The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp...
Serialized by Patrick George Callaghan Part 9
By noon there had been two callers on the telephone. Esme had rushed from her room each time with raised expectancy; both disappointingly friends of her mother. Surely he would phone; he said he would. She knew there was little chance of speaking to him, but just to know he had done so would lift her spirit. She would soar among the pink and yellow clouds with their gentle embracing touch in a warm and purple-blue sky. She was bored with her room. Stretched on her bed. She had read bits of a boring so, so, romantic novel and lazily tossed it aside. At one o’clock Emily would bring her something on a tray that was for sure. She felt desultory; like some bird held captive prey. She knew this exile would not keep her from him. She knew too it was of her reckless way. At half past twelve the sound of a car handbrake brought her from an un-positive doze. A single red rose arrived held firmly in a silver, thin stemmed vessel and delivered by a man from a famous name in shops. Her mother must have fallen to an alcoholic sleep in the lounge; for it was carried by Emily with great secrecy to Esme’s room. It came with a small hand-written note and pretty words that delighted her. He would call at her home that afternoon, having first found time to call at a florist’s shop. His note was loving and intimate and held the promise of delight once more. She giggled with joy running her eyes across the uncommon script for a further time and blushed with pleasure in his detail. The note had been thoughtfully and with order – placed inside a rose-hue envelope decorated with golden delphiniums.
Now she was carelessly superior. She was his fancy and nothing would change that. She was lifted to the plateau of before, and was whole again. He would come to her side with strong support. He would back her frustration and make her mother see sense. His matter of fact would win the day! But would her mother see? Would he be received with any politeness? Her mother today – had Eau-De-Cologne in her veins! Esme thoughts ebbed and flowed in clashing torment. Would Emily be instructed to turn him from the door? She would run after him. Beg him to stay with her. It would serve her mother right!
Just after one o’clock there was a gentle knock on her bedroom door and Emily’s welcome face peeped in. ‘Your mother wants you to take lunch downstairs,’ she announced prettily, ‘Will you be coming down…it’s cook’s special,’ she looked with a begging air of concern.
Esme held her cool individuality. ‘Yes…I will come down tell her.’ She was purposeless in her tone. In the dinning room she would become the prey. Over the ingredient of life…she would become the victim again. Her accuser would point a crooked finger on her infidelity and spoil for satisfaction.
She entered the dinning room with the air of caused authority, composed in a structured web of fear and apprehension. Her mother sat alone, breaking crusted bread over a bowl of cold tomato soup.
‘Thank you for joining me.’ Her voice was silvery. It showed some pale reprieve. ‘I trust you have rested well?’
There was a tiny smile on Esme’s lips, borne from the flower of relief. She said nothing; her eyes raised in acceptance. She knew her mother was issued with hasty judgment that was sometimes regretted. But it never quenched the smoldering values of her Victorian childhood. Her face burned with its own discipline.