We engaged in some Smalltalk during which Sinclair expressed admiration for the garden and invited Jocelyn to call him by his first name, and Jocelyn did a good deal of blushing and stammering. Soon, though, being a person of good sense and fundamentally sound nerves, she calmed down to her normal self. It was at that point that we were able to get down to brass tacks.
"As I told you, love," I said, "Brontë has a problem."
She turned to Sinclair. "Charlie has given me the summary," she said gently. "If you want to tell me a bit more, to talk about Emma that might help you feel better; and it might help us understand the situation more thoroughly and think what to do. But, if you don't, that's all right too. We have enough information to be going on with."
She paused. Since he didn't answer she went on, looking thoughtful. "You know," she said slowly, "Emma came to stay with me once, two or three years ago. Her parents weren't thrilled with the idea, but of course both Percy and her PCR were here, and they were staying on the other side of Falibana, so in the end they allowed it. We had a good time. Poor Emma. I hated to send her back to the gilded cage her parents keep her in. I wonder if she could come and stay again."
"That's all very well," I began, wondering at the irrelevance of the remark. That was unlike Jocelyn.
"Yes," she interrupted impatiently. "But, don't you see? That way, the two of them could have time together. I know how important it is for me to have you around and just have time together to talk, or not talk, or whatever without knowing you've got to leave in half an hour, or whatever." I felt the same way and said so, a little awkwardly.
There was pain in Sinclair's face as well as doubt. "I don't know," he said. "It's worth a try." He shrugged hopelessly. "It's better than anything we've been able to come up with." He turned slightly away, his shadowed face wistful. "Maybe we could even take her to Marooner's Haven for a little while. I… I designed it for Emma and she's never seen or set foot on it."
I thought about the old fashioned, comfortable but, yes, totally accessible house, and the gardens, and the shore skimmer. "You fitted up that shore skimmer for Emma, didn't you?" I asked in sudden comprehension.
"Yes. She never had one. Her parents thought it was too dangerous. And, of course, when she was little it was. But even now she's not allowed to go on the water. I think myself it's more because Mrs. Morrow can't swim and is afraid of the water than because of Emma's disabilities, but those do offer a convenient explanation. I'm amazed they let her ride."
"Me too," I nodded." Thank the Trinity they do, though."
"Oh, yes. She'd go mad otherwise."
Jocelyn, who had been thinking, broke in. "Is it you the Morrows disapprove of, Brontë, or the general idea of Emma having a beau? If it's only you they object to, there's a chance we can change their minds. If they don't want her to have a gentleman friend," she paused. "Well, I'm afraid you're sunk.
To be continued