The Handkerchief/Crossing #write photo

crossing

Photo by Sue Vincent

Two years had passed since her sister died here.  She found her in the river, among the rocks under the bridge, barely alive.  Her words still haunted her.  As she held her in her arms, Rosemary gasped, “Dangerous…he…pushed…me…”

“Who’s dangerous?  Who pushed you? Rosemary?  Rosemary?”  There was no answer.  Only silence.  Her beloved sister was dead.  A stranger passing by found them and went to summon the police.  She was questioned and then released.  She told them what her sister had told her and they assured her that they would investigate but so far they hadn’t turned up any leads.

As Agatha sat there in the grass, the breeze gently stirring the fiery red curls which framed her oval face, she wondered who could have murdered Rosemary.  She was such a sweet person with a very amiable disposition.  She had always been very kind and loving toward her even though there was a considerable age difference between them.

After their parents died, unmarried Rosemary, devoted all of her attention on raising her younger sister, making sure that she continued to enjoy the finer things in life.  When it was time for Agatha’s coming out, Rosemary took her dinner parties, charity events and balls which Agatha liked best because she got to wear beautiful gowns, dance and meet possible suitors.  It was at one of these balls where she met Franklin.

Franklin was tall, stately and very handsome, the sort of man, a girl could only dream of or read about in romance novels.  He was charming, engaging and very intelligent.  He captivated her heart the very first time they met.  She had eyes for no other man at the ball although Rosemary advised her not to slight the others who had asked her to dance.  To please her, Agatha danced with them but on their way home in the afterwards, she made it very clear to her sister that Franklin had won her affections.  Rosemary agreed to invite Franklin to tea and after that he became Agatha’s suitor.  Months later, he asked for permission to marry her and they became engaged.

It was last summer on her twentieth birthday that they got married.  After they returned from their honeymoon in Venice, Rosemary announced that she was going to move out.  Agatha protested but her sister was adamant.  “You have Franklin to take care of you now,” she said.  “I won’t be far away, my Darling,” she promised.  “You can come and visit me as often as you like.”

“Only if you promise me that you will visit me as often as you like.”

Rosemary smiled.  “I promise.”

She moved out a couple of weeks later and Agatha watched her carriage drive away.  The house was not going to be the same without her.  Behind her, Franklin entered the room.  She felt his arms encircle her waist and she leaned against him.  “You have me now,” she heard him say and she closed her eyes.  Yes, she had the man she loved who could help her to get over the sadness she felt at seeing her beloved sister go.

They saw each other as often as was possible.  And at first Rosemary seemed well but gradually, she noticed a change in her.  And one afternoon, when she went home, she learned from Prescott that her sister had called for her.  In her note she had asked her to meet her at the river where they used to go sometimes.  When she got there, she found her sister laying there, a crumpled heap.  Minutes later, she died in her arms.

Rosemary was gone forever and not even Franklin could ease the heartache she felt.  Tears rolled down her freckled cheeks and brushing them away, she vowed, Rosemary, I will find out who took you away from me and he shall pay dearly. She got up and hustled to the waiting carriage, her skirt with its bustle sweeping the overgrown grass.

“Are you all right, Missus?” Fritt asked as he opened the door.

“I’m quite all right, Fritt.  Please take me home,” she said without glancing at him and she raising her skirt, she climbed into the carriage.

Franklin was at home when she arrived.  “What’s the matter?” he asked, looking alarmed when he saw that she had been crying.  He put his arms around her and hugged her.

“I went to the river,” she told him when they drew apart.

“You shouldn’t go there, Darling,” he said.  “You know how much it upsets you.”

She nodded.  “I know but I had to go.  Oh, Franklin, I miss her terribly, terribly.  She wasn’t just my sister, she was my best friend.”  Fresh tears fell.

“I know.  It was a tragic loss for both of us.  Here, dry your tears.”  He handed her a handkerchief.

She took it and was about to dry her eyes when she noticed something at the bottom right corner.  It was a gold R.  This is Rosemary’s handkerchief.  What was he doing with it?

