Goody Applegate is an elderly lady who, at one time in the heroine's youth, was her guardian. She lives in a quiet, out-of-the-way cottage, surrounded by fruit trees and a lush garden of vegetables and herbs — all of which she uses to make her splendid wine. The bottles of this magical elixir are kept on a shelf in her long, narrow pantry, each one colorfully labeled with painted images of the ingredients within. Our heroine has fond memories of watching Goody Applegate make her wine. She often thinks of that pantry with the neat row of bottles and their pretty, water-color labels, over which such time was taken and love given.
Goody Applegate and her self-sufficient, hard-working but tranquil lifestyle, is a great inspiration to our heroine as she matures into a woman and finds her own way to happiness.
But when the grown-up Lady Flora seeks to reunite with her guardian, she just cannot seem to find her or even locate the village in which she once lived. Her last memory of Goody Applegate is of the lady, on a foggy day, sending her off into the custody of newly-found, very fine relatives, while whispering encouragement and a warning.
"It is time for another adventure. Now, you must be a proper lady and keep your shoes on. This world to which you go now is very different to the one you knew before, but you will soon find it just as familiar."
She had not realized back then that her new life would turn out quite so remarkable and she yearns to tell her old guardian all about it. But will she ever see Goody Applegate again or is that dear lady lost in the past -- a place that has become increasingly puzzling to her as memories return that seem highly unlikely?
Was Goody Applegate ever there at all, or is she merely a construct of Lady Flora's imagination? Her relatives now deny the woman's existence. Yet the inspiration she gave her protégée remains a strong guiding force in Flora's life, leading her, at last, to find happiness and love.
Image: Girl with a Tray by Philip Mercier (1689-1760)