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Musings of a Motley Meddler: G— St. V—, Part 3

England 1814

Dear Interested Parties,

Today’s topic: The Betrothal of G— St . V—, the Future M— of S—, Part 3

In my last post, I recounted the gist of an incriminatory, private conversation between G—St. V— and his (hopefully) soon-to-be-betrothed, Miss Do—a W—e, as overheard via that most ancient and beloved of all past times: Eavesdropping.

Now, I must admit I found the implications of their entire conversation to be delightfully delicious, unlike my colleagues, yet as expressed previously, such a compromising conversation was utterly inconvenient for my plans as I desired them to unfold. As such, I thought I’d have my hands full redirecting my contemporaries away from such delectable gossip…seeing as they, regrettably, also overheard the aforementioned conversation.

Alas, I should have had more faith, dear friends, in my pick for Lord St. V—‘s future bride, for she handled the potential architects of her downfall with absolute grace and aplomb.

Or, at least, quite a bit of pluck.

Shall I recount the events as they unfolded?

But of course.

First, let me set the scene:

I interrupted the decadently delightful conversation by bursting through the library door with overabundant flourish (my forte, you know), my contemporaries right on my heels. St. V— was rather unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on who you ask—disheveled: his jacket dusty, his collar droopy, his cravat loose…y (I had to). Miss W— was not much better, but then her appearance appeared in such a sorry state as a general rule.

Both were seated on a red, velvet settee, entertaining a rock of all things.

And both stood with alacrity upon my glorious entry, Miss W— stating the obvious (or not so obvious, depending): “It’s not what you think.”

Of course, it wasn’t.

Regrettably.

To the women on my heels, I added, “Well, it’s clear there’s nothing to see here.”

The rest occurred as follows:

Lady Str—n, sputteringly: “Nothing to see here! I think we can all agree there is quite a lot to see here. Besides, I know what I heard.”

Lady Led—r, enquiringly, “I expect you are prepared to do the gentlemanly thing, St. V?”

It should be noted: St. V— was not the least bit ruffled by her pointed question, yet before he could speak…

Miss W—, challenging…ly: “Of course, we’re not going to marry. We’ve done nothing wrong.”

Lady Led—r, accusingly: “We all heard you.”

Miss W—, arguably: “Did you now? And what, precisely, did you hear?”

Lady Led—r, blushing…ly: “A lady does not speak of such things. Besides, you know what you said…”

Miss W—, confidently: “Indeed. I do know. I was looking at Lord St. V—’s engraved rock, offering him a translation of its markings. What did you think I was doing?”

Lady Led—r, dismissively (and with a very unladylike snort): “That still doesn’t explain the state of your clothes.”

Miss W—, defiantly: “I rather don’t know what you mean Lady Led—r. Besides, I am thirty years of age…”

St. V—, idiotically: “You’re thirty?”

Miss W—, pointedly: “Do you have a problem with that?”

St. V—, fortunately: “No…”

Miss W—, self-assuredly: “As I was saying, I am thirty years of age: far too old to be forced into marriage for the sake of my nonexistent reputation. Especially given we’ve done nothing wrong.”

Lady Led—r and Lady Str—n, jealously: “Harrumph…” 

Me, happily: “Ahem. You see? Nothing to see here at all. Now, I suggest you all run along before you miss the morning’s events. I’m sure my nephew has many activities planned for his guest to enjoy. You won’t want to miss a thing, I assure you.”

Miss W—, relieved…ly: “Thank God that’s over.” (Once everyone had left, of course.)

See? Perfect for G— St. V—, isn’t she?

Soon, dear readers, soon…

*Hums the wedding march*

Lady Harriett Ross
Bloomfield Place
Bath, England

I’m just an old woman with opinions. On everything.

A chance resemblance leads Society astray

EDITOR’S NOTE: DON’T PUBLISH WITHOUT REPLACING REAL NAMES WITH INITIALS. (Sam, it turned out not to be the scandal we thought, but you might be able to make something from my notes.)

