Sighing, she continued on her way to Hearst House. She would have to hurry. Mrs. Atchison would skin her hide if she were late again. “Punctuality is a virtue, young lady.” Mrs. Atchison pronounced the last time she was late. Right before handing her a toothbrush, instructing her to clean the bathroom from top to bottom.
I will be out of this life soon, Beth thought. Cornelius promised it would be any day now.
Upon entering the side door, she heard Mrs. Atchison talking with someone. Recognizing Cornelius’s voice, she rushed forward. His next words stopped her in her tracks, however.
“The wedding will be on Saturday, June first. You are to send the invitations no later than next Monday. We want everything to be perfect. Alicia is finally home from London, ready to go ahead. I have assured her all is well. She is secure in my devotion,” he emphasized. “There will be no reason for her to postpone this time. No reasons! Do I make myself clear, Mrs. Atchison?”
“Yes, Sir, I understand perfectly.”
“Very good then, I leave it in your capable hands.”
Beth could not believe what she had just heard. Cornelius was getting married. To Alicia, no less. The woman he swore he wanted nothing more to do with. “You are the only one for me, Bethy, you know that. Alicia is in the past. She was too complicated, always wanting more. I need a girl like you, one who knows her worth without all the trappings,” he had told her on one of their early encounters.
Right before I tumbled on the bed with him, she groaned to herself.
“Oh, there you are,” Mrs. Atchison said, nearly running into Beth when she rounded the corner.
“You need to return home to pack,” she said, looking away uncomfortably.
“Pack? Why do I need to pack?”
“You are going to Cromwell House in Wales.”
“But why? Why am I being sent away? I do not understand,” Beth implored.
Shaking her head sadly, Mrs. Atchison replied, “I know, child, I know.”
I guess he kept his promise, Beth thought, watching Hearst House slowly recede as the carriage carried her to her new destination.