"Rosie!" I heard Amae's voice calling me. She had come for a visit to cheer herself up.
"Amae!"I said, running down the steps.
We embraced each other.
"It is so good to see you!" I exclaimed.
"I must say I thought I vas completely stuck with zat horrible man, but I found out zat ze marriage vas not valid for ve had no vitnesses other zan ze parson. So, I am free from his clutches forever!" she exclaimed joyfully.
"I am ever so pleased, Amae," I said, smiling at her.
Then, taking Amae's hand, I brought her to the garden where flowers were in full bloom.
"I shall have roses for my wedding--red ones," I said, pointing out the lovely blossoms.
"Roses... love everlasting..." Amae said softly.
"Amae! You are always going to be a dreamer, aren't you?" I teased.
"I dream because I have friends in England as vell as in France. I have crossed the barrier between zem, and I am almost ready to do it again."Amae paused and smiled. "I must return to my family in France. But I shall not go alone. Pierre will go with me. Do you know, he is always wanting to talk about a certain Maria, and I am almost tired of it! I hope that taking him with me to France will cure him of this nonsense."
I laughed "Oh Amae!"
"Rosie, it is true he never stops talking now. Oh, how I wish he was the solemn brother that you met in France!"
Peggy, my maid, came up from the house with a letter in her hand.
"It is from Mr. Kingsley," said Peggy, handing the note to me.
"Thank you, Peggy," I said to her.
I opened it and read its contents:
My Dearest Rose,
I request the presence of your parents and you, of course, at my mother's tea party this afternoon. Please bring your friend; Mother has decided that the more there are, the better.
My father is away on business as usual; he never seems to be able to leave it. But, you shall
enjoy yourself, for Lillian is to be married to Herbert, and I'm sure you and Lily will have much to talk about in the way of wedding arrangements.
"Amae, we are invited to a tea party at Lady Kingsley's!" I exclaimed, closing the letter.
"Let us change into something more formal, so that ve shall be dressed appropriately for a party. And ve should alert your parents as vell," said Amae.
My mama made a fuss, of course, while Papa laughed at her bobbing around trying to find Jenny to do her hair.
"Now dearest, calm yourself; Jenny isn't the only one in this house who can do your hair!" said Papa, his face cracking into a smile.
Amae and I slipped up the stairs and went into my room to pick out the dresses we would wear. I chose my green paisley with a white shawl, and Amae brought out a light pink dress.
"Rose! Miss De Johns! The carriage has arrived," called Mama.
Amae and I walked down the stairs, out into the garden and onto the terrace, where the carriage was waiting. Papa helped me and Amae into the carriage.
"You see, Amae, we shall be quite happy when Rose marries John, for he shall make her happy and he also has a large estate in Devonshire, but oh, we shall miss her dreadfully," said Mama mournfully, when we had finally set off.
"Of course, it will be a relief to see your daughter well situated in her own home," said Amae kindly.
"Yes it shall, but... It will be very lonely without Rose around... Well, we shall have to manage. Rose has been away from home for a long period of time many a year," said Mama sadly. Papa gently took her hand and smiled at me.
"John is a good fellow, and he will take Rose down to see us often, my dear," said Papa. Hardly anything could dampen his always-cheerful spirits. This made me very grateful.
By this time, we had arrived at the Kingsley's manor, to be greeted by John and Peter.
"Rose!" said John, helping me down from the carriage.
"Good afternoon, John," I said, a happy smile on my face.
He looked tired and a bit stressed.
"I must beg you to excuse her, sir," John said, looking to my father. "I have something urgent to tell her."
Father nodded, and John led me away from the cheerful party.
We stopped underneath an apple tree.
"You might have heard rumors about our business failing, Rose... Dearest Rose, I must tell you that these rumors are true." He looked greatly troubled, as if a large burden weighted him down. "I must go to the Indies and keep the business going. It is hard for me to ask you to rush our marriage on such short notice, but we must. I will be gone for two years, and I don't want you waiting that long to get married."
"I would not mind marrying earlier than planned," I said, smiling up into his eyes.
I held his hand, and it seemed as though time had stopped for us two. Taking my other hand in his, he leaned down and gently kissed me under the apple blossoms.