Chapter 4 The English Garden

Years go by, and Valentina embraces life in England, growing roses in her English garden. Millais’ painting is full of coded messages – the Victorian concept of ‘the language of flowers’. Red roses symbolise passion. In Millais’ painting of the lovers standing by the wall the young woman is trying to make her lover wear the white scarf that would protect him from persecution and possibly death, and he, despite his love for her refuses to renounce his faith. Here Canterbury Bells signify faith; and Nasturtiums, patriotism.

A Huguenot by John Everett Millais
A Huguenot by John Everett Millais

Valentina settles in the East Coast of England, she marries and has a family. But she never did forget Raoul.

I work the land here, I rise each morning
I thank the Lord and reap what I have sown.
I left my homeland, but kept my God-fear
I looked up to him when I set off alone.

I’m long since married; I have three daughters,
I love them dearly and we are family
And my garden is full of roses
I give them water and feed them tenderly.

My husband loves me; we work together
And spend the evenings until the fire burns low.
But when my candle is pale and smoky
I think back to you, I never let you go.
Our last embrace by the wall,
You kept your faith, you would not lie
The broken bell signalled your fall,
I never knew if you would live or die

In the darkness we lay down in the heather
One kiss to last forever, before I went to sea.
My eldest daughter, she looks so like you.
But home is here now, what is and what will be.
I made my life here; I rise each morning
I thank the Lord and reap what I have sown
I left my homeland but kept my God-fear
I looked up to Him when I set off alone
I made my life here; I rise each morning
I thank the Lord and reap what I have sown
And in my garden, my English garden
I tend my roses, and water them…alone.

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