By Niamh McGee
The sun gleamed through the long – panelled windows, allowing the sunlight to delicately brush Florence’s hair. The light illuminated the drawing room in such splendour that the room’s beauty and elegance could not go unnoticed. In – front, stood a white silk couch, with a stunning phoenix sewn into its fabric. This was Florence’s favourite room to write in, with her mother sitting opposite her.
“Oh dear, this world is turning into too much of a radicalised place Florence”, her mother commented as she folded her large newspaper and placed it gracefully on the couch. Florence had no urge to respond as she knew discussing politics with her mother was becoming quite a dangerous habit.
“I for one do not believe it is such a bad thing.” Florence kept her eyes lowered to her paper, as she feared her mother’s outburst of debate.
“Oh, what is it with you young ladies now, demanding, how very unladylike”. Florence’s blood boiled.
“Perhaps that is the point mother, ladylike consists of being toured around Dublin and London, to flounce my finest wear like a peacock his feathers. To find some man, who holds not personality nor intellect but title and money. That is supposedly success, to have reached all glory as a woman. To give birth, without perhaps a desire to become a mother, and sit around all day in these big, polished houses. That is not living mother”.
Although Florence was ready to stand and leave, she was interrupted. A young maid whose house coat was almost hanging off her burst through the door. Her face was rosy.
“What in God’s name”, declared mother.
“Pardon me Lady, I am very sorry, but…”. She took some rapid breaths.
Mother stood, “well spit it out”. Florence glared.
“Sorry Miss, we have an accident it is urgent, your husband is calling for you outside.”
Mother turned quickly to glance at Florence with urgency in her eyes. They ran as fast as possible. Through the large gallery, the dining room and through the massive entry door.
Sir Richard stood under a high archway outside the main entry, dressed in his finest hunting attire, a green flat cap, a long tweed overcoat, brown slimming trousers covered by tall dark boots. A large array of men similarly dressed stood shadowing him.
“Darling, do not fear, but there has been a gruesome accident, we sent for a doctor, but it will take time. She is bleeding heavily, we must provide some aid.”
He did not look shocked. “Let me see her.”
Florence ran out under the archways. Her father stopped her firmly. “Dear, this is an injury with horrific wounds, I don’t think it is fit for a lady’s eyes.” Florence shook her head and pushed her father aside.
“It is Georgina who is injured, she seems to have been accidently shot, by the visiting hunt party.” Richard explained to his wife, both remained rather careless.
“Has nobody admitted to having shot her, how ignorant.”
Richard looked across to the gathering of men, “No, but we will find them, and exact justice. We must also find her husband, he was on the hunt ahead”. Richard stormed off with his array of men following like a group of petrified sheep.
Mother shook her head and peered over the wall to find Florence. She could not be found, mother returned to the house carelessly.
Florence followed a gentleman from the hunt, through the Walled Garden. A lady lay propped against a wall. She was dressed in a hunting gown and blazer.
“She is still breathing Miss, but the blood is flowing heavily,” the young man explained.
“Yes, leave me to this, travel with my father,” Florence ordered boldly.
“Erm, are you sure Miss, are you able to…” he murmured.
“Yes I bloody well am, go.” Florence shouted as she ripped her coat off placing it over the ladies gushing wound. Her neck had been wounded severely with dark streams of blood cascading over her body. Florence pushed heavily on the wound and the blood flow ceased.
“Can you hear me Miss”. No response. Florence rocked uneasily as she tried to comprehend the severity of the situation. “The doctor will be here soon”, she repeated to the unresponsive body.
Florence tried to remove the lady’s overcoat to further prop her up. In doing so she caught a thread in the lady’s necklace. It was a delicate chain, with a dainty crescent moon dangling at the end. Florence was instantly taken aback as she recognised this necklace.
She used to wear this piece. It was given to her by Henry, her former partner, who she was due to marry, but due to her family disapproval they were separated. Henry was older than Florence, but with such a similar mind and soul they were a perfect match. Nobody else had ever understood her free – spirited radical mind. Her mind wandered into a pit of anxiety which consumed her mind and body causing her to feel ill. She breathed heavily rapidly rocking back and forth. She remembered how Henry had given this to her, the night he had asked her to marry him.
“You must be Henry’s wife,” she sighed. She didn’t know what to feel and stared at the grass as the entire world seemed to have briefly stopped. She remembered how Henry too was heartbroken that their marriage was not approved, but that his parents had arranged him to marry another. This must be her. Her heart began to ache.
Her thoughts were interrupted as the click clack of horse’s hooves were heard. Florence turned expecting to see the doctor’s carriage. Instead, two men leaped off the horse, one sprinting towards Florence. As he got closer, she recognised him, it was Henry. Her heart felt thrills of joy to be replaced with the bitter taste of reality. He skidded towards Florence, breathing heavily.
“She is okay, I’ve stopped the flow”. Henry looked shocked to see Florence, their eyes briefly locked, but his attention was focused on the fallen body.
“Thank God, and thank you Florence, the doctor is following us”. Florence put every grain of energy into a false smile. Seeing Henry in this way killed her internally. Florence still had her hand firmly pressed against the wound when the doctor arrived. She explained the situation as he took notes. He lifted her hand to examine the wound.
“This is severe, if the compression is lifted for even a few brief seconds, she could bleed out”.