Rose spun her raspberry-hued parasol behind her. Then she flipped it and spun it upon the path like a top wildly.
Violet laughed softly, in her easy way, the way Rose found easing to her wildness,
where she sat with her full skirts about her broadly.
"Look at Violet," Cleo said, "she looks like a plum pudding."
"She looks like a tuft," Elaine was quick.
"She looks," Carrie said, "a plum."
The women laughed, agreeing.
White lilies trembled through passing shade in a distant corner.
"How it was," Carrie began.
"How do we think it was?" Elaine asked of no 1 in particular.
"Well, I think," Haggerty replied unconcerned by the jagged edges of compass rose,
"we could have done no more."
"We could have done no better," Violet offered. She looked to Esme(e).
They all did.
In the stillness, for the breeze held, too, they thought they could hear the timepiece ticking steadily, steadily, ordered and predictable set away within the pocket.
the garden, sometimes terraced, then the orchard,
then the wilderness. All
is ordered, all is known. All
is profitable. All is for the glory of God.
But even with compass of architect and compass of traveler no 1could determine
exactly in which portion the lilies grew.
Rose jabbed her parasol into the pathway and left it there to grow. She looked into the fountain now quieted to reflective basin. She saw only trees dark as tea leaves. "We took," she said, "Haggerty away into life."
"A little more," Carrie suggested.
"A little different," Violet added.
Haggerty nodded emphatically and courageously and made that seem usual. "It was the least we could do."
"It might leave worse to come." Esme(e) spoke.
"What can be worse? I will die, as will we all. Possibly it will be upon a still night.
But it won't be now, it won't be yet. 1st we will save Edwina."
That was Esme(e)'s selfishness.
"We cannot spare you what will come," Esme(e) said.
"Can't we save her?" Cleo whispered watching Elaine.
"We can try," Carrie said.
"We shall fail," Violet said.
And Rose: "Esme(e) will never desist."
That was Haggerty's worth.
"Let's have tea," Haggerty said.
Elaine turned away from what she did not know yet. Her hair was swept back cleanly from her pure brow. She asked of Esme(e), "What is next?" while Rose poured and Violet distributed the cups. They were delicate, painted upon in treasured bouquets and diminutive bowers twining even to the gilded handles.
The chink of china on china occurred as they replaced cups to saucers appearing to savor the rich dark brew but in reality waiting for Esme(e) to speak.
Haggerty returned her cup holding the saucer high up under her chin. She gazed implacable at Esme(e) with eyes both perceptive and articulate.
Esme(e)'s words thrilled the garden in vital tones somber, uplifting, "We will meet Edwina. We will be there when she arrives. Always before my rendezvous has been with her
too late, too late, the appointed time and so this time we will breach the assignation as well as the proprieties and stand ready betimes."
"Stand about her."