Is the Baron marrying the Marquis’s mistress?

Date: 20 July 1810

Just last month, this paper reported on the scandalous behaviour of two of the ton’s most outrageous rakes. Lord Overton comes to Town for a mere three weeks per year, but his shocking exploits with the Merry Marquis during that time have given him a well deserved reputation almost equal to that of the master-rake himself.

We did not expect to see Lord O again in 1810, and can still barely believe the report we have received about the reason for his untimely return to the pleasures of the capital.

Is Lord O courting the Rose of Frampton, that glorious barque of frailty in the keeping of his dearest friend?

We cannot confirm the report, dear readers, as the Marquis has never flaunted his belle amie around town, preferring to keep her to himself. Only his closest friends have been allowed to meet the Rose, and they are almost as close lipped as the man himself, saying only that she is stunningly beautiful and devoted to the Marquis.

And yet, the lady seen at Gunthers with Lord O and a young child meets the description of the Rose in almost every particular.

Is Lord O courting the Rose of Frampton? And will this lead to a falling out between the friends?

Date: 27 July 1810

Sources in the household of the Duke of Haverford claim that Lord O and his mysterious lady were wed today in the chapel at Haverford House. The Duchess of Haverford and the Marquis of Aldridge witnessed the vows.

Dear readers, we have been assured by that the blushing bride is the same woman featured in a painting that hangs above the infamous bed of the Merry Marquis in the heir’s wing of Haverford House, scene of many a flagrant breach of decency and morals.

Date: 30 July 1810

Lord and Lady Overton were at dinner on Saturday night at the home of the Earl of Chirbury, cousin to the Merry Marquis, and on Sunday attended morning services at St George’s, where they were presented to His Grace the Duke of Haverford.

Dear readers, we had begun to conclude that Lady O’s resemblance to Lord Aldridge’s mistress was a mere coincidence when our speculations were confirmed beyond doubt. Lord A was seen out walking with the Rose of Frampton while Lord and Lady O were elsewhere in London, attending a musicale.

Yes, dear readers. The new Lady O is not the Rose of Frampton, and this newspaper apologises for any distress we may have caused by reporting the unfounded suspicions of gossipmongers and disgruntled servants.

Date: 1 August 1810

Dear readers, having been in Hyde Park at the time of the sad occasion that is the only story on everyone’s lips, we can confirm the astounding resemblance between the Rose of Frampton and Society’s newest ornament, the beautiful and gracious Lady Overton.

Yes, dear readers, the Marquis’s paramour was very like his best friend’s new wife, for we saw them both together when Lord A and the Rose rode past the Overton’s carriage.

Moments later, tragedy struck. Shall we ever know what spooked the Rose’s horse? And does it matter? It bolted, and the poor woman was thrown, dying later at Haverford House.

Date: October 1810

The Teatime Tattler is pleased distressed to confirm that Lord Aldridge, the Merry Marquis, is once again on the prowl. He still wears a black armband in mourning for his lost mistress (and in contravention of all social norms), but is once again savouring the delectable delights of the demimonde, as represented at the the Duke of Richport’s famous yearly masquerade.

Was she? Or wasn’t she? Who was the imposter? To find out more, read A Baron for Becky. (First chapter and buy links on Jude Knight’s website, at the link.)

Becky is the envy of the courtesans of the demi-monde – the indulged Rose of Frampton, mistress of the wealthy and charismatic Marquis of Aldridge. But she dreams of a normal life; one in which her daughter can have a future that does not depend on beauty, sex, and the whims of a man.

Finding herself with child, she hesitates to tell Aldridge. Will he cast her off, send her away, or keep her and condemn another child to this uncertain shadow world?

The devil-may-care face Hugh Overton shows to the world hides a desperate sorrow; a sorrow he tries to drown with drink and riotous living. His years at war haunt him, but even more, he doesn’t want to think about the illness that robbed him of the ability to father a son. When he dies, his barony will die with him. His title will fall into abeyance, and his estate will be scooped up by the Crown.

