Star finished pushing the last of the soil around the roots of the plant and turned her back on the door to wash her hands in a basin of water. The flower shop was everything that she’d hoped it would be and she felt assured of its success.
The bell jangled as someone pushed through the door. She heard a sharp, distasteful intake of breath, “Well,” Said a woman in clipped, disapproving tones, “This is not quite as bad as I’d imagined.”
Star turned around, her mouth gaping in disbelief. There she stood, swathed in her black mourning gown, a wide black hat and veil perched on her piled and graying red hair: Lady Beatrice Allen was large, formidable and convinced of her own rightness. “M-Mother?” Star stammered.
“Oh, do close your mouth dear, you look like a fish. Thomas,” She said, turning to one of the two men in suits who flanked her, “please pack Ms. Macbain’s things.”
Star dried her hands on her skirt and hurried forward to grasp her mother’s outstretched hands, trying to recover form her shock, “Mother, how lovely…Jacob failed to mention that you were going to visit me.”
“Your brother does not know. He is in Paris with that simpering little wife of his.” She looked around her, “I’ve come to take you home. I’m sure he’ll be so glad to see you when he returns in a month.”
Star laughed, “I am not going to London, Mother. I’ve just opened the shop! Though if you wish to stay here I’ll gladly have a room arranged for you at the Bru…”
“Don’t be preposterous, Star. I am not inviting you to London, I’m telling you. Why your brother has been so lenient with you I will never understand, but really, this is the last straw. Flowers? What’s next? Selling posies at Victoria Station? Why didn’t you just become a prostitute and save us the agony of a slow fall into shame?”
Star found her mouth working without sound, “I..I…It’s a flower shop, mother! That’s perfectly respectable.”
“Ha!” Lady Beatrice called to the door that led into Star’s apartment, “Thomas, do try and find a suitable dress for Ms. Macbain to travel in.”
“Thomas! Stop packing my things immediately, I am not going to London!” Star exclaimed and turned to her mother, “Mother, I am NOT going to London! It is out of the question. How can you possibly…”
“Darling, it really isn’t a choice. Either you walk on your own two…oh, one foot, or I’ll have Edward here knock you over the head and carry you. Either way you’re coming to London. You are going to learn to be a respectable lady again, you are going to balls, you are going to meet with some gentleman friends of mine and when your brother returns you are going to confess to him in raptures how in love you are and seek his permission to marry. As is proper.”
“Mother! I am not remarrying!”
“Adorable how you still think I’m giving you a choice. You obviously are not suited to care for yourself, what you need is a good husband who can give you proper guidance.”
“I do not! I take perfectly good care of myself!”
“Yes, darling, your complete set of limbs and perfect vision is a testament to that. Now, go put on the dress Thomas has laid out for you, I don’t want to stay in this miserable little city a moment longer than I have to. And for goodness sake, wash your face! You look like a scullery maid.”
Star slunk off to her room with a resentful grumble. It was really impossible to win an argument with her mother.
((Typist is going to see a bit of the world again. Expect her back at the end of January.))