Gertrude eyed the approaching clouds with disdain. She could feel the preceding chill through the winter coat that crumpled her dress. “My brother will be cross with me if I let you get wet.” Gertrude spoke sharper than necessary.
“Oscar doesn’t get cross.” The younger woman laughed and continued through the rosebushes, small pebbles kicking up under her sprightly pace. “His garden in Oxford pales compared to this, I’ve never seen morning glories bloom at nightfall.”
“It is rather contradictory to their namesake.” Gertrude paused to consider one of the blooms, then withdrew at the sight of the overly plump and oozing leaves. The gardeners took great pains to keep the occupants of the grounds blooming throughout the seasons, it created bright colors and unnatural effects among the plants. “We should retire for the night, the chill’s set in.”
The wasp waisted woman ignored her, fingertips trailing through the wet soil that rooted sweet smelling lavender.
“Bode, you’ll ruin the dress Oscar gave you.”
“There are worse things than water and earth Gertrude.” Her voice was low and her eyes were closed. She brought dirt stained fingers up to her cheeks, leaving muddy trails against her olive skin.
Gertrude looked away to gaze longingly past the stone walls that sectioned off the gardens. Far of windows were nothing but yellow squares against the dark. Supper would be served soon. “Bode wipe that mess off. We can visit the gardens tomorrow if the storm keeps off.”
Bode turned, one foot pirouetting of the ground. “And if it comes in full assault?” She joined Gertrude in their slow trek towards the house, their way lit by the gray sky and the far off lamps affixed to the garden gates.. “Shall we cower within the walls, trembling at the water that falls from the heavens?”
Satisfied to be returning to the warmth and shelter of the manor house, Gertrude twined her hands with the icy fingers of her sister in-law. “Tremble? Of course not. I plan to nobly wait out a siege that threatens us from all sides, and rejoice when our hostage is returned.”
Dark plum lips quirked upwards in reply. “Hostage?”
“Our most missed lord, he brightens out hearts and warms our skins, like dutiful husbands should.” Gertrude smiled as the torches of the courtyard washed over her skin. Away from the wind she felt her heart steady as the fire turned her drab hair into russet curls.
Bode sighed, the sound barely noticeable under the clack of shoes on cobblestones. “I miss the sun as well.”
Gertrude’s mock gasp earned a look from the servant that waited at the side door. “The sun? You terrible harlot, I was speaking of my wonderful Nicholas. But perhaps I should inform Oscar of this personage you call ‘the sun’.”
“You are very strange sometimes.”
“Well I am not the one with dirt on my nose.” Gertrude led the way past the kitchens and the flurry of aromas that accompanied it. As they entered the dining hall the harsh sound of rain danced across the ceiling.