Half an hour later she arrived at the cottage to find her mother. “That bag over in the corner is for you, dearie. It was brought by a pageboy from the castle this afternoon. He said it was a gift.” Cecily didn’t notice the anxious, halting tone in her mother’s voice. She immediately hurried to untie the thin cord that bound the shapeless bag. When it fell away she gazed upon a single rose in full bloom—deep, rich purple in color— in a delicate glass vase. The petals were absolutely perfect and gave off a deep, rich, honeyed scent. “Cessy, it’s beautiful! Do you know who gave it to you?
“It’s one of Lady Mallkyn’s prize roses, the ones she keeps in her private garden that no one is allowed to touch.”
“Did she send it to you then?”
“Oh no, of course not. It was—one of her friends. I…did a special service for her.”
“Ah, I see. I gift of gratitude.”
She smiled, thinking that, yes, it was something like that.