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taj mahal

The Teenager The Teenager. Agra India 1927

The harsh confines of the convent life had quickly faded to the back of Beatrice mind. She had finished her schooling more than three months ago, and most of her time was now divided between getting to know her five brothers and helping to run the home.

Her mother taught her how to make fancy cakes and mouth- watering sweets such as mango fool, but naturally the servants did most of the household duties.

Beatrice enjoyed this special time with her mother but found it hard to converse with her about the essential things a seventeen year old girl needs to know.

Nell was aware of this and did her utmost to bond with her only daughter.

Basic cookery lessons were not stimulating enough, so she decided to teach Beatrice how to play tennis at the local club where the military families met.

Nell was an impressive player with an excellent serve, even at the grand age of thirty – seven. She was totally convinced that if she could pass on her expertise to Beatrice, it would be quite sufficient to overcome any gulf that lay between them.

Initially Beatrice responded well to this tutoring, but once she had learned the rules of tennis, she was intimidated by her mother’s overpowering presence.

She soon begged to be allowed to go and play unsupervised with the daughters and sons of family friends. Her pleading was relentless.

Eventually her parents succumbed to her prayers and the special day arrived. She had been invited to play a game of doubles with a girl friend of her own age and two junior army officers. Of course, all three were from well – respected families who frequented the club. Her girl friends parents would be at the club.

‘Bye Mum,’ she called, as she skipped down the drive to meet her girlfriend. As she did so she plucked a handful of her father’s prize sweet peas, gently crushing them between her fingers to release the perfume, then tossing them high in the air, watching the petals flutter down like falling snowflakes. She was ecstatic; her life had never been better.

Beatrice blushed as she was introduced to her partner for the match, not an ordinary blush, but the sort that heated her body to almost boiling point and coloured every inch of her skin. She could barely look him in the eye. She could not focus properly, so she shyly looked downwards.

The day passed in a haze, everything was perfect; the weather, the tennis, the picnic. Then no sooner had the day begun than it drew to a close. It was time to return home.

The young man, her tennis partner just for the day, walked her to the driveway of her house, minutes from the club. He bent down and gently planted a kiss on her lips. It tasted like the nectar from the sweet peas in the Mason’s garden. Then he turned and left. She was not sure whether she would see him again.

Beatrice stood and watched him until he disappeared from view. Happiness radiated from her, every inch glowing with warmth and contentment as she skipped up the drive, this time ignoring the sweet peas as she swept into the house. The Mali smiled and waved to her as he continued watering the plants.

‘Hello Mum,’ she called. ‘I’m home.’

camera Click here to view a picture of Mum with some friends.
The year is unknown.
(Mum is on the far right)

Nell had been concerned about Beatrice for some days now. She hadn’t been her usual perky self since returning from the tennis match with her friends. Initially Nell assumed it was due to the excitement of Beatrice’s first unescorted outing. But she knew that should have faded by now. Nell was not sure what to do. She had no idea how to handle a teenage daughter, especially one that she knew so little about.

That afternoon, Nell’s sister Aggie popped over to visit. Aggie was a favourite aunt of the Mason children. She was not as old as her sister but much more worldly wise. She found it easy to talk to her young niece about most things.

Nell told her sister about her concerns and Aggie found Beatrice sitting in a corner of her large bedroom, knees drawn up tightly to her chin, eyes red from crying.

‘What’s the matter Beatrice? Why are you so unhappy?’

Beatrice looked up at the sound of her aunt’s voice.

‘No reason,’ she said.

‘Come now,’ said Aunt Aggie. ‘I know you well enough to recognise you are telling me lies. I’ll ask you again. What’s bothering you?’

Beatrice looked up into her aunt’s penetrating but kindly eyes. Floods of tears ran down her cheeks.

‘I....I’m g...go.....going to have a baby Auntie Aggie.’

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The Story of Beatrice Mary Mason. Written by F. J. Louis | Copyright © 2009