[Sarah tied for 3rd]
By: Sarah D. Hoffer
She kneeled in her garden intent upon her lilies, her pale yellow dress dotted with dirt. A stray hair escaped from her bun and she wiped it away leaving a smudge. This was her greatest joy in the day, to spend time with her lilies, weeding and watering. There were many other flowers and plants in the garden, but she was devoted alone to the lilies. Her mother had planted them long ago and she had taken over their care after her mothers death, keeping her spirit alive.
She did many other things out in the garden when she wasnt tending to the lilies, such as oil painting or embroidery, everything a proper English woman should know. She didnt do it because it was her place, but because she enjoyed it. If she had enjoyed sword work she wouldve run off and been another Joan of Arc, but womans work satisfied her.
Her long auburn hair and pale features were pretty enough, though her hair coloring wasnt quite the rage of society, but she lived in the country where society wasnt as important. When she had her coming out in London, she had chosen no husband though she had been quite the success. The servants whispered that she was becoming a spinster, but she was happy as long as she had her garden.
The constant movements of the gardeners were sounds unnoticed, but someone tramping through the ivy behind caught a bit of her attention. She didnt raise her head, thinking it was only a servant coming to deliver household news. They always trampled through the ivy, driving the gardeners crazy.
Isnt that the gardeners job, Iraele?
Shock registered on her face as she turned around, rose to her feet and flung herself into her brothers outstretched arms. Did you just return?
Yes, and I came straight to find you, he said hugging her tightly.
That was smart of you, she said with a laugh, letting go and pushing him towards a swing to sit.
I can quite recall how mother was always getting after me for not coming directly to greet her. Why should you be any different? He responded, then grew serious. Youre looking more and more like her everyday.
Thank you, Edward.
He sat down in the swing only after she returned to her own seat on the ground. Edward pushed off from the ground as he had done when he was a child. The two siblings had often played in the garden when their mother pruned the lilies. Im sorry I wasnt here for the funeral. I didnt receive your message until weeks after. It is good to see that you are not wearing mourning garb still.
It has been eight months and mourning attire is only for four, she responded. I was sad to not have you here with me, but Garrick stood with me.
How is the old chap? He was ever a generous and good friend.
He is doing well. Business is prosperous and he seems happy living the bachelors life. Edward laughed. How was your excursion with Professor Russell?
Very good. Weve created something that Russell calls a robot. A very odd name, but it is rather interesting.
Very interesting for you, but confusing and a bit boring for me. You have such strange interests, almost like one of those radical Italians or French. Youre always forgetting your proper English attitude, as well as your position as a duke.
You even sound like mother. She never did approve of my behavior, just not stuffy enough for the title. Iraele, many Englishmen travel and such, he reassured. Perhaps we should find you a husband, so you will stop pestering me.
Iraele laughed. If I could not find a husband, what makes you think you can?
You have a sizable dowry, that often is enough for any man of the ton. I think you have received many proposals, but you have been too picky or waiting for my return.
Well, with mother sick and you not here, how could I pick a suitable one? She questioned.
Garrick did not help you?
Garrick would not help.
Why ever not?
Because he asked as well.
Of course. Why help the competition, he said. Did you feel he was unsuitable as well?
No, but how could I respond with no ones approval backing my judgment?
You are making excuses now, Iraele. You favor him, dont you? Edward asked, stopping his swinging. Because if you do favor him, I could arrange it. Would you like that?
I would, Iraele replied.
Good, though Im not sure if hes stuffy enough for you even with his title, he joked. When will you see him again?
Garrick is coming for dinner tonight, she said with a wink. It is good to have you home, Edward.
Of course it is. Especially when I can arrange a favorable marriage for you in our first conversation, Edward said and helped her to her feet. Iraele?
You manipulate as well as mother.
That is good. I wish to be like her, she responded.
You are, very much, he said, wiping the smudge from her cheek as he escorted her out of the garden.