Chapter 1

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Today, is a fine day, Lady Diana Beaumont thought, as she strolled down the calm street in her cream empire waist morning dress, over which, she wore her soft red spencer jacket. The strong crisp wind swept past her skirts and her hair, threatening everything to come apart, and as she held onto her bonnet against her head, Diana was suddenly reminded of her father's words over breakfast, which had included a rather bold prediction of a storm. It was an early autumn day, and colors had already started shifting from bright to muted oranges and burnt reds around her. The usual hustle and bustle of the countryside felt like music to her ears, with the people's chatter mixed with bird songs in perfect rhythm. The air was largely pine cone scented, with a hint of everything else. Lady Diana Beaumont cast smiles at all the passerbys acknowledging her; with the gentlemen tipping their top hats in greeting and some of the ladies stepping suddenly in front of her in an attempt to make a conversation Diana felt would last longer than she'd prefer it to. 

Diana's father, Lord Augustus Beaumont was a retired navy official and as a result of his service and fortune, owned the Bellevue Hall in Southampton. Her family estate had always been a rather popular ground in the county. Lord Augustus Beaumont's importance n society deemed it to be so. Bellevue Hall marked one of the highlights of Southampton, it was somewhat of a county landmark, with the society referring to it countless times in conversations when explaining a certain someone their own address.

'Oh, I live just in front of Bellevue Hall.'
'Oh, haven't you seen Bellevue Hall? Yes, I live just two streets across it!' 

Diana had become so accustomed to her family home being mentioned in everyone's conversations, that sometimes she'd forget it really was her home they were referring to, and not a museum.  

Despite her father's disapproval on her morning walk, Diana had still set out. Her morning walks were always one of her major highlights of the week. Every time on each of her walks, she would go visit the sunflower fields. The gorgeous sunflower fields of Southampton were undoubtedly the best out of all of Hampshire. The stunning yellow hues of the flowers stretched for miles and miles, and the sun seemed to be setting into a bed of them, if you saw the scene from the hills. 

It had been a while since she stopped by the field. The last time she was there, it had been with her cousin, Lady Alicia Kirkpatrick, who was just as fond of the field as she was. After Alicia had went abroad to meet a cousin of hers in France, Diana had no heart to venture out here without her. It had to be their most favorite spot in the whole of the county, after the Ivy beach of course. The Ivy Beach was another one of the county's jewels, with it's crystal clear water crashing against the rocks on the shore and the sand beneath the feet so soft one would feel as though they walked on clouds. Sometimes Diana wondered how much the other people in the world were missing out, how was one to live knowing there was such beauty elsewhere that they'd probably never see? 

As she approached the fields, she could spot the vibrant yellows of the sunflowers from a distance. Her heart filled with joy, as the nectary sweet pine infused air took hold of her senses and very soon she could not hear a word of the incident Mrs Hart, who had joined Diana shortly after she had set out, was narrating to her. As she kept on picking up her pace elegantly, and as Mrs Hart struggled to keep up, Diana soon approached the fields and completely forgot about the unwelcome companion that had tagged along. 

A mesmerized sigh escaped her lips upon the view. No matter how many times she saw it, she was always taken back by the beauty of it. As far as her eyes could see, the yellow gradient lay over the miles of land in her view. The sight was beautiful, exceptionally beautiful. 

"Oh, you're quite a runner," Mrs Hart panted as she stroked her chest trying to level her breathing. 

Diana blinked as the voice caught her attention. Stepping out of her trance and straightening herself, she turned to her companion. 

"Oh no Mrs Hart, I never run, I just merely walk," She smiled sweetly, "Now if you'll excuse me, I must be heading home." Diana had yearned for a just a glance of the fields that day, she still hadn't the heart to stay without Alicia. When her cousin was her, they'd sit in the soft grass for hours, talking about anything and everything as they stroked the silken petals of the sunflowers. Amongst the yellow gradient, they'd be hidden from any unwanted company approaching them. Hidden in the flowers' sweet and bright embrace. It felt like they were but tiny bees, drowned in a sea of yellow. 