Before she could ask him, Prescott the butler came into the room to announce that Mr. Willoughby the solicitor was waiting for him in the study.  “Thank you, Prescott.  Tell him that I will be with him shortly.”

After Prescott left, Franklin turned to her.  “You look about ready to collapse. It must be the heat.  Come, rest for a while.”  Putting his arms around her shoulders, he led her over to the sofa and after making sure she was comfortable, he went over to the decanter and poured her a glass of Brandy, his back turned to her.  “Here, drink this,” he suggested.  “It will help you to feel better.  I wish I could stay but I have business to attend to.”  He reached down and kissed her on the forehead before leaving the room.

Alone, she stood there for a few minutes and then went over to the sofa.  She sat down, her mind muddled as she fingered the initial on the handkerchief.  Why did Franklin have it?  There had to be a perfectly good explanation.  As soon as he was done with Mr. Willoughby, she would ask him.  What business did he have with the solicitor?  She sipped the Brandy.  It tasted bitter as did everything she had been eating and drinking lately.

 

This was written in response to the Thursday Photo Prompt at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.  For more details click here.

Source:  Kate Tattersall;

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Mr. Thornber

“Mr. Thornber,” his name spilled involuntarily from her lips.

“What the blazes are you doing in here, Miss Roth?” demanded the gentleman.  “You should be outside taking  a turn in the garden.  It is a very pleasant afternoon.”  In a few strides he closed the distance between them.  He stopped abruptly beside her, facing the fire, removing his gloves and warming his enormous hands which seemed to fascinate her at the moment as she replied to his inquiry.

“I was out in the garden earlier , Sir.  And yes, it is a very pleasant afternoon.  I was rather reluctant to come back inside but my duties to my pupil demanded that I do so.”

He turned to look at her and she met his stare, wondering if he had any idea of how delighted she was to see him.  The days he had been away had dragged.  The house seemed so empty and boring without his presence.   She had no idea that he would return today.  She hadn’t heard a carriage arrive and perceived that he had probably come by way of his horse.  She had seen him once on the black steed and thought what a fine figure he made…

“What have you been up to while I was away?” his inquiry jolted her back to the present moment.  She could feel her face grow red and hoped that he would attribute it to the fire.  She moved away from the fireplace and went back to the chair she had vacated before he came in.  She sank thankfully down into the soft cushions.  She hoped he did not think her rude from walking away like that.  As he crossed the room to where she was, she saw nothing in his countenance to indicate that he did.

He promptly took a seat in the chair nearby, his arm resting casually on the book on the table beside him, his head turned slightly to the right so he could look at her.

With her hands clasped in her lap as she returned his gaze, she replied, “Nothing outside of the ordinary.  When I am not teaching, or outdoors, I spend most of my time here reading.”

“What sort of books do you like to read?”

“Fiction, mostly but I like History and Philosophy__”

“Philosophy?” He looked surprised.  “Why should you like Philosophy?”

“Sir, do you wonder that I should like Philosophy because of my gender?”

“My surprise in your choice of discipline has nothing to do with your gender, Miss Roth.  You just don’t seem like the philosophical type.”

“I beg to differ, Sir.  Philosophy is an activity that I like to engage in.  I like to question assumptions, beliefs and current presuppositions.”

He looked intrigued.  “I suppose you are familiar with Plato, then?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Tell me, Miss Roth, do you agree with his claim that ‘until philosophers are kings, or kings have the spirit of philosophy, cities will never have rest from their troubles’?

Before she could answer, he got up from his seat.  “I should be very interested in hearing your answer.  After you have had your dinner this evening, I should like for you to join me in here.”

Did she detect a tender expression on his face?  Before she could be certain, he was gone as quickly and suddenly as he had arrived.

Sighing, she reached for her book but didn’t open it for several minutes.  Her mind preoccupied with their conversation and his question about Plato.  She would have to think about it.  She looked at the clock.  Three hours before dinner.  She longed for the time to advance quickly so that she could enjoy his company once again.

 

Photo:  British (English) School; Portrait of a Gentleman; Royal Albert Memorial Museum; Sources:  Art UK ; CUNY Education; American Art