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About the Author

Valerie Maple, born in Wareham, Dorset in 1950. Married


with grown children, she travels to many places around the
globe. Her inspiration came from the Canadian Rockies and
subsequent cruise to Alaska. Valerie enjoys time with her
family, travel, quilting and reading. Living on the south coast,
she enjoys being beside the sea.

For my family, with love.

Va l e r i e M a p l e

THE GIRL IN THE


TURQUOISE

DRESS

Copyright Valerie Maple (2015)


The right of Valerie Maple to be identified as author of this
work has been asserted by her in accordance with section 77
and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any
form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the
publishers.
Any person who commits any unauthorized act in relation to
this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil
claims for damages.
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious or used
fictitiously. Except for certain historical personages, any
resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely
coincidental.
A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the
British Library.
ISBN 9781785546761 (Paperback)
ISBN 9781785546778 (Hardback)
www.austinmacauley.com
First Published (2015)
Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd.
25 Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London
E14 5LQ
Printed and bound in Great Britain

A very big thank you to my family; Eric, Dawn, Geoff,


Carolyn, Jack, Charlotte and Noah for the help patience and
encouragement they gave me with this, my first novel.
Thank you, Carolyn for designing the wonderful cover.
Thank you Nora, for your help.

PROLOGUE
Dorset summer 1899

Daisy was crying. Keeping a secret was a painful business.


Deep, heart-wrenching sobs racked her body as she curled
up in the faded armchair in the old railway carriage. Her
surroundings reminded her of her dear granny and grandpa,
now dead, but who once lived in there. The aroma of the
violet toilet water granny used still clung to the cushions
and curtains. The carriage sat at the bottom of the garden,
surrounded by the chickens that pecked and scratched the
bare earth. She felt that she couldnt take any more.
Nobody was around to hear her despair, except for the
chickens.
Slowly rising from the chair, Daisy stepped off the
doorstep, leaving the door open allowing the hens to peck
around inside. She noticed nothing as she made her way
past the washing hanging on the line and the pigsty,
through the back door, across the scullery and up the
narrow stairs to her bedroom. Bending down, she pulled out
the cardboard box from under her bed and blew the dust off
the top. Taking off the lid, she released the turquoise dress
from its covering of tissue paper. This is beautiful she
whispered as she held it to her face. The silk caressed her

cheek and she noticed that it still smelled of honeysuckle.


Shed expected it to smell musty; the dried flowers in
amongst the tissue paper ensured the dress retained a
pleasant aroma. Holding the garment in her hands, she now
knew what she had to do. Having decided she quickly took
off the fustian garment they forced her to wear and stepped
into the silk dress. It took her a while to fasten the tiny
pearl buttons on the front of the bodice. The dress still
fitted her perfectly. The fabric whispered as it flowed
around her legs. It curved into the small of her back like a
second skin, flaring out over her hips.
Keeping the canvas shoes on her feet, Daisy flew down
the stairs, out of the front door, through the gate and onto
the road verge. She knew the times of the trains and
realised there wasnt much time before the London train
reached the halt. She ran like the wind. She was going to
meet Tom, shed promised to wave to him from the
crossing gates. Shed go one better than wave.
Stan and Adas house was situated right next to the
platform at Thorpe Matravers halt. Stan, the crossing
keeper was just closing the gates to traffic, prior to the
London to Wareham train speeding through. He then turned
around and slowly ambled back to the tiny ticket office. As
soon as the train was through, he would go back and open
the gates again. Not much passed along the lane that the
railway tracks crossed; just a few farm carts and the
carriages belonging to the gentry at the big house.
A cup of tea is just what I need, mumbled Stan to
himself.
Standing in her kitchen and looking out of her window,
Ada saw a flash of turquoise dash past at speed. Funny
she mumbled to herself. That looked just like Daisy Evans.
She should slow down afore she as an accident.

CHAPTER ONE
Dorset September 1897

The sun drenched gardens looked beautiful, the borders and


rockeries ablaze with colour; chrysanthemums, asters,
dahlias and phlox in vivid red, orange and white glowed in
the late summer sun. On either side of the path stretched
finely mowed lawns, their broad sweep broken here and
there by sturdy oaks that cast long shadows over the gravel
paths. In the near distance, in contrast to the green of the
grass, the stubble of the newly harvested hay fields
gleamed tan and gold in the late sunshine; haystacks rising
in the middle of the fields like watching sentinels. Looking
stately in her russet coloured velvet dress, and buttoned
black boots, Matilda, Lady Thorpe strode from her house,
down the Ladys Walk towards the Big Lawn and the
marquee where the annual village harvest supper was to be
held, as was the custom, every September. This year, the
evening was warm and fine. The winds of the previous day
had quite abated allowing the flaps of the marquee pegged
on the largest lawn, to be tied back and ripple in the gentle
breeze. Last year the rain poured incessantly, destroying the
decorations, followed by a thunderstorm which completely
spoiled the evening. Matildas dressed hair was hidden by

