“Thank you, Mrs Watson.” Daisy opened the door to her florist shop and stood aside to let the older woman out. “Enjoy those flowers.” Mrs Watson’s scowl diminished slightly at the words but she still humpffed as she walked out the door.
Daisy leaned on the door jamb, a hand over her swollen belly. “I really don’t know why that woman buys flowers” she murmured to herself. Under her hand she felt a kick. “Yes, Little One, I’m glad she’s gone too.” Sheila Watson was the recently retired teacher from the village school and had, in fact, taught Daisy when she’d attended. Sheila had seemed old when Daisy was a student and many thought she would be teaching for ever. A good teacher, Mrs Watson nevertheless had a severe countenance and brooked no misdemeanours or misbehaviour of any kind, leaving many a child in fear and awe of encountering her steely glare. Daisy could never remember seeing Mrs Watson smile.As Daisy watched Mrs Watson’s progress along the snowy street she saw Colin and Stevie stop their game as they spied Mrs Watson coming and stood almost to attention, chorusing together “Good Morning, Mrs Watson” as they’d done numerous times in her classes. “Good morning boys” the ex-teacher replied, nodding sternly at them as she strode by. Daisy laughed and walked out into the street, turning to look back at her little empire; the village florists named “Daisy A Day”. Not a name she’d chosen, but the legacy left by her mother and grandmother, both florists before her and a family heritage just like her name.
Daisy’s great-great-grandfather, Sir Isaac Redson, had been a botanist of some distinction traveling the world as a young man, discovering new plants and writing copious books on flora and his travels. His exploits added fame and wealth to already healthy family coffers. Once married, Sir Isaac timed the arrivals and departures of his trips to greet a new child and leave with another one on the way. Daisy thought his wife, Lady Winsome, a stoic soul and marvelled that she had managed to bear six children, bringing them up with a virtually absentee father, but relying on a wonderful staff at The Manor.
Sir Isaac had been enamoured with his clan which had increased steadily over the years. In his old age he had become somewhat eccentric and his Last Will and Testament had stated that any direct descendant who named their child using a botanical reference would receive a substantial sum. With his vast wealth and conservative management by succeeding generations of Trustees the “substantial sum” had remained substantial to this day.
This meant Daisy was surrounded by relatives bearing floral overtones; her grandmother had been Primrose, her mother Lily and she had aunts, Myrtle, Petunia and Daphne among others, and cousins Pansy, Rose and Poppy to name but a few. As one of the younger cousins she was constantly hearing women eagerly talking about baby names for impending additions so they could share in Sir Isaac’s largesse. Even as a child she found their money-hungry demeanours distasteful.
At school Daisy avoided most of her cousins, not wanting to be associated with “The Flower Club” as they were known and all the teasing that the family names received, and struck up friendships with a Helen, an Emily and a Liz. Daisy was just grateful that her parents hadn’t named her Heliotrope.
Someone who felt the same was her cousin Willow, who aptly lived up to her name; tall, slender, graceful and beautiful, and the two girls were as close as sisters.
There had always been a surplus of girl babies in Sir Isaac’s family line, but now Daisy’s cousins were starting to have babies and many of them were boys. These cousins were now scambling to find “male” botanical names and there was fierce competition and naming rights staked.
Willow and Daisy suffered through the all too regular baby showers, astonished at the choices their cousins made for their impending offspring and trying not to look at each other and control their laughter. Ash, Rowan, and Lief were alright, but Zel short for Zelkova, or Cord, short for Cordyline were stretching the point too far they thought.
It made Willow declare that she would never marry and certainly not have any children. Daisy’s fate was chosen for her when a tall, handsome young man from a nearby village asked her to dance at a village ball. To her delight his name was Zac and he didn’t laugh at her name, like so many of the local lads did. The pair fell in love and married within a year. Now, several years later Daisy was pregnant. Zac had wanted to name the new little being. “We can’t keep calling it, It,” he complained, “so how about Bean.” Daisy was horrified, “Zac! Bean! Botanical!” was all she had to say, so they’d settled on Little One.
Daisy stopped her reverie as Little One gave another kick, and she walked back into her shop, ready to work on the day’s orders. It was ironic that Daisy had chosen to work at the florist given her aversion to flower names, but she’d always called in after school waiting for her mother to finish her day before they headed home. Initially Daisy sat in the corner and read a book or drew and coloured pictures, but she was soon feeling the call of the flowers; their myriad colours, the variety in their shapes and sizes, the fragility of petals, the strength of stems, and the number of differently shaped leaves. Daisy’s mother was only too keen to show her daughter how to present vases, bouquets, baskets and boxes, and Daisy’s love and pleasure at working with flowers garnered her a reputation for innovative workmanship. Most of all she enjoyed the pleasure and delight that the giving and receiving of flowers engendered.The shop door opened and Fern, another of Daisy’s cousins walked in admiring the blooms. “Not long to go now, Daisy” Fern looked pointedly at Daisy’s belly. “Decided on a name yet?”
