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The Old Rose Garden

A Victorian Romance and Erotica short story
by Lady T. L. Jennings


Initially I did not like the new gardener that came to our estate Halifax manor outside Thornton in the western part of Yorkshire to help clear away the weeds and the ivy vines from the neglected and overgrown old rose garden.

In fact, I am quite willing to confess that I already disliked him intensely before I even met him for the first time.


It all started with a casual comment made by my brother at the breakfast table one early morning in June. We were sitting together at the end of the long breakfast table in the morning room. The wooden panel had been repainted in white and duck-egg blue, and the wooden carving had been gilded with gold-leaf paint a few years ago. Since the morning room faced east and the sun fell through the wide bay window from a clear blue sky, it made the room almost all too bright, in my opinion.

“Oh, and Georgina,” my brother, Stuart, said and looked up from the news paper he was reading, “you should know that next week I have arranged for a couple of workers from the village to come here and start clearing the gardens and that I have hired a new gardener.”

“What?” I said, surprised. “But why?”

“I am having some of the fruit trees in the orchard taken down. They have black rot, and I do not want it to spread. There are a couple of more things that need to be taken care of, and I thought that it was time to do something about the old rose garden too.”

It felt like breakfast turned to ash in my mouth, and suddenly the newly baked French rolls and curry eggs lost all of their appeal.

“But I do not want the rose garden to change!” I exclaimed, bewildered.

My left arm started to tremble slightly the way it always did when I was getting upset ever since the accident. I put down the delicate china tea cup before I spilled hot tea on the crepe fabric of my violet day dress.

Stuart lowered the newspaper, his brow slightly furrowed. He was my older brother, but most people could never have guessed that we were related at all. He was tall with fair wavy hair and handsome in a gentlemanly way. When we were younger, my sisters and I used to tease him and call him “Prince Albert” after Queen Victoria’s elegant consort. The only thing we had in common was the colour of our hair, but otherwise I was quite short and plain.

I knew I was not a beautiful lady, but had instead been given common features with pale blue eyes, a little bit too-short nose, and a rather small mouth with thin lips. All of my features were too small, as if I was a doll and never had been allowed to grow completely into my proper size.

My mother kindly called me “pretty and petite” and told me that I was going to bloom later in life, but everyone else thought that I would never marry, including myself.

“I thought you would be pleased about it?” Stuart replied before he added in a more adult voice that tolerated no nonsense, “Well, it needs to be done nevertheless, I am afraid. The gardens are getting completely overgrown, and since no one is taking care of–”

“You mean to say that your useless spinster sister should take up gardening, do you not?” I interrupted and stood up.

My left arm was trembling so badly I could neither control nor hide it any longer. His last comment had felt like a hidden insult, and although I knew deep down that Stuart did not mean it, my temper flared up.

“No,” Stuart said patiently and politely pretended not to notice the tremors of my arm, which only made me more cross with him. “That was not what I meant, and you know it.”

“Liar!” I said and gave him an icy glare, and without further comment, I hastily left the breakfast table before I said something that I would regret later.

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Copyright © 2013 Lady T. L. Jennings