When Aldridge surprises them both with a daring proposition, they do not expect love to be part of the bargain.

A Pirate, A Lady, and A Lord – Part Four

Captain Pershore had his chef prepare a feast fit for a princess of the sea. Once everything was made to his high standards, he bid the man carry it to his cabin and follow him inside.

The lovely Lady Annamarie stood the moment he unlocked the door and swung it open. Behind the swirl of her skirts, he spied a few items. A smirk teased the corners of his lips. Did she plan on escaping? On attacking him?

No matter. Such a venture would be ill conceived. More importantly, any attempt would fail.

Such a concern did not bother him. Lady Annamarie would enjoy this night and be grateful for his company.

Without a word, the chef laid out the spread upon the table. Three kinds of fish, the freshest breads they had, some vegetables, even a few desserts. And ale.

“Fetch a jug of water too,” he demanded.

The chef nodded, left, and returned with the jug a few minutes later before departing once more.

The captain shut the door. “Won’t you please sit?” he asked kindly.

***

What devilry was this? The lunatic of a captain was actually behaving nicely.

Perhaps she should obey. The last thing she wished to do was riley up his anger and wrath.

She crossed over to the table but hesitated, holding onto the high-backed chair instead of sitting.

“I wish to know the name of the man who… who wished to share a meal with me,” she said as calmly as she could.

Her knees quivered with fear, anger, and frustration. A compass, a candlestick holder, and a few other items were all she had collected. Not one of them would be able to help her escape. She had been a fool to think she could save herself while at sea. At port remained her only chance.

And if he saw her gathered items, and his anger sparked, what then? What might he do to her?

“My lady Annamarie, forgive me for not saying so previously. I am Captain… I am Lord Pershore.”

Her eyes widened. He had mentioned that their mothers had been friends, and he had the right of it.

“I last saw you when I was…”

“Five. You were beautiful even then.” He reached toward her as if to touch her cheek but instead moved about the table to her side. The captain pulled out her seat. “Please, won’t you join me for supper?”

“I am hungry,” she admitted, hating herself for her weakness.

“You must keep up your strength. It will be a long until we reach port.”

“When? Where?” she asked, hoping her eagerness would not be noticed.

But his eyes gleamed with understanding. “Come now. It has been over a dozen years since last I saw you. Let us catch up first. Do tell me all about yourself.”

She sighed as he went about filling her plate. Perhaps if she played nicely, he would give her some information.

But the moment he sat across from her, that wicked gleam in his eyes told her all she needed to know.

He would never allow her to leave his side.

***

“How can it be that we have no bearing on their position?” Barnet grumbled.

Larry “Landlubber” Lancaster grimaced and let out a deep laugh. “You be actin’ like you won’t ever be seein’ your lass again. Relax. We be findin’ her. You be savin’ her. I be killin’ Pershore. All will be well.”

“When?” Barnet demanded.

“Soon enough. I’ll be sending out signals with my lantern tonight. If any of the nearby ships know of Pershore’s destination, where he be headin’, we will soon know.”

Barnet nodded. He cursed the sun for her brightness for he felt no happiness. He cursed her light for it meant no signals. He cursed himself for his inability to locate Annamarie himself.

Most of all, he cursed himself for having never worked up the courage to tell her that he loved her.

Annamarie, don’t be afraid. I’ll save you somehow. I will ask your father permission to court you. No. Rather, I will ask you first. You deserve to have some control over your life given that that despicable, vile, repugnant pirate has kidnapped you against your will.

Please, Annamarie. Wait for me. Trust in me.

But in his heart, he knew she could not. She did not know how he felt nor did she know that he was coming for her.

“Soon,” he murmured with all the hope in his being. “I will be with you soon.”

To be continued…

Read Part One here, Part Two here, and Part Three here.

Taken from the notes of one Lady Anna Wycliff

Lady Anna is the heroine in Christmas Kisses, which had been a part of the Bluestocking Belles’ boxed set Holly and Hopeful Hearts and now contains a bonus end scene.

Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter, wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. She suffered through trials to find love herself.

Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke. Her mother insists on Anna befriending a marquess’s son, a man Anna finds far too rude. Can either man be the right one for Anna?

Buy CHRISTMAS KISSES here!

 

The Willing Widow’s Club

Mrs. Cassandra Vaughn lounged comfortably in an overstuffed chair within her salon. Her friend, Mrs. Patience Moore, was in the process of pouring them both a cup of tea. If someone had told her four years ago she would have two women living under her roof who had fallen on hard times, she would have laughed. Lucky for her, the Earl of Drayton knew how to settle his accounts. When they had ended their association, he had gifted her with a substantial amount; a vast sum that allowed her the luxury of not having to take another lover in order to keep herself in the manner to which she had become accustomed. The divine man… too bad he was now so happily married.

“However shall we tell her?” Patience chewed on her lower lip before she realized what she was doing. She poured another serving of tea. “The poor dear will be devastated.”

How indeed? Cassandra pondered accepting the china cup from Patience. “I will handle the situation as delicately as possible. If I can survive having my name splattered across that rag of a newspaper, then she shall survive too.”

A snort came from Patience. “If you had had better sense all those years ago, you would have never been following Lord Drayton in the park in the first place. I ruined a good pair of shoes scampering to keep up with you.”

“Leave it be, Patience,” Cassandra warned whilst images of Neville carrying Lady Gwendolyn Sandhurst flashed through her mind. Odd how all these years later the scene still hurt. But this… her eyes went to the open paper on a nearby table. Such news would be devastating to anyone. It was one thing to be labeled mistress. It was entirely another to be labeled a woman of the streets as the article all but implied.

Any further thoughts on how to explain the unfortunate incident plaguing her this morning came to an abrupt end with the sound of a soft knock upon the door. With the call to enter, the door squeaked open on its hinges.

Mrs. Moriah Hernshaw entered the room clutching a shawl around her morning gown. Her eyes were red-rimmed giving testament to her lack of sleep. A shaky hand ran up to her dark black hair in an attempt to tame the unruly tresses. She failed.

“Come sit with us,” Cassandra prompted pointing to the vacant chair.

“You are too kind, Mrs. Vaughn. How will I ever repay your generosity at taking a total stranger into your home?” Moriah asked as she all but fell into her seat.

“You may start by calling me Cassandra,” she answered holding up her hand to put an end to any argument on the subject. “Since you shall be staying with me for an undetermined amount of time, I must insist.”

“Very well,” Moriah replied.

“I just know we shall become the best of friends,” Patience declared holding out another cup of tea. Cassandra peered at the woman who looked as though there was nothing wrong and this was just a friendly tea party.

The silence stretched between the women for several minutes as they became lost in their own thoughts and drank their tea. Moriah began to fidget in her seat as though she was uncomfortable sitting down. It dawned on Cassandra that the woman may be concealing injuries she dared not tell her when she showed up on her doorstep in broad daylight.

“It is none of my business what that brute did to you but I do worry he caused you more pain than you are letting on,” Cassandra prompted.

Moriah paled, turning as white as the china cup that rattled in the saucer she held. She set the cup down on the table. “I will mend.”

“You must be more selective in the future about whom you take to your bed, my dear. I know you have fallen on hard times, but I was most concerned for your well-being when Lord Drayton discreetly asked if I would take you in. Are you perhaps friends with his wife,” Cassandra asked taking hold of the woman’s hand.

“I believe his wife is acquainted with my dear friend, Lady Grace Lacey.”

“I see,” Cassandra replied.

“Is it not a small world,” Patience said brightly.

Cassandra rolled her eyes giving Patience a look to remain silent. The woman was so trying at times.

“I do not want you to think less of me, Cassandra, but the gentleman in question forced himself upon me. He did not like my refusal when I told him I would not take him as my lover,” Moriah continued on.

