Home of the Bluestocking Belles

Because history is fun and love is worth working for

My virtue was saved by the language of the fan

The Castle Tavern, where regular events were held, especially card parties
and dancing assemblies. [ digital image owned by the Society of Brighton Print Collectors.]

Parkland House,
Marine Parade,
Brighton, 31st August 1814

Dearest Emily,

Today I shall not be present at Donaldson’s for the teatime meeting. It is a great pity when the weather is so mild and the sea is calm. However, Lady Fording is fatigued and so we must remain quietly at home. She won quite a large sum at cards last night, and continued playing longer than usual, encouraged by her success. I do love her for being such a sprightly old lady. And she is very kind to me, but even so, I cannot tell her anything about the Events of last night, even though it is thanks to her that I had the means to escape a Horrid Fate.

Emily, you swore to me you would keep anything I told you a Secret and so I will set down what happened. It will unburden my mind to share it with you. Let me begin from the moment when that odious Mrs Chetwynd interrupted our little gathering at the Castle Tavern last night. By the by, did you see how low cut her gown was? If she had so much as sneezed…! She took me into the other salon, into an alcove and [I shudder as I write his name] that horrible roué, Sir Bilton Kelly, was there, with his dissipated face and oily manner. Between the pair of them, they thought they had me trapped, so that I would submit to being taken to the Prince Regent’s private party.

My dear Lord Longwood had warned me repeatedly against accepting any such invitation, and indeed, I was very Angry, but could not push my way out of that narrow alcove with Mrs Chetwynd blocking the way. It was most humiliating to see that many people in the room were watching, some more discreetly than others. And, oh, thankfully, at the far end of the room was Lord Longwood. He noted the general silence and turned in my direction. Lady Fording has been instructing me in the language of the fan, and so, even though my hands were shaking [with anger, not fright, you understand], I hastily took mine in my hand, waved it, then snapped it shut, laying a finger on the top of the sticks. That signals ‘I wish to speak with you’, and Lord Longwood understood.

At once, he made his way over toward me. Mrs Chetwynd was angry and tried to distract him, but he ignored her. When Sir Bilton Kelly blustered, he stared at him through his eyeglass in a truly Terrifying manner. Then he offered me his arm and so I made my escape. Once we reached the hallway, my knees began to shake. You know how Lord Longwood’s face goes dark when he scowls, and his black hair falls over his forehead. He assured me he was not angry with me and suggested we should take a turn along the path up towards the Pavilion and back, so I might compose myself.

In his company I soon felt calmer. But then he announced that he would be leaving Brighton today to return to London. That made my heart sink into my boots, for he is always so kind and helpful towards me and, as you have suspected, I do love him with all my heart. On an impulse I begged him to kiss me goodbye. But I asked for a proper kiss. He was shocked and then, his face changed, those wonderful green eyes glowed and he did, indeed kiss me. In those moments, I went to heaven. But now I am Wretched, for I want more of those sensations. Oh, Emily, I depend on you to support me through the next days as I struggle to appear calm. At least, until we can meet for a conversation, I have my copy of Lord Byron’s Corsair, to divert my mind from its sorrows. Truly, Emily, I cannot decide if being in love is a blessing or a curse.

Your friend,

Anna

ABOUT THE BOOK

Giles Maltravers, Earl of Longwood, has his rakish lifestyle turned upside down the day he saves Anna Lawrence from a pair of drunken young bloods.

The irony is that Giles is now honour bound to protect this headstrong girl.

Inspired by a fervent devotion to the works of Lord Byron, Anna is determined to live a life of adventure, but she plunges from one disaster into another. Giles has no time left to enjoy his former pleasures, especially when his jealous mistress sets out to ruin Anna, and the Prince Regent decides that she is just in his style…

Set in Brighton in the summer of 1814, this is a story of a summer holiday that so nearly went disastrously wrong.

The Steyne, with walkers and the Prince Regent on horseback.
Donaldsons Library is on the right

Excerpt

A GIFT FOR ANNA

Anna allowed Giles to hurry her back out to his carriage for the short ride home. Giles took the reins and set off at a trot.

‘I see you’re wondering why Morgan is not accompanying us.’ he began, glancing at her with a half smile.

Anna clasped her hands together tightly. ‘I’m glad of it because I wished for a moment alone with you,’ she shook her head vigorously as he leaned forward to give her a roguish look. She gulped, ‘because I …to apologise for sometimes being troublesome.’

Giles raised his brows. ‘Miss Lawrence, now I am alarmed. You’re not yourself. I thought you spent every waking moment in devising adventures to lead yourself into danger and to give me the maximum amount of anxiety.’

But Anna was too wrought up to respond to his teasing. She was attempting to say a private goodbye to him before Mrs Wychwood claimed him as her husband. She gave an involuntary shudder at the idea. Then she saw that Giles was holding out a neatly wrapped package.

‘Pray accept this,’ he said, ‘with my apologies for taking so long to find it.’ He slowed the horses and pulled up, his eyes gleaming. ‘Do open it,’ he urged, ‘I must see your face when you do.’

‘For me?’ Anna hesitated. He nodded and pressed the package into her hands. She unwrapped the brown paper covering and stared wide-eyed at the slim, leather bound copy of The Corsair. ‘Oh…!’ She clutched it to her bosom as she raised her face to his. ‘Oh, sir…’

He smiled again. ‘My infant, it’s not often you’re so lost for words.’ His face softened, ‘but your expression speaks for you.’

Anna looked from the treasure in her hands to her dearest friend, so soon to be only her former friend. ‘Th-thank you,’ she said and burst into tears.

At once he pulled out a snowy handkerchief. ‘I was prepared for that,’ he remarked to no one in particular and mopped her eyes. Anna could smell his spicy cologne and she sniffed deeply at the well loved scent, even as she wept bitterly.

‘Come now, that’s enough,’ he told her, ‘I don’t wish you to appear with red eyes at the tea party.’

She sniffed. ‘It was so unexpected – and you don’t like Lord Byron.’

‘But you do.’ He looked closely at her. ‘Are you alright now?’

‘I’m sorry. Perhaps I’m not quite myself yet.’ She glanced at the precious book. Was it proper for her to accept it? But how could she refuse. He was her dearest friend and this was a fitting token to remember him by.

‘Well,’ he said, as he set the blacks trotting again, ‘I hope I did the right thing in giving it to you today. Now I worry that you’ll begin reading it at once and then we shall wait in vain for you this afternoon.’

‘Of course not,’ she protested, ‘but tonight I’ll read for as long as my candle lasts.’

If you enjoyed this snippet, you can buy the full story here  https://tinyurl.com/y9ngy558

The Royal Pavilion

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The product of an Anglo-Welsh marriage, Beth enjoyed shuttling between the two countries and languages as a child. As she couldn’t sing like her Welsh relatives, she took to writing. The hills of wild Wales, the Lancashire plain, the grey north Atlantic coast, these were the first scenes in the stories she made up but soon her journeys became more adventurous. Perhaps that’s why her characters travel a lot. From the day she first met the Bennet sisters in Pride and Prejudice, Beth has been a devotee of Jane Austen. It’s always a pleasure for her to create stories set in that period. For more information about Beth and her books, see

https://elliottbeth.wixsite.com/regency-tales

She is on Facebook as Beth Elliott and on Twitter as @BethElliott

 

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3 Comments

  1. Sounds a wonderful story! Thanks for being our guest!
    xx
    Lizzi Tremayne

  2. I love the whole idea of the Teatime Tattler. It’s a marvellous idea to write something extra about a story via the characters [or a curious bystander].
    Thank you for airing my piece.
    Beth

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