This conversation was relayed to us by the person who overheard it firsthand, and just happens to be in our employ. You can be certain that person will keep us all well informed, since we know how much our readers love a scandal.
“I’m so glad you could visit today, Ivy.” Lady Furness took her friend’s hand and lead her from the parlor out into the rose garden of the Furness London home.
“Had I not received your note, I would have been on my way to the country. Honestly I thought I was the only person still in London so late in the summer.”
“No, I’ve been stranded here by my husband.” Julia Holmes, Lady Furness sniffled and dabbed at her dry eyes with a kerchief. “He seems to think that his business with the home office is the only important thing in the world. I’m tempted to ask if I could come with you when you do leave. Just to teach the dratted man a lesson.”
“Now Julia,” Ivy began to sooth her friend. “You are always welcome. . . .” She hurried to keep pace with her friend on the garden’s winding path.
“Yes, yes, I know. But we can discuss giving my husband his comeuppance later. I have the most urgent secrets to tell you.”
Ivy’s brows rose, and her expression took on an avid cast. “Really? Secrets? Do tell.”
Julia cast a quick look about the rose garden. “Not until we get to the table and serve tea. I had tea set up in this garden because it is the most private place I could think of. Absolutely no one must know. Besides you and I, and my cousin Lady Enid MacShennan, who wrote me of this impending disaster.”
With those words they arrived at a gazebo near the far end of the garden.
“You have to tell me, Julia.”
Lady Furness shook her head and gestured to one of the two chairs flanking the tea trolley. “Sit, sit. I’ll serve and then we’ll talk.”
Ivy issued an impatient sigh but sat, tapping her foot while her friend poured the tea.
Finally when all was arranged, Julia took a sip of her beverage then set the cup and saucer back on the trolley.
“Ivy, do you recall my distant relation, Captain Brandon Gilroy?”
“What woman wouldn’t. Honestly Julia, the Captain is not only a highly regarded naval hero, rich from the many prizes he captured during the wars with Napoleon, but he has also been named heir to the Duke of Cowal–his uncle. The Captain is one of the most eligible bachelors in all Britain.”
“Yes, yes. I know all that. I just wanted to be certain you did.”
“Never tell me he’s about to announce his engagement? All the gels coming out next spring will be devastated.”
“No, I can’t tell you that. Although if Enid’s most recent letter is to be believed the engagement was to be announced next month.”
“I gather that is no longer the case?” Ivy leaned in closer to whisper the question.
“According to Enid, everything was set for Captain Gilroy’s betrothal to Lady Miriam MacNaughton.”
“The Duke of Rockerd’s sister? That would unite two very powerful houses.”
“Yes, but Enid wrote that suddenly Captain Gilroy is balking.”
“Really? Miriam is beautiful, rich, well-connected and possessed of an excellent pedigree.”
“I know. However, Enid’s last letter stated that a strange woman arrived in the middle of the betrothal festivities. This female, with the very common name of Crobbin, claims to be the daughter of the current duke’s long, lost daughter, Mary Katherine.”
“The one who ran away from home because she discovered she was in an interesting condition?”
Julia cast her friend a sidewise glance. “That’s only a rumor, and has never been confirmed.”
“Hmmm, I suppose,” said Ivy. “But why else would Cowal have disowned her and forbidden his family to mention her name.”
“Not being privy to his grace’s confidence I could not say. What I can tell you is this upstart imposter has somehow ensnared Captain Gilroy in her net of schemes, and snatched him right out from under Lady Miriam’s nose.”
“Oh yes. Further, Enid wrote that Lady Miriam was so incensed that this Crobbin person had even been permitted into the duke’s home that she, Lady M, was threatening to leave the house if the woman was not removed instantly.”
“Not as of Enid’s last letter to me.”
“Good, they young lady should not let a common trollop steal her fiancé.”
“Well, they had not signed the betrothal agreements. Although Lady Miriam was threatening to sue for breach of promise.”
“You and I both know that’s a ploy to buy time in which to discover how best to rid herself of the Crobbin person.”
“Indeed. Lady Miriam is no fool.”
“But it sounds like Captain Gilroy is a bit of a fool.” Ivy smirked.
“My relation is a man. Any man can be easily led astray by the right bait.”
“Well, you say the Crobbin person is common. That sort would never do as a future duchess unless she’s either wealthy or beautiful or both.”
“As far as Enid can tell this imposter has no fortune to speak of and is not half as beautiful as Lady Miriam. Why Enid’s description of the woman is that she’s skinny, excessively tall, and cursed with freckles as well as carroty orange hair. She does not dress well and her manners are only passable. Whatever can Captain Gilroy see in her?”
“An excellent question, Julia. Hopefully Enid’s next missive will reveal that, and the resolution to the problem before it becomes the scandal of the summer.”
“Do, please Ivy, remember that you are to tell no one.”
“Of course, I would never betray a confidence.”
Coming Soon: The Pirate Duchess – Duchess Series Book 2
She’s a famous pirate determined to rule her own life sailing the high seas. She’ll never be conquered by any man, or so she says. He’s a British naval captain bent on capturing her and seeing her hang for her crimes. When they meet the battle begins, but who conquers whom?
Watch for The Pirate Duchess, Duchess Series Book 2, coming in late 2022.