“Rose! Anne! Will you stop mooning about and bring in those eggs?” Lillian looks at me with that little gleam of amusement that she has – a sort of brightening of the eye that conveys delight with no need of any curve to the smile. She is the quiet, still one, my lovely namesake. Serene as a lake, and with a womanly depth to her nature that makes her company pure delight. She and I are addressing ourselves to the preparation of some light and, hopefully, fluffy sponge cakes. Her fiancé’s parents come to tea today. They adore her already (who wouldn’t?) but it never hurts to make a good impression at every turn.
I roll my eyes and unreservedly roar out of the kitchen window; “Girls!” Finally there is some action from that quarter and the dreamy pair come drifting back through the herb garden. Lillian is a grown woman of twenty-four, but these two... although I don’t expect Rose, at nineteen to be too settled, Ann is just as bad, at twenty-two. Books, make believe, silly songs and impromptu pantomime in the garden... these are the things they love best.
I smile to myself as the eggs are handed over, still warm from the boxes. In truth I wouldn’t have my girls any other way, naturally enough. And although I often upbraid them for their undisciplined ways, I will stand ferocious guard over these lovely, carefree years of their youth. Time enough in any woman’s life to bend her mind, her back and her hands to the endless tasks of living.
Lillian and I whisk and fold, moving about the kitchen in a practised dance. Ann and Rose chatter like a pair of magpies, perched on high stools and stealing little pinches of batter whenever they can.