the carriage, filled with wonder at how dark the night was, even after the short time I had spent in London. Nighttime in the city had always seemed so bright. By the light given off by the lanterns that hung from the carriage, I could see the passing bushes and shrubs that seemed to go on for ever through the inky darkness. I looked over her shoulder at Lord Craven, who had fallen asleep. I had slept briefly on the train journey, and was far to excited by the idea of seeing Mary once again to even think about the possibility of going to sleep.
On the voyage over from India, I had, eventually, got used to the idea of the size of the world, and my insignificance in size compared to that of the world, but it surprised me that something could be so large, and yet so empty, especially in a country so small as England, considering I had grown up in the vast, over populated spaces, of India.
I shifted slightly as the carriage creaked, and I caught a slight glimpse of Missethwaite manor out of the carriage window, and my breath hitched. I looked at my Uncle, who was stirring in his sleep. I bit down on my lip, looking back out the window, watching as the manor very slowly grew in my visual field, seeming to tower over the entire moor, myself included. My uncle blinked as he woke up, and smiled warmly when he saw the manor looming over us.
"Ah, home" he said, obviously pleased to see the building. I smiled, but didn't trust myself to speak as we passed through a stone archway, and passed through an avenue of trees, which seemed to be darker that the moor itself, before the carriage stopped in front of the enormous, heavy oak doors of the house. One of the coach men came around and opened the carriage doors, and I let my uncle step out of the carriage first, before following him, my cloak wrapped around my shoulders. I watched as someone opened the door for us, and my uncle, gently taking my hand, led me into the enormous entrance hall. I looked around, my eyes filled with wonder, as I took in the portraits, and suits of armour, that lined the walls. I shook my head, making the hood of my cloak fall from my head, exposing my dark hair. I jumped a little as my uncle gently laid a hand on my shoulder, having removed his hat and coat.
"Come, you must be tired," he said, as a woman, who I recognized as the same woman who had come to fetch Mary, walked towards us, "this is Mrs. Medlock, the housekeeper" he introduced, and I bobbed a curtsey.
"It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mrs. Medlock" I said, and she curtseyed back at me.
"The pleasure is all mine, Miss Lennox. Come, I shall show you to your room" she said, gesturing towards the grand staircase with one hand. An excited shout, however, made me stop in my tracts.
"Elizabeth!" I heard a very familiar voice cry out, and I looked to the top of the steps, my heart pounding in my chest as I saw my little sister, my Mary, standing there, a wide smile upon her features. She ran down the stairs, as I hurried forwards, meeting halfway across the entrance hall. I embraced her, smiling, tears of joy rolling down my cheeks.
"Mary! I missed you so much," I sobbed, burying my face in her shoulder, having dropped to my knees.
"I missed you too, Elizabeth" Mary said, a peculiar catch in her voice. I was shocked. I hadn't heard, or seen, Mary cry since she was about two years old, not even when our parents died. I pulled out of the embrace, holding her at arms length, and surveying her face. I could see that it was fuller than it had ever been more, and her hair was shinier, and fuller, than it had been in India. Over all, she looked so much healthier. A stark contrast to what I knew I looked like after my time in London.
"You look very well," I commented, and Mary nodded.
"It's the moor air, and being outside." She said, smiling. I laughed.
"Yes, that I believe," I said to her, "have you been enjoying yourself?"
"Yes, the gardens are wonderful, especially the secret Garden. I spend all of my time out there with Colin and Dickon, playing, and gardening."
"That's good. Tomorrow, you can show me, if you want to"
"Yes, I should like to show you. Elizabeth, why didn't you write back?" she asked her voice quiet and serious. I paused, biting my lip.
"I wasn't allowed to, Mary. I'm sorry, Mary, I really wanted to, but I wasn't allowed to."
"Why?" she asked. Several responses came to mind, but only one was appropriate for a young lady to say.
"I don't know" I settled myself with saying, and it wasn't a lie. Mary was, however, satisfied. I got up, and she stood beside me. I realized with a pang that she'd had a growth spurt since I saw her last.
"Elizabeth, you look tired." Mary commented, and Mrs. Medlock stepped forward, a smile upon her face.
"Yes, she does, doesn't she Mary? Why don't you go back to your room and go to bed, and you and your sister can meet in the morning?"
"Yes" Mary agreed, smiling up at me, before hurrying back up the stairs. Mrs. Medlock led me up the stairs, and down many corridors, up some more stairs, until we reached another corridor. Mrs. Medlock led me about half way along it, before stopping at a door. She opened it, pushing it open, and stepping aside so I could enter it. It was quite a large room, well lit by candles, with a large four poster bed, and tapestries decorating the walls. A dressing table stood against one wall, and a full length mirror stood in another corner. A writing desk stood near the window. I let out a gasp.
"Oh, it's wonderful" I told Mrs. Medlock, who smiled warmly.
"Yes dear, now I shall leave you to your rest. Goodnight."
"Goodnight, Mrs. Medlock."