Mrs Hart's smile twitched a little as she tried not to look confused, it was no wonder that half of the things Lady Diana said made no sense to her. Was the lady trying to be truthful or merely just making a jest, Mrs Hart could ever tell, "But what about the recommendation? I was hoping Lord Beaumont would oblige," she uttered quickly, pivoting to face Diana who was about to walk off. 

"Oh, of course, Mrs Hart, father would most certainly agree to recommend your son-," Diana paused, her eyebrows raised as she looked towards the unwelcome companion in inquiry.

"Mr Luke Hart," Mrs Hart rushed, her smile showing all of her teeth all the way to the back ones, making Diana feel slightly uncomfortable. 

"Mr Hart," Diana repeated with a nod before continuing, "for the navy position he so hopes for, even though he seems to have little to no experience at all in the field." 

"Nevertheless, you mustn't give up hope," She added with a bright reassuring smile, which, surprisingly, did far from reassure the slightly shaken Mrs Hart.  

Returning homewards, she could not shake the view of the field out of her head, and she did not mind. Diana could not wait to tell her father and mother how beautiful the field was this morning, but she was afraid she'd get slightly scolded first. It was almost lunch time, and father had let her go with strict instructions to return back in an hour as she had left two hours before lunch. Diana had intended to, but Southampton ladies had quite the hunger for conversation and she had been stopped nearly more times than she could've counted on her way to the fields. Being the eldest of the three Beaumont daughters, Lady Diana Beaumont was always expected to adhere to her father's rules first.

Her father's displeased face was the last thing Diana wanted to see today, so she quickened her pace, her hands holding up her cream muslin skirts as she climbed the steps to Bellevue Hall. Her estate was a huge rectangular and beautiful milk cream colored building with bright purple wisteria climbers starting from the ground and spreading across the cream walls.

The gorgeous wisteria framed one window beautifully in particular, out of all the other numerous windows. That window was Lady Diana Beaumont's bedroom window. She had taken the highest room in the house in hopes of waking up to the view of the whole city every day. Diana could see almost everything from that window, from the shops opening, to Mrs Hart running around paying early calls around the neighborhood in hopes of getting a favor out of almost everyone. 

She smiled; everything in her life was perfect. She had a house that she loved; she was born in a county she adored and she had a happy family. In the countless books she'd read over the years, Diana had realized that things do not always remain as they were. Change is inevitable, and she knew that, but Diana wanted to make the most of her life as it was before she was taken by surprise. 

"Diana, you almost missed lunch, did I not remind you to return early?" Lord Augustus Beaumont's deep voice welcomed her as he peeked over the newspaper he was reading in the drawing room.

A maid quickly approached her and helped her take her bonnet off. Walking inside the drawing room, she was met by her mother and father. Her mother, Lady Ruth Beaumont, sat seated on the sofa, knitting, and her father was in a velvet arm chair beside. They had been waiting for her to arrive as they seldom took lunch without a member of the family missing. 

"Father, I'm sorry, I'll be more punctual next time," Diana apologized, a playful pout played on her lips as she glanced at a clock and realized she was just in time. There was no alternative ending to the present, what had happened, had happened, there was no concept of something almost happening, it was just something people made up, to focus on the pros or cons of a situation. 

Putting down the newspaper, Lord Beaumont sighed, "It's okay, my darling." Then he called out for the butler swiftly, to put out the lunch on the table in the dining room and fetch Henrietta and Mary Ann, the other two Beaumont daughters, who were, most likely, busy doing absolutely nothing productive in their respective bedrooms.

"After lunch, Diana, your aunt Margaret is coming to visit with her family," Mother said, smiling. Aunt Margaret was one mother's elder sisters and she always loved it when she came over. They both could go on talking for hours on end, and though their conversational topics ranged from socially acceptable to only family acceptable, Diana loved every moment of her Aunt's visit.

Aunt Margaret had always been a really good aunt to Diana and her sisters; she was kind, gentle and always very humorous. It was her family actually, that were the real challenge. 

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