Another charming story in this collection. In The Rose in the Picture, the protagonist Ursula is interested in Henry Potter, the son of the village vicar. Henry is only a few years older than Ursula. They had known each other since they were children, however, they are not friends. Ursula remembers the Christmas parties and dances she spent miserably as a little girl yearning for Henry’s attention. Henry always chose to dance with girls a few years older than Ursula, leaving her to suffer little boys her age and dance with them who “bumped her into other couples, trod on her toes and sometimes left her abruptly, marooned, in the middle of a dance, so that she had to run away and hide in another room till the music was over!”
Many years later Ursula and Henry are both grownups – Henry is now a scholar at Oxford. But Ursula hasn’t forgotten the one occasion in their childhood when she caught Henry kissing his dancing partner. Henry brought Beryl or whoever it was into the same room Ursula was hiding during a dance, and the two started “gobbling, as if they were starved.” 😀 Before this happened in Ursula’s eyes Henry “had been a hero, too grand for her acquaintance,” but this kiss had changed all that. It was like “there were two Henrys, and she alone knew them both, and the second put the first one out of account.” So what will happen when Henry meets Ursula again at her house and sees her painting – the very same painting she thinks will help her find her soulmate…
The Rose in the Picture is a precious story that gave me more than a few chuckles along the way. I was impressed by the way Towers managed to imitate the mindsets of youngsters – in that regard the portrayal of little Ursula is a bit similar to Prissy in Tea with Mr. Rochester.
Only four more stories left for me in this collection as I’ve already read Spade Man from Over the Water, and I’m already feeling sad, but I’m sure there will be more Persephones for me to uncover and indulge. 🙂