Photo by Sue Vincent
“Mama, I’m going for a walk.”
“But, my Dear, Mr. Foster shall be calling on you at precisely three o’ clock.”
Anna stared at her mother. “Oh, I forgot that he was coming.”
“You would do well not to slight a man of Mr. Foster’s constitution. I’m sure you’re not impervious to his singular affection for you.”
“No, I cannot say that I am. I will admit that Mr. Foster is a very amiable man and I have enjoyed our conversations but I’m afraid that my affection for him is of a platonic nature.”
“My Dear, you would do well to remember that you have no beauty or fortune to recommend you to any man. And so far Mr. Foster is the only gentleman who has shown any solicitude toward you. Don’t let your fancy notions about love blind you to the fact that if you offend Mr. Foster in any way and he withdraws himself as your suitor, you will end up an old maid like your Aunt May.”
Anna took a deep breath. She didn’t want to lose her temper. “Mama, I’m going for a walk now,” she said. “I can do with some fresh air.”
Her mother looked rather put out and she sniffed indignantly, her expression one of censure as she gazed upon her rebellious daughter. It was Anna’s fault, really that there was a rift in their relationship. She had always been a rebellious and unconventional child. “If you want to go gallivanting about the place, by all means do so,” she said. “Just make sure that you are here when Mr. Foster calls. I will not have you embarrass your father and me.”
“I will be back before Mr. Foster comes, Mother.” And after giving her mother a perfunctory kiss on the cheek, she left the room.
What a relief it was to be out of the house. The temperature was mild–pleasant, though the sun wasn’t strangely absent. She headed straight to her favorite spot–the clearing in the wood and the rock with the crack. When she reached it, her face was flushed but she felt invigorated. She sat down on the rock and removed her bonnet. She smoothed her fingers over the golden wisps of her that brushed against her forehead. She could remain there all afternoon but she had to return to the house before Mr. Foster got there. Drat.
Why did Mr. Foster have to show such a marked preference for her company when he could easily have shown the same to other young ladies, like her cousin, Charlotte, for example. Charlotte seemed like a better suited companion for him than she was. And as her mother liked to remind her, Charlotte was very sweet girl with such an agreeable disposition.
“Why can’t you be more like your cousin?” was her mother’s constant query. As fond as she was of Charlotte, there were times when she found her wanting, not to mention boring. No, she would never be like dear sweet and irreproachable Charlotte and that suited her well.
After spending a long time there, enjoying the solitude and nature, she reluctantly quit the place and returned home. Slowly, she entered the foyer, removed her bonnet and made her way to the sitting-room where she would receive her visitor. Upon entering the room, she was surprised to see a strange gentleman standing there beside her mother who was sitting on the sofa. “Anna, my Dear, this is Mr. Abbotsford, Mr. Foster’s nephew.”
Mr. Abbotsford bowed and Anna curtsied. “Miss Fairley. I’m here on my uncle’s behalf. Regrettably, he has been called away on urgent business in London and has bestowed upon me the important task of conveying his deepest regret that he’s unable to keep his appointment with you. I asked me to offer you his profound apologies.”
Before Anna could reply, her mother spoke up. “Mr. Abbotsford, please inform your uncle that although his absence is of a considerable disappointment for my daughter, that she understands his predicament and that upon his return, she will be more than happy to receive him whenever he is able to facilitate another visit.”
Mr. Abbotsford bowed. “I shall inform my uncle of your disappointment, understanding and eagerness to see him.” His gaze shifted back to Anna.
Anna met his stare squarely. He wasn’t at all like his uncle. He was tall with very striking features. His black hair framed a very handsome and tanned face. It was slightly long and brushed against the crisp white collar of his shirt. He looked and had the manners of a gentleman. He looked to be six and twenty. She wondered what his occupation was and why Mr. Foster never spoke of him.
Mrs. Fairley cleared her throat. “Mr. Abbotsford, if you have no pressing business to take you away, perhaps you can stay for tea?”
“I would be delighted,” he replied.
“Very well. I shall ring for tea. Please be seated, Mr. Abbotsford. Sit there by the fireplace. Anna, come and sit beside me.”
Anna dutifully went and sat beside her mother. After arranging her dress and making herself comfortable, she looked over to where Mr. Abbotsford was. Again she wondered why Mr. Foster had never spoken of him nor introduced him. Perhaps, it had to do with the fact that he was young and very handsome. And perhaps, if Mr. Foster were privy to the thoughts that which occupied her mind as she studied his nephew, he would never have enlisted his help to bring her news of the urgent business which had spirited him away this afternoon, preventing him from being at her side now.
As she sipped her tea and listened attentively to the conversation between her mother and their visitor, she hoped that she would see him again. Surely, Mr. Foster won’t object to her family getting better acquainted with his nephew. Perhaps, she could persuade her mother to invite him for dinner. There was no telling how long Mr. Foster would be in London.
This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Rift at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.