Whom Colonel Thoroton will marry has been as prolific a topic in the receiving room of every marriageable miss’s mother as it has in the betting books. After all, it’s not everyday that a man comes into possession of an estate as grand as Flintham Hall at only four-and-twenty.
But no purported wager could possibly be more ludicrous than the one rumored to have begun at White’s: Mr. Paling will learn to ride side-saddle before the Colonel becomes engaged.
Whatever shall they think of next?
Mr. Paling would do better if he turned his attention to pursuing females rather than learning to ride like them. Why, it has been years since he has been spotted dancing, in spite of his frequent attendance at Almack’s. A disgrace, if you ask me, his immaculately-tied cravat notwithstanding. And this is the gentleman sent to Nottinghamshire to force Colonel Thoroton out of mourning and into the marriage-mart where he belongs? Let us hope, for all our sakes, that Mr. Paling loses his bet and they both end up engaged before the year’s end.
Teatime Tattler Guest Correspondent
An Engagement of Sorts
Much to her mother’s dismay, spirited Anne Fletcher is more comfortable in breeches than ball gowns. But when she finds herself facing marriage to a man she does not love, Anne grasps at her last vestige of independence, setting in motion a desperate plan. Now all she needs is a man willing to masquerade as her fiancé.
My freedom was short-lived, for though I had been able to stretch my knees and ankles in the carriage, my hips had remained at the same angle for far too long; they were less enthusiastic to be put to sudden use. They buckled, causing me to fall face-first into what had once been a gentleman’s carefully tied black cravat.
A rather ungentlemanly voice released an oath. “Sakes alive, hussy, watch what you are about.” The uncouth man had reacted to my assault by bringing both hands to my shoulders and pushing me back until my chest rested over my own torso rather than on his. “If I had a pound for every woman who threw herself at me, I could make my own fortune.” He unhanded me like I might have lice. I looked upward into the gentleman’s—no, Colonel Thoroton’s—scowl.
His frosty look could have frozen the sun, but it flamed my pride. And unlike last time, the threat of Mother’s censure could not protect him from my wrath. “Firstly, I would never throw myself at a gentleman—obviously in name only—who is incapable of coming to my aid and instead treats me like a flea-bitten cur.” I ticked one gloved finger out at him. “Secondly, if I had thrown myself at you, I would have broken your nose rather than crumpling your oriental, which would have served you right as your nose seems bent out of shape for naught. Thirdly—”
Raucous laughter cut off my diatribe. Mr. Paling stood near, cloaked in his usual persona of gaiety and nonchalance.
In strict contrast, the colonel’s tone grew menacing as he spit out each word. “It was a mathematical, not an oriental.”
“Yes, well.” I tried to re-enact his rude turn of voice; I didn’t care if he was the emperor of China. No one spoke to me like this. “I am a lady, not a hussy. Yours was the greater blunder.”
Meet Alene Wecker
Debut novelist Alene Wecker stumbled into the profession quite by accident; she had only meant to entertain herself during a banal bout of bedrest. But the characters in her head wouldn’t leave her alone until she gave them space on the page. She hopes you will be as entertained by her characters’ antics as she was.
As a mother, voice teacher, and opera singer, she must have a penchant for fun but poorly-paid professions. She likes to pretend that her experience and master’s degree in vocal performance come in handy as she describes debutantes who, like herself, speak several languages and are frequently forced to display their mediocre skills at the pianoforte.