I’m pleased to host another guest piece today, from novelist and poet Patricia M Osborne. This is an extract from her short story, The Montefiore Bride, published by Hedgehog Poetry Press. You can read more about it – and Patricia – below.
The Montefiore Bride
A Sussex Fictional Tale Based on Facts
The Arrival – 19th September 1888
Mr Burr and I push past men in top hats and bonneted women hovering around Three Bridges. White and blue bunting shimmers in the autumn sun. Villagers grip red flags. Mr Burr and I wait with eager crowds for the half past four to arrive.
Red carpet in position, Sir Francis steps outside. I remember his Pa before him, a good man, one to respect, the Bart’s inherited that gift. He escorts his child bride, ‘Ice and Snow.’
Elegance in satin, her gown embroidered with pearls, she enchants onlookers. The footman opens the carriage, lifts the lady’s moon-lace train. She settles onto the seat. Her spouse slides close, smiles, kisses her hand. We all cheer.
Sir Francis gestures to the crowd, confident in his twenty-eighth year, a dignified laugh but his toothbrush tash creeps up and down. As a nipper he spent hours on our farm, watching me shear sheep and milk cows, or in the kitchen with my Mary, dipping his fingers in fruitcake mix, face blanched white with flour.
Lady Marianne’s slim fingers slip from his palm. Her wee face pale porcelain, nought but a young gal ripped away from her Austrian family.
Look here, it’s time. Mr Burr and I, we head the procession, he’s hereby from Worth, I be for Crawley, together we lead the bridal party. Blow, bellow, bang— tuba, French horn, drums— Crawley Band booms along the road. A horseman flicks the reins, the cab draws away. Red, yellow, pink blooms of swags and garlands drape across wellingtonia dark greens. Residents in hundreds wave hooray on either side of the flowered tunnel. The pair-horses ease to a halt, jog through an ornate iron-railed entrance, covered with burgundy ivy. I guide them into Worth Park.
Step back to 1888 and become part of the Victorian crowd waiting at Three Bridges Station.
Some background to the story, from Patricia herself:
“Back in 2017 as part of my MA in creative writing I was required to take up a writing residency. I chose my local Victorian Park, Worth Park, in Crawley, West Sussex. As part of the remit, I researched the park’s past going back to 19th September 1888 when Sir Francis Montefiore, the first and last Baronet of Worth Park, brought home his Austrian bride and created a short fictional West Sussex tale, The Montefiore Bride.
The Montefiore Bride is based on facts, filling in the gaps with fiction, which in turn brought me a winning place with The Hedgehog Poetry Press after I entered a prickly shorts competition. The story is published in print by Hedgehog Poetry Press and bound in a beautiful cover to create a prose/poetry pamphlet costing £5.99 plus postage and packaging. Also available in pdf format by email at £2.99. All proceeds of sales from The Montefiore Bride (purchased via my website) go to my local homeless shelter, Crawley Open House.”
Patricia M Osborne is married with grown-up children and grandchildren. She was born in Liverpool but now lives in West Sussex. In 2019 she graduated with an MA in Creative Writing (University of Brighton).
Patricia writes novels, poetry and short fiction, and has been published in various literary magazines and anthologies. She has two published novels, House of Grace and The Coal Miner’s Son and the third in its trilogy, ‘The Granville Legacy’ is to be published March 2021. Her debut poetry pamphlet, Taxus Baccata, and short story, The Montefiore Bride, narrated in prose poetry, were published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press in 2020.
She has a successful blog at Whitewingsbooks.com where she features other writers and poets. When Patricia isn’t working on her own writing, she enjoys sharing her knowledge, acting as a mentor to fellow writers and as an online poetry tutor with Writers’ Bureau.