“The swine,” Cassandra hissed. “That would explain much I fear.”

“I do not understand. Has something happened?” Moriah inquired. Her brow furrowed with worry.

Cassandra rose and went to pick up the latest edition of the Teatime Tattler. “The good news is that the article is buried on the fifth page. The bad news is this bit of gossip will spread throughout the ton by mid-day.

Moriah took the paper and began to read aloud.

This just in…

A certain Mrs. M.H. has recently been spotted having a bit of sport in nearby Hyde park, if the leaves stuck in her hair and dress are any indication as to how she spent the afternoon. She was also seen sneaking into the house of Mrs. C.V. and we all know this woman’s reputation, despite the fact no one has noticed her becoming any man’s mistress recently. Perhaps the two women have now become partners in their quest to find wealthy benefactors or will head to the cheaper side of town and take a shilling or two for payment for their wares. Curious minds want to know what will become of these willing widows.

Moriah gasped. “I am ruined.”

“I have no doubt your gentleman friend, and I use that term loosely, gave them such rubbish to print.” Cassandra took the paper from Moriah’s hands and tossed it aside. “But we shall survive such drivel.”

“I will never be able to hold my head up and face Society. And Grace,” she cried out. “What will she think of me when she see’s the latest edition?”

Cassandra went over to the sideboard and poured a draught of sherry. She handed the drink to Moriah. “If she is your friend, she all ready knows this is but a bunch of lies. You have nothing to be ashamed of. The lady will understand.”

“I hope so. I would hate to lose her friendship over something I had no control over,” Moriah replied downing the drink in two gulps.

Patience came over to give Moriah a hug. “We could look at the bright side of this,” she declared with a laugh.

Cassandra scowled. “I hardly find this situation humorous, Patience.”

“Can you not see it now, Cassie,” Patience purred. “Why they will be saying we belong to the Willing Widow’s Club. Why gentlemen will be lining up at your door just to get a look at us!”

Cassandra and Moriah both stared at the woman as though she had lost her mind. Moments later the three women broke out into laughter.

“Well, I suppose they cannot think any worse of us than how the article portrayed us,” Moriah chuckled.

“We might as well give them something more to talk about. Let’s go shopping,” Cassandra said. “Any bad situation I have ever been involved in always looks better after I’ve bought a new bonnet.

Laughter echoed in the air as the three women went to ready themselves.


This is an original piece with secondary characters from two of Sherry Ewing’s stories. Cassandra Vaughn can be found in Sherry’s new Regency series, Nothing But Time: A Family of Worth, Book One. Moriah Hernshaw can be found in A Kiss For Charity which first appeared in the Bluestocking Belles’ 2016 box set, Holly and Hopeful Hearts and is now available for individual sale.

Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical and time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. You can find all of Sherry’s books on the tab above or on her website at www.SherryEwing.com.

Vauxhall Vixens: A Sneak Peak at Peter and Alice’s story

Peter de Luca, violinist, had been employed at the Royal Vauxhall Gardens for nearly a week before he caught sight of the lady gardener. She was tall, her dark hair caught up in a white cap, and wore a brown apron over her dark gray skirt. He had seen few females at Vauxhall in the afternoons before the gates opened, and this one stood out from the rest because she seemed to have authority over the other gardeners. He saw her unrolling a sketch and giving instructions to two young men who listened respectfully and showed no signs of resentment at being ruled by a woman. She wasn’t simply a supervisor, however, as he later saw her viciously attack a shrub with a shovel and her own considerable strength.

“A strong one, for a filly,” said a voice behind him.

Peter wheeled around to find himself facing a short, rather stout gray-bearded man with friendly brown eyes and an approving smile.

“Nathaniel Stephens,” he said, extending his hand. “I have the honor of being head gardener here. Miss Crocker there is my assistant.”

Peter shook his hand and nodded. “She is at that,” he agreed. “Miss Crocker. She’s not married, then,” he observed.

