‘The tender grace of a day that is dead will never come back to me!’
-Alfred Tennyson Lord
Eliza Garrett is non-plussed, for Lords Molesworth is like a a devoted daschhund that having been kicked once, twice, nay, thrice a day, will insist upon waddling back to its master and slathering over his boots.
“Will ye leave go of my waist! Leave go of it! I’m warning yeah!” says she wriggling sufficiently out of his grasp to be able to reach backwards for the letter opener and put it to his throat,”You’ll not make a fallen woman out of me! I’ll slit your throat as soon as look at yeah! And get your hands off my bustle!” says she lashing out with a booted foot.
Panting and wide-eyed, Lord Molesworth does as he is bid, edging slowly away to the side of his Cherrywood desk, nearest the door. Eliza’s eyes narrow momentarily, for here she spies a second conundrum, how is she to pass through the narrow gap between the book case and the desk with her hands full of dishes and avoid his Lordship’s depraved wanderings? Backing slowly away from the potential encounter (and adjusting her bicycle clipped skirts, so that her dress is bunched securely at the knees once more), Eliza perceives a means of escape; hurling two dinner plates at Lord Molesworth’s head and leaping over the desk, she manages to get to the door which is smoothly opened from outside by Fitchett, the butler. Fitchett smiling sweetly takes the dishes from her outstretched arms and thrusts her back into the room, “Silverware!” he bellows loudly before shutting the door and leaving her alone once more with Lord Molesworth. His Lordship is rapt, his eyes shine with love, his bewhiskered face is flushed, he trembles visibly.
“You are splendiforous Eliza!You are no beauty t’is true! But I thrill to you Eliza, as I have thrilled to no other! The very sight of you makes me feel as though the years are falling away from me, like a garment! Come here my gel! Embrace me!”
But Eliza is long gone having leapt back over the desk, dived for the silverware and wriggled out of the ground floor window. His face is flushed and his bosom heaving with repressed ardour as he climbs out of the window and follows her. Eliza sprints towards the hedge maze for once she has lost Lord Molesworth here, she is certain that she may proceed in peace through the rest of her day. But a’las it is not to be, for with every twist and turn of the maze Eliza becomes more and more lost until, at length, exhausted and confused, she finds herself trapped at its centre with no conceivable means of escape.
What to do? She examines the silverware in her pocket, pulls out a gleaming silver fork and hides herself in a hedge wall in readiness for his lordship’s emergence. Oh how have things come to such a pretty pass? She is a good girl full of good intentions, aspiring to one day run a boarding house along the Blackpool sea front! What appalling twist of fate could possibly have brought her to this?
“Eliza? Lizzie dearest!Where are you my love?”
Eliza waits until she has him full in her sights before emerging from the bushes and launching herself full upon him, there then ensues an epic struggle in the midst of which Eliza loses both fork and bicycle clips. Administering a hefty slap to his lordship’s cheeks causes his spectacles to fly off; indeed such is the ferocity of their encounter that it is safe to say that neither party dare exit the hedge maze in broad daylight, for fear of the scandal that might ensue.
“I’m ruined sir! Ruined! I’d slap you once more had I the strength!” and with that Eliza falls silent. Lord Molesworth surveys the prone figure of the exquisite housekeeper wistfully, what a woman! He feels and thinks these sentiments but dare’st not utter them, so apt to fly into a passion is she. And so there they lie, on the floor of the maze, panting with exhaustion and silent at length, each pondering the folly of the other, until, at last (and with much trepidation), Lord Molesworth asks Eliza if she will be his bride. Eliza rolls her eyes, has the man heard nothing she’s said?
“Will you free the workers unjustly imprisoned in Newgate? Do that and I’ll plight you my troth” declares she triumphantly as she leaps to her feet, for she is sure that this member of the moneyed classes will baulk at the very idea. Poor child! Wholly unenlightened as to the transformative effects of passion! “My love!” declares Lord Molesworth,
“My dearest Eliza! Ready yourself to marry me this Sunday hence!”