“Actually Zac and I have; one for a boy and one for a girl, depending on what we have.”
“And….?” But Daisy shook her head. She and Zac weren’t sharing their decision with anyone, mostly because of the censure that would surely befall them; their names weren’t botanical. Daisy had decided she didn’t want to be a part of the family that grasped for money based on a child’s name and Zac had agreed, even though the cash would have helped his building business. Not that business was bad, it would just have provided a buffer while Daisy took time off from the shop.
“Ah, keeping the names close, then” Fern decided. “Any news on who’s going to help out while you’re at home with the baby?” This question Daisy could answer.
“Yes, a girl from the next village is starting next week.”
“Good, I’ll call in then to say hello.” Fern bought a bunch of assorted flowers and after a little family gossip, left Daisy to contemplate her new co-worker.
Daisy was delighted to find out that the candidate most suited to the job was named Jazz. “A musical name,” she thought to herself with relief, and she gave Jazz a week’s trial at which the young lady excelled and was promptly employed. It was only when Daisy was checking over the employment forms at home that evening that she saw Jazz’s full name; Jasmine. All Zac could do was laugh and soon Daisy was joining him. Her aversion had to be put aside as Jazz proved she was every bit as creative as Daisy and her business would not suffer while she was at home.
Her next customer was her cousin Zinnia and her husband (another cousin) Branch who was wheeling a pram. Zinnia had recently given birth to twins, so twice the payment, naming her babies Elm and Saffron. Zinnia gleefully brandished a cheque under Daisy’s nose. “We’ve just come from the solicitors,” Zinnia stated unnecessarily. “Going to buy all the flowers in my shop?” asked Daisy. “Not quite, but Branch wants to shower me with roses for producing a boy and girl at the same time,” preened Zinnia. Branch stood beaming at his wife and offspring and Daisy thought uncharitably that he was as thick as his name.
Each family, after a child had been born, had to present themselves to the family law firm, Sylvester and Sylvester. The firm issued an official summons for a meeting where the parents had to state the newborn’s name before walking out with a cheque from the family trust.
Daisy quickly gathered up the roses as Zinnia pointed to the ones she wanted, arranged, tied and wrapped them. Branch handed over the requested sum, still with that silly grin, and the family left, Zinnia waving the cheque again as they walked out the door.
“Well,” thought Daisy, “there won’t be one of those for us”.
Two months later
Zac walked in the door from work, taking Daisy around the waist and kissing her before turning to his daughter, picking her up and planting a gentle kiss on her forehead. “And how is my Little One today?” he murmured, totally besotted and marvelling yet again at this perfect being. Out of the corner of his eye Zac noticed a piece of paper in Daisy’s hand and gave her a questioning look.
“Our summons has arrived,” said Daisy in reply, “our appointment is 10.00am Thursday.” Zac did a quick mental calculation of the jobs scheduled for that day. “Yep, can do. Are you ready for this?” he added with a grin.
At 10.00am on Thursday morning, Zac, Daisy and Little One were ushered into Mr Sylvester’s office. No introductions were necessary, so it was straight down to business.
“Now then Daisy,” started Mr Sylvester, “what name have you and Zac chosen for your daughter?”
Daisy squared her shoulders, took a deep breath and a quick glance at Zac. “Our daughter is named Essie.”
Mr Sylvester, ever professional, showed no sign that he was taken aback by this “non-standard” Sir Isaac clan name. “Delightful, delightful,” he replied as he gazed at Essie, “it suits her admirably. Now if you’d just like to wait here, I’ll arrange your cheque.”
“But Mr Sylvester, our daughter’s name is not botanical,” Daisy needed to make sure Mr Sylvester understood that she was breaking with family tradition.
“Yes, my dear, I’m well aware of that, but what you are not aware of is there is a codicil to Sir Isaac’s Will that was to remain confidential until the appropriate juncture.” Daisy stared at him. What was the solicitor talking about?
“Daisy, Sir Isaac’s codicil states that a sum of double the usual amount is to be paid to the 100th child born into the family. And Essie is child 100.”
(© Pomegranate and Chintz 2017)