Posted on: 2013-05-24
I was the sister who always had the passion for flowers. A vase in every room full of fresh flowers, and every day a need to throw the dead-lines to the goats and start again. I always wanted to bring Nature to me, or myself to Nature, I'm never sure which, but as soon as the flowers passed over the threshold they wilted and whined. It's like a barrier.
It's Nature - and Nature shouldn't be contained.
The first time I spotted the continuous death in the flowers that I dragged home, compared to the Roses blossoming outside along the window sill, Father took me to one side and explained:
"Lizzie" He started, in that way of his which made me listen carefully. He took my small pearly hands in his creased fingers and told me the flowers were like Love.
Love doesn't survive being vased up. Love is free, and Love is a nature that weaves its way like a spider's web.
But I kept bringing in flowers, which I supposed he was trying to get me to stop.
They were pretty and I liked to look on them from my bed.
When I was younger we used to go to the fields and pick Daisies.
Oakham Mount sat near the house, and when we were at the top you could see five tiny pastel figures blowing in the breeze from the house. I sat next to Jane, I always sat next to Jane, and we gathered Daisies; picking them at the base to preserve the long stem. Mary would make huge Daisy chains as Lydia and Kitty huffed in indignation and threw their ruined chains at each other.
Mary made the chains because Mary had the pianist's fingers; lithe and willowy.
Jane was the best at picking the Daisies just right, and I didn't make the chains because my fingers are like tree trunks and aren't good for anything but writing. (Even then my script is little more than legible on the best of days).
When we returned to the house we could, if we handled the chain like a chit of relic of a blue bird's egg, lay it once around the whole house. We would then sit by the stone steps and wait until Caesar came along and ate a few Daisies. After that we would go inside and wait for the wind to carry the broken chain back to its founding.
The Rose has but a summer reign,
The Daisy never dies.
The Daisies blew a gentleman and his son to us once upon a time.
They came down the Mount on horseback, the gentleman led and the son followed - a Daisy chain caught around the leg of his stead; a mordent or trill to an otherwise solid Cantata.
Father greeted them at the door and invited them inside, the gentleman was explaining that their carriage lost a wheel and enquired politely where the nearest town was. Meryton is only a mile away from home, and we walk there three or four times a week now if we can. Father sent John into town by foot, as our horse was working in the field and the gentleman's horses were drinking with Caesar from a bucket next to the apples.
Jane was presented to the two strangers first when they entered our drawing room. She was seventeen, the son must have been two or three and twenty, and Mama wanted to sell her off to some rich stranger more than anything in the world. Jane's gentleness was enviable and my clumsy dip made my cheeks flush with something I had never known before. I felt mortified under the two men's eyes and as they smiled and settled I returned to my small stool by the window.
I thought I saw the son's eyes on me during the hour or so preceding. I tried to look at him without my Mama's coquettish nature but I don't know if I succeeded; perhaps I didn't.
Mama used to say that she could enchant a man from a mile away with one flutter of her eyelashes; but no scientific study was ever conducted. Father just looked down at his page each time and murmured that it was quite something again and again. The son wasn't looking at me, but at my flowers. My experiment that day was with Roses. I was trying desperately to make them survive through to the evening, but even in my home-made concoction of sugar water they were already dwindling in the afternoon sun.
I don't know how he connected the flowers to me, I didn't know at the time as I was still under the impression that my look had blinded him like my Mama's had blinded so many other men.
It wasn't until later that night - no carriage repairs could be done until morning and so we set them up with beds - that I found out. His dark eyes had me from the moment they found me. My heart had already been throbbing from my quiet crawl up the darkened stairs as, for once, I had no candle. We had none to spare and the ones we did have were used for the gentleman and his son.
The son had power.
He must have.
He came towards me with a quiet step and his eyes were empty of passiveness, but full of elegance. But past that, there was something thrumming behind the dark pupils. Behind the shadowed features I knew, even then, that there was an angler hook; one that could catch hold of me and keep me.
He touched my cheeks with the thumb of both of his hands and I quivered under his touch. I could hear his feet shuffle in front of me and I thought he was going to kiss me.
Maybe he never even thought of that?
Maybe that was me?
I'd never been kissed, never even known anyone to be kissed who wasn't married and over the age of thirty. He was a man, the first man to touch me, move me. He was the first man to make me want something.
I had wanted to be kissed, and perhaps now I'm just telling stories.
Maybe he didn't move me, perhaps he hadn't pressed my skin with the pads of his thumbs, and perhaps he wasn't even there.
He touched my cheeks with the thumb of both of his hands and I quivered under his touch.
Say his feet shuffled in front of me and Say I thought he was going to kiss me.
Say he didn't, but Say he handed me a Rose, and that Rose lived until morning.
Say he gave me a Rose when I dreamt of Daisies.
Say He and his Father rode off the next day when their carriage was fixed.
A Love by the Daisy forged,
is a Love that never dies.
I married the first man who ever gave me Daisies, and although it was quite by accident how I enquired them he still handed me a Daisy and a Daisy was all I wanted.
The gentleman and his son did ride off that next day when their carriage was fixed, there is no 'Say' about it. The next time I met the son he wasn't being carried by the Daisies but by a wave of something that none of us were prepared for.
He was detestable. He had given me a Rose and had he kissed me then I would have scratched the pads of his thumbs with thorns.
He was rude and conceited and calm. Invariably calm.
He would stand as a pillar when I wished him to raise a hand and pace so I could pace and raise a hand in return.
He wrote me a letter - a long letter, longer than I had wanted but shorter than I needed. It was at this volte that he handed me the Daisy. He had waited for me in the parkland where I was staying with Charlotte. My heart was bitten and dashed that morning but when I eventually stumbled across him, or he across me, I'm never sure which, he handed me a letter and with it a Daisy he had been inspecting.
The petals were a little mattered but the flower was open and it must have been the first one to have opened in the morning sunshine.
I guess that always meant something to me.
He's handsome, and he's still intolerably calm.
But that doesn't matter.
When he stands behind me, his broad chest to my back, he weaves Daisies into my hair.