her wide brimmed hat that kept the sun from her pale skin,
and hid the fine oval bone structure of her face and her big
hazel eyes. In one hand she held a rolled parasol and in the
other a small bag. A warm fringed shawl was wrapped
loosely around her shoulders and the scent of the lavender
water she used wafted on the breeze. Her ladys maid, Jane
Evans, followed reverently a few steps behind, her black
bombazine dress and cotton petticoats rustling as she
moved.
Waiting on the lawn smoking a large cigar hoping to
ward off midges, was her husband, Harry, Lord Thorpe,
landowner, philanthropist, squire of Thorpe Matravers
village and Justice of the Peace. His broad-shouldered
figure was immaculately dressed in a lightweight dark
coloured suit, cravat, and white high collar shirt. He held a
soft felt hat in his hand, occasionally flapping it around the
flying insects that pestered him. As he waited, Harrys
thoughts were of last years harvest supper. His eldest son
and heir, William had been here, but now he had left
Thorpe and travelled to Alaska to join the gold rush. He
was a budding journalist and artist. As part of his craving
for something exciting to do, he embarked on a mission to
explore and report back first-hand how it was to be part of
this exciting but dangerous event. Will sent back items and
drawings describing his travels via Liverpool, New York,
Ottawa and Vancouver. Many of these articles having been
printed in several publications of note such as Travel News
Monthly and The Dorset Traveller; it was known that a
loyal fan base was expectantly reading his exploits. The
family also avidly read the few letters he wrote home,
which detailed more personal news, such as his health and
finances, giving them a clearer picture of his experiences,
alongside some personal illustrations.
Harry and Matildas second son, Tom, was restless as
well. He expended some of his energy in turning a corner
4

of the estate into a folly park. After visiting a similar park


in Shropshire he decided to build one at Thorpe Park.
Two miles from the house and park was situated the
Thorpe Matravers Pottery, whose one hundred and fifty
foot chimney could be seen for many miles around.
Managed by Tom, Harry built it as a place of employment
for the labourers in the village and surrounding areas, as
due to the collapse of the button making industry in the
area, unemployment had taken a dreadful toll. Attached to
the pottery was a small railway that also employed workers.
The pottery and railway was Thomass domain and Harry
rarely intervened in the business.
My dear, said Matilda cheerfully. The farm cart will
be here any moment and you seem very pensive. What is
on your mind?
There you are, my dear. I was thinking of Will and
Tom. We havent had a letter from Will for a while, I do
hope all is well, said Harry, as he put his arm around her
shoulders. He looked at his beautiful wife; he was so lucky
to be married to such a woman; elegant, kind,
compassionate. The improvements she had made to the
village pleased him immensely, in particularly the church
school full of children, many of whom had never been
taught before. The villagers in the past had struggled for so
long with poverty and lack of employment. Now, their
work together, building the pottery and church school
improved the lot of many of the village people, as had the
home farm and surrounding farms owned by the Thorpe
Matravers estate. He was, quite rightly, proud to have her
by his side. The villagers were pleased to be able to
celebrate this festival with their employer and family; who
were remarkable people and landlords.
Here they are, now we can get on with the festivities.

As Harry spoke a farm cart appeared. It was highly


decorated with wild and cultivated flowers, greenery and
stalks of corn. Being Her Majesty Queen Victorias
Diamond Jubilee year, red, white and blue bunting was
strategically placed all around the festivity areas. The proud
farm horse was also decorated with a garland of flowers
around his neck. Harry and Matilda smiled at hearing the
young village girls squealing with laughter as the young
men gallantly helped them down off the cart. Amongst the
girls were Daisy and her sister, Ivy, the daughters of Jane
and Bert Evans; Bert being the foreman of the pottery, and
Jane, Matildas maid. Davey, a furnace stoker at the
pottery, was fond of Ivy. Yer we be, then Ivy my love he
chuckled as he helped her off the cart. At seventeen, he was
two years older than Ivy and was trying to gain her
affection by pinching her firm, young buttocks, believing
she liked it.
Stop it, Davey! shrieked Ivy, feigning disapproval but
pleased nonetheless at the attention.
Dance wi me, tonight, Ivy, he pleaded. Then Ill
walk yer ome, make sure you get in safe.
Why would I want to dance with you, Davey Barnes? I
want to dance with someone and some.
andsome is as ansome does, Ivy. I could do you
ansome anytime.
Ya aint getting the chance. Can ya hear im, Jessie?
Just ignore him.
But he keeps pinchin me bum.
Then clout im round his earole.
Momentarily giving up on Ivy, Davey joined his mates
who were heading for a barrel of ale and the girls ran
giggling into the marquee. There was much laughter, too,
from the village folk walking to the event behind the cart.
This way of travelling to the supper was a Thorpe family

tradition, having been started by Harrys grandfather who


had originally built Thorpe House. Harry and Matilda were
keen to uphold the traditions.
The men had put up the marquee and placed bales of
straw around the inside edges. The marquee was also
decorated with garlands of wild flowers, crowns of wheat
and sheaves of corn. Candles, set in greenery, were placed
around the tables, and oil lamps hung from poles set firmly
in the ground. A trestle table and chairs were set up on a
rostrum for the Thorpe family, alongside two trestles
covered with white damask cloths set ready for the food.
The staff in the big house spent days cooking meat, bread,
pickles and suchlike, and baking bread and pies, sweet and
savoury. The two dairymaids, Jessie and Annie produced
the cheese and cream, which they made daily in the dairy
shed. The ale had been delivered by dray from the brewery
in Wareham. Six of the village women had decorated the
cart and horse that morning. At five in the evening, the cart
was led around the village collecting the girls, young men
and those too elderly or infirm to walk and make its way
slowly to Thorpe estate. All the villagers wore their Sunday
best: the girls very pretty in cotton or muslin sprigged
dresses and bonnets decorated with flowers; the men
feeling uncomfortable in their suits with highly polished
boots: the womens shawls draped elegantly around their
shoulders. This all combined to produce a very pretty
picture, thought Matilda as she looked around her. Also,
this year, Lord Thorpe had hired a photographer from Poole
to produce memorable pictures of the occasion. Harry had
agreed to Mr Martin Kimbers request to include some of
the pictures he produced in a pamphlet he was creating to
celebrate the Jubilee. Will would enjoy seeing them upon
his return. These pamphlets would be sent as far away as
London.
Photographs are a wonderful record, Lord Thorpe,
said Mr Kimber expansively. Wonderful to pore over in
7

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