Daniel and I are in London on our honeymoon! Thank goodness that dreadful trip across the sea is over. Daniel promised I’d get my sea legs, but by the time I did it was too late to use them. I’m just glad to be on solid ground now.
Bringing Daniel back to Hartigan House was a thrill. It had been twelve years since I left, just a teary face little girl, but surprisingly not much has changed except that Pippins lost his hair. But other than that, it’s like the house was caught in time.
When Pips opened the front door, I could barely hold in my joy. Besides Father and Daniel, my childhood butler was one of my favourite people. I’d already relayed countless stories to Daniel about Pips, and how we would sneak in games like eye spy, and Xs and Os, or bother cook for tea and biscuits for a tea party.
“Welcome home, Lady Gold,” Pippins said. I was taken aback by his salutation, having always been addressed by him as Miss Hartigan, or when we were alone, Little Miss.
I gave him a big American-sized hug then tugged on Daniel’s sleeve.
“Pippins, this is my husband,” —I still get happy shivers when I call him that—“Daniel, Lord Gold. Daniel, Mr. Pippins.”
I always thought Pippins was tall, but he’d shrunk somehow in the twelve intervening years. With warmth in his brown eyes and a sincere smile on his handsome face, Daniel towered over my butler. He shook Pippin’s hand with enthusiasm.
“Lady Gold speaks so highly of you, Mr. Pippins.”
Pippin’s cornflower blue eyes sparkled and his mouth pulled into a grin against his will. “You have a very fine bride, sir.”
“I do,” Daniel said. “Indeed!”
I gave my new husband a tour of the house, seeing it again as if for the first time. The freshly polished black and white marble floors of the vast entrance reflected the glimmering light of the grand chandelier hanging high above. A broad staircase curved upwards to the loft of the next floor. The drawing room was on one side of the house and the sitting room on the other, both with large French doors that opened to living areas heavily decorated in the current Edwardian fashions. I avoided the kitchen and areas behind the green baise door, no longer certain that I’d know or recognize any of the servants.
I pulled Daniel through the morning room which, on fine summer days as this one, opened onto a stone patio in the back garden which had neatly trimmed lawns and hedges and exploded with color from the flowers in bloom.
“Hartigan House is marvellous,” Daniel said with sincerity. “It’s grandeur makes Bray Manor seem even more wretched.”
“Oh, Daniel. Things must be better now that we’re married.” Now that Daniel had Hartigan money.
“Darling, of course. Things take time. You’ll see what I mean when we go there.”
I looked forward, with some trepidation, to visiting Bray Manor, along with Daniel’s sister and grandmother, both of whom, by the way Daniel had described them, sounded larger than life.
But first I wanted to see what was in the garage.
“Father said we could use his automobile,” I said. The doors had been propped open in anticipation of our arrival and soon the beautiful machine came into view. A deep shiny blue, the two door, flat-back and flat-roof carriage had tyres with yellow spokes. A look inside boasted a rich, brown leather interior.
Daniel whistled, “It’s a brand new Daimler!”
“Father hasn’t even driven it yet.”
“She’s a beaut.”
“We’ll have to take it for a drive,” I said, then corrected myself. “I want to drive it. You’ll have to teach me, Daniel.”
“Of course, my love.”
The tour of the house wouldn’t be complete until I took Daniel upstairs.
“Our bags should be in our room by now,” I said. When we reached the landing, only one bedroom had the door open, waiting—the same room I’d slept in as a child. I worried that I’d be spending my honeymoon in a chamber designed in pinks and whites with the lifeless eyes of my dolls looking on, but I was to be pleasantly surprised.
The room had been redecorated—at my father’s instruction, I assumed. I had so much to thank him for, I was feeling glad that he would be joining us in a week’s time.
“Daniel, isn’t it lovely?”
The fresh design of the room was mature, neither feminine or masculine, with gold and ivory furnishings and trim. A full-length ornately trimmed mirror stood in the corner near a matching dressing table. Two striped ivory and gold chairs sat in front of the long windows, and the bed featured prominently against one wall with an extravagantly carved wood head and footboard.
A gramophone stood in the far corner. Daniel approached it and looked through the records that had been provided.
“I made a special request of your father,” Daniel said. He removed the vinyl disk, placed it on the round table and set the needle in place. The warm scratching sound was followed magically by the notes of a band, and I recognized Frank Croxton singing Road to Mandalay.
Daniel reached out his hand. “May I have this dance, Lady Gold?”
I smiled and gladly accepted. “You may, Lord Gold.”
As we danced along the shiny wooden floor, I placed my head on Daniel chest. Listening to the beating of his heart, I was comforted by his place in my life, and dreamt of all the many songs to which we’d dance in the future.