Violetta Clarice Persephone Berringham-Jones was aware that she could never be in films. There was not a great deal to recommend her for such a career. Her mother had told her so. She looked into the mirror regularly to see if things might have changed. They didn’t change much. Violetta came from a family of lookers – but she herself must have been otherwise engaged when they were giving out sexy lips, elegant noses and beautiful eyes. Her sisters spent time and money enhancing their appearances. Violetta always wondered why, as they seemed well endowed with looks to start with. Mummy, Camilla, Arabella and Fenella would waltz through shopping malls accumulating wardrobes which would turn heads. They did – and that was still in wraps. Mummy had pointed out one day that , although her own family, the Berringhams, were a little on the short side – and it did take a lot of effort to appear elegant when one was challenged in that way Darling – they did have that wonderful head of corn coloured waves. Furthermore, Violetta’s sisters had inherited, not just the Berringham locks, but also their father’s noble profile topped with flashing cornflower blue eyes. However, Mummy soothed Violetta,
“You shouldn’t worry Dear. I do believe that you will have your day in your middle age. Someone with your looks will gain character in the face as one grows old.”
This didn’t make much difference to Violetta’s savage breast. She sighed as she watched one man after another pull up outside “The Gables” and drive away with either Camilla, Arabella or Fenella, on a date. She buried her head under the covers as they arrived home, late of an evening, all giggling and girlie.
Violetta found solace in her reading. She did a lot of reading. She didn’t talk about it much but she loved poetry – not the modern any-fool-can-write-that sort of thing, but the old fashioned beautifully worded kind of work. She knew it was out of mode but she was really turned on by Wordsworth’s poetry. She was delighted when they appeared on the required reading list for her Literature night class.
This week the students have been studying the “Lucy Poems” and now they are seated in room 17 on the first floor of Wilson Block, waiting for the discussion to begin. Mr. Foster gives a brief talk about Wordsworth’s reasons for writing the poems and asks Violetta what she thinks the poet meant by his reference to a violet which he describes as being partially hidden, “fair as a star when only one is shining in the sky”.
Words do not come easily but she answers him:
“Well I suppose that, if all other pretty stars had left the heavens, then the one remaining star would appear beautiful, even if it were rather a run-of-the-mill thing – simply because there would be nothing to outshine it.”
Mr. Foster says that Violetta’s answer is a good and acceptable one but, before they go on to the next point he would like the class to think about other possible explanations,and to jot them down as they may be useful in a future written assessment. Violetta does not think she needs to do this, given that she has already contributed to the discussion. She’s done her bit.
Now she is in the coffee bar at the break, she is more than just a little delighted when Mr. Foster, whom she knows has been given the very masculine forename of Ralph, asks if she would mind if he takes the vacant seat beside her. Of course she wouldn’t mind. She has been in love with him since the class began in September.
“There was nothing wrong with your view about the violet by the mossy stone, Violetta. I just wanted to see if anyone could think of any other possible meaning. You see,” and here he leans over to Violetta as if he doesn’t want anyone else to hear, “I think you are that violet, you even share the name, and you are fair because you don’t know that you are fair. You, Violetta, are surrounded by lumps of rock but you are the one which shines. You are the star.”
Violetta puts down her coffee cup and stares at this man of her dreams. Surely he is making fun of her. Surely he has stolen her diaries and is going to use the information to have some fun. But she knows enough about the man to be aware that here is an honourable person, a person given only to making people feel at their ease. Here is someone who takes the time to get to know the students so that he can help them maximise their individual potential.
“I . . don’t . . know . . what to say.”
“Well you could try answering “Yes” to my next question. Would you allow me to take you for dinner on Saturday, Violetta?”
And that is how the violet, half hidden from the eye, begins to bloom and fragrance the lives of all who come to know her.