Mr. Stephens cocked his head and gave Peter a speculative look. “Calls herself a spinster. Lives with her grandfather. Wouldn’t take no guff from any man, not my Alice.”

Peter raised an eyebrow. “I’m quite sure no man would dare to.” Her name is Alice.

The older man chuckled. “Don’t get me wrong. Alice is a lovely, sweet-tempered young woman. Would make some lucky man an excellent wife,” he added, with a side-long glance at Peter. “But I told her when I hired her that she’d have to be iron-fisted from the start. Demand respect and all that. Men don’t usually like taking orders from a woman, but they come to respect her. Gal’s real talent is design. She could go far if she were a man.” He rubbed his chin. “Might do it even so,” he added.

Peter nodded and was about to respond when he heard the first notes of instruments being tuned. “Peter de Luca,” he said, by way of introduction. “Violinist. Rehearsal time, so I must go. Honored to meet you, Mr. Stephens.”

“Nathaniel.”

The old man had a twinkle in his eye, and Peter suspected he had matchmaking on his mind. Too bad, because Peter could not consider marriage… at least not until he’d cleared his name.

***

Alice found her feet tapping in time to the music of the orchestra rehearsal while she inspected the site for the new illumination, which would honor the new Duke of Wellington after his victory over Bonaparte at the Battle of Paris. If only the designer had included the measurements! It was difficult to decide how to arrange the plantings without some inkling of the space requirements. With luck, the fellow himself would arrive soon, since the spectacle was planned to open the next day.

Miss Catherine Stephens, Vauxhall soprano

Miss Stephens must be singing tonight, she thought as she found herself humming the tune of the popular Northumberland ballad about a brave lass who rowed out in a storm to save her shipwrecked sailor beau.

O! merry row, O! merry row the bonnie, bonnie bark, 

Bring back my love to calm my woe, 

Before the night grows dark. 

She liked the idea of a woman rescuing her man instead of the other way around. It might seem romantic to be rescued by a handsome prince, but one could not always be a damsel in distress, could one?  Alice knew from her mother’s marriage that there was no happiness or romance in a marriage where one partner held all the power. She herself had no intention of placing herself in the power of any man. She would be responsible to no one but herself… and perhaps her employer, as long as she was permitted to work for a living. A pinched expression came over her face. She could work as well as any man, better than some, in fact. Why did so many men feel threatened by that?

Tucking the rolled-up plans under her arm, she made her way down the covered walk toward the Orchestra building to check on the new flowerbeds, unconsciously swinging her head to the music.

A storm arose the waves ran high, the waves ran high, the waves ran high,

And dark and murky was the sky, the wind did loudly roar,

But merry row’d, O! merry row’d the bonnie, bonnie bark,

O! merry row’d the bonnie, bonnie bark

And brought her love on shore.

When the music stopped, she smiled her appreciation to the musicians, most of whom she knew by sight. There was a new violinist, though—one whose dark good looks even she could not ignore—and he was staring right at her!

I must look a mess, she thought, her hand moving involuntarily to her hair. The band struck up another tune and she came to her senses.

Don’t be a nitwit, Alice! You’re a gardener and gardeners get dirt on them. 

Why did she care what a musician thought of her? In any case, it was rude to stare, and staring back could be mistaken for an invitation for dalliance. She’d learned to take care not to show too much friendliness to any of the men, and even then it was tricky.

She took a turn to the left and nearly barreled into her supervisor, who was arranging potted plants in eating-area.

“Whoa! Best watch where you’re a-goin’, Miss Alice. Were you dreamin’ of an admirer? Or perhaps it was that new violinist, Mr. de Luca. Showed some interest in ‘the lady gardener,’ he did.”

He did? 

Alice felt heat creeping across her cheeks. Not for the first time, she lamented her inability to control her blushes. The last thing she wanted was to encourage Mr. Stephens in his matchmaking. A happily-married man himself, he had a tendency to wish the married state on those around him as well.

“A new violinist? I had not noticed,” she lied.

Mr. Stephens chuckled.

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