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White Lilac; or the Queen of the May   By: (1848-1899)

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White Lilac, by Amy Walton Mrs White had had several children before the birth of this one, but they had all died. This makes her quite determined to make sure that this one survives. She was telling a visitor that she thought of calling the baby Annie, in honour of the visitor, but she had just been saying how much she loved white lilacs, and her husband had brought a branch of it over from a nearby village. So the visitor said, call her Lilac White, as there were already too many Annie Whites in the village. Unfortunately the father dies shortly after, and the mother has to bring the child up on her own.

Now she is twelve, and a pretty child. A visiting artist asks if he may put her in one of his pictures. Lilac goes off with her cousin Agnetta, who believes she needs a new hair do. Needless to say, the result is not attractive to the artist, who now refuses to put her in the picture.

Other characters in the story are Uncle Joshua, who is a good and well loved man, and Peter, probably in his late teens, who is a farm worker, well intentioned but clumsy. A big event in the village is May Day, and there is rivalry among the girls about which of them shall be Queen of the May. It is Lilac. Yet that very day her mother is taken ill and dies. She is taken to their home by a farmer and his wife, and taught the dairymaid arts such as butter and cheese making. In those days a girl such as Lilac would hope to be taken into domestic service and trained up to such high levels as house keeper or cook. Lilac has some opportunities will she or won't she take them up? A lovely book that takes us back to long gone days in the pastoral England of the 1850s. NH




"What's in a name?" Shakespeare .

Mrs James White stood at her cottage door casting anxious glances up at the sky, and down the hill towards the village. If it were fine the rector's wife had promised to come and see the baby, "and certainly," thought Mrs White, shading her eyes with her hand, "you might call it fine for April." There were sharp showers now and then, to be sure, but the sun shone between whiles, and sudden rays darted through her little window strong enough to light up the whole room. Their searching glances disclosed nothing she was ashamed of, for they showed that the kitchen was neat and well ordered, with bits of good substantial furniture in it, such as a long bodied clock, table, and dresser of dark oak. These polished surfaces smiled back again cheerfully as the light touched them, and the row of pewter plates on the high mantelshelf glistened so brightly that they were as good as so many little mirrors. But beside these useful objects the sunlight found out two other things in the room, at which it pointed its bright finger with special interest. One of these was a large bunch of pure white lilac which stood on the window sill in a brown mug, and the other was a wicker cradle in which lay something very much covered up in blankets. After a last lingering look down the hill, where no one was in sight, Mrs White shut her door and settled herself to work, with the lilac at her elbow, and the cradle at her foot. She rocked this gently while she sewed, and turned her head now and then, when her needle wanted threading, to smell the delicate fragrance of the flowers. Her face was grave, with a patient and rather sad expression, as though her memories were not all happy ones; but by degrees, as she sat there working and rocking, some pleasant thought brought a smile to her lips and softened her eyes. This became so absorbing that presently she did not see a figure pass the window, and when a knock at the door followed, she sprang up startled to open it for her expected visitor.

"I'd most given you up, ma'am," she said as the lady entered, "but I'm very glad to see you... Continue reading book >>

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