I waited until the door had closed, before breaking into girlish giggles. I hurried across the room to examine the tapestries. They depicted forests, mostly. I admired the quality of the stitching, before beginning to undress myself. My suitcase had been brought up, and I fetched my nightdress, putting it on. I sat at the dressing table, brushing my hair for a few minutes, before climbing into bed and blowing out the last of the candles.
SG SG SG SG SG
When I awoke in the morning, someone was sweeping the hearth quietly. I glanced over to the window, and could see light shining through beneath the curtains. I sat up, stretching. The girl who was cleaning the hearth stood up, and turned around, smiling when she saw I was awake.
"Ah. I see tha' thee is awake. My name is Martha." The girl said in a broad Yorkshire accent that I found herself liking.
"Hello Martha, My name is Elizabeth."
"Aye, I know. Your Mistress Mary's sister. She's told us all about you"
"Oh yes. She was always saying after Lord Craven came back tha' it would be nice if you were there too."
"Aye. Lord Craven was tha' worried in tha' end tha' he decided to come and get thee. I think he thought somthin' had happened to thee"
"You'd be surprised how right he was" I whispered under my breath. Matilda moved to the wardrobe and began pulling out dresses. I got up, and chose a green dress. I dressed myself, which supposed Martha a bit. It was obvious that she expected me to be as dependent as Mary was when she came to England. I smiled away her offers to help, and sat down to a breakfast of porridge, which was heavenly. After finishing my bowl, I checked my reflection in the mirror, not that I cared what I looked like. If I had my way, I'd be with Mary out in the gardens today. Martha, having finished her chores in my room, offered to take me to Mary's room.
"Oh, that would be lovely, thank you" I replied, following Martha out of my room and down the corridor. We went down a flight of stairs, and down a corridor, until Martha stopped, knocking on a door. I heard Mary reply, and Martha opened the door. Mary was in the middle of the room, dressed in a pale cream and brown dress, a wide smile upon her face. She walked up to me, hugging me.
"Do you want to go out to the gardens?" she asked, and I nodded. She took my hand, waving cheerfully at Martha, who bobbed a curtsey and hurried away, before leading me through the manor. We hurried, as Mary was eager to show me the gardens, especially her 'secret garden', and I was no less eager to see it. She took me out a side door, and we wee outside. We walked through the kitchen gardens, and the orchid, Mary leading the way, an I following eagerly. I knew Mary was taking me straight to the Secret Garden.
We were walking along a stone path, with a narrow garden one side, and an ivy coated wall on the other. Somehow, I just knew that on the other side of the wall was the Secret Garden. Suddenly Mary stopped.
"Close your eyes." She instructed her voice serious. I did as I was told, and heard the sound of a key grating in a lock, and a door creaking open. Mary took my hand, and pulled on in gently. I stepped forward, letting her lead me.
"Keep your eyes closed" she told me. In the background, I heard someone giggle, before stifling their laughter. I paused, before moving on once more. The ground was sloping gently beneath our feet, and I could hear the rustling of bushes.
"Okay, open your eyes" Mary told me. I opened my eyes, and my jaw dropped. It was more wonderful than I imagined, than I remembered. The large tree with the swing was the same, and the roses, and the Ivy coated walls.
"Oh, Mary, it's beautiful." I told her, and she hugged me.
"I'm so glad you got to see it, Elizabeth" she said, and I smiled. I heard a slight noise and turned around. Two boys stood their, looking awkward. One looked to be about 12 or 13, and the other looked about Mary's age.
"Elizabeth, this is Colin, our cousin, and Dickon, Martha's brother. They helped me fix the garden up. They're my friends," Mary introduced. The younger boy, Colin, stepped forward, and shook my hand.
"It's a pleasure to meet you at last, cousin" he told me. I let out a little laugh at his formal tone, and echoed it in my reply.
"The pleasure is all mine, dear cousin" I curtseyed. Dickon stepped forward shyly, mumbling his greetings. I smiled at him, hoping it would ease his nerves. Mary took my hand again, and we set off on a walk around the garden, with her showing me all the things she and the boys had done. I was so proud of her. Afterwards, we all sat under the tree, talking. Dickon showed me his animals, and let me sit with a newborn lamb in my lap. I rested my hand on its fleecy back, and stroked it as it made little bleating noises, and wagged its tail, which made us all laugh. After a while. Mary and I sat on the swing together, while Colin brought out a camera. While Colin took photos, Mary told me how she had been given photos of our mother and Colin's mother on the swing, and that there was even a photo that they had found with Our Aunt and I on the swing together.
It felt so good to be back with Mary, closer than we ever had been before, in a place where we both knew we belonged. Lord Craven takes great care with the both of us, as if we were his own daughters. For the first time in my life, I feel as though I actually belong to a family.
A.N. THE END. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Although this piece is finished, reviews are still greatly appreciated, as they will help me write better in other things I write.
Sorry about my poor attempt at a Yorkshire accent. It is surprisingly difficult to write those few lines of Martha's.
Hope you enjoyed it