This is the prequel to Frances Hodsgon Burnett The Secret Garden.
Lord Archibald Craven was on his way back to Misselthwaite Manor when he first noticed the beautiful raven haired Lady Lily Lennox working out in her garden in her father's and mother's Victorian cottage in Thwaite Village, Yorkshire England, The garden was given to her on her 17th birthday a few weeks before.
Lord Craven was unmarried, slightly physically handicap, but not without good looks and he was he sign still at the age when most m married. He just had not been able to find the right young woman to marry. He had met many young eligible women but most were self-centered and materialistic. He did not want to marry this type of young woman.
He looked out the window and noticed Lily working in her garden and ordered his coach driver to pull over to stop at the edge of the street. He got out of his coach to stretch his legs and rest and asked, "My lady may I sit here for a while I have come a long way."
Lily looked from what she was doing and replied, "Yes my lord you may sit there for a while." She continued to work in her garden.
Lord Craven decided to talk to Lily again, "My lady has a very pretty garden. She keeps it up well."
"Thank you my lord. It was a birthday present from my lord father and lady mother." Lily replies.
"You are an only child?" Lord Craven asks.
"No my lord I have an older brother in India with his wife." Lily replies, "He is in service to to Queen Victoria."
"Lily, Lily, who is that you are talking to?" Lady Lennox asks from the porch.
"Lord Craven my lady mother. He asked if he might stop here and rest a while." Lily answers.
Lady Lennox walks off her porch and over to where Lily and Lord Craven are talking and introduces herself, "I am Lady Lillian Lennox, Lily's mother."
"It is nice to meet you My lady Lennox. I am Lord Archibald Craven of Misselthwaite Manor." Lord Craven says with a little polite bow.
"I see you have met my daughter lady Lily." Lady Lennox says.
"Yes Mad'am and I was having a most enjoyable conversation with her. I hope I did not offend you by talking to her." Lord Archibald Craven apologizes.
"There is no need to apology Lord Craven as you have done nothing wrong." Lady Lennox answers.
"Why don't you join us for refreshments of sweet tea, oat cakes, and sweet plums in a jar. We are simple folks but would extend hospitality to a stranger." Lady Lennox replies.
Lord Archibald, Lady Lily, and Lady Lennox walk up the path to the Victorian cottage they live in and she opens the door and says, "My lord husband we have company. This gentleman is Lord Archibald Craven. He lives at Misselthwaite Manor."
Lord Lennox gets up, walks over, and says, "You are most welcome Lord Archibald Craven to our humble home. I see you have met our daughter lady Lily."
"Yes lord Lennox and I am very much enchanted by her beauty and love for the garden you gave her for her birthday." lord Craven said.
"We regret that most young women her age are already married and have had their coming out parties to introduce them into polite society. We, however are barely getting by and we can neither afford a dowry or coming out cotillion for our Lily. Our only hope is that we can find her a good match without both.
Lord Craven was thoughtful and but decided not to talk to lord and lady Lennox until later on about courting and marrying their beautiful daughter lady Lily. He was already in love with her and he knew she was the one he wanted to marry.
He would ask that he might be able to come and visit Lily with lord and lady Lennox approve within their property and after a six month courtship. He would go to lord and lady Lennox and ask for Lily's hand in marriage.
He did not care if she did not have a dowry. He did not care if she did not have a cotillion. He loved her regardless of all the social standings.
It was growing late and Lord Archibald got up from his chair and said, "Thank you lord and lady Lennox for your hospitality. I hope you might allow me to visit Lily again with your consent."
"Yes you may see Lily within our property but Lily must have a say in this too. What say you Lily?" lady Lennox asks her daughter.
"Oh yes mother I would like that very much." Lily says with a smile.
"It is settled you are welcome to see Lily anytime Lord Archibald." lord Lennox says.
"Thank you lord Lennox it has been pleasure. Good bye lady Lennox, Lady Lily, I hope to see you very soon.
Lord Archibald Craven walks out of lord Lennox cottage, to his coach, climbs into it, and it drives away.
The only thing that Lord Archibald Craven can think of is lady Lily. She is the love of his life.