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Frederick & Fiona: Fiona

by Susana Ellis

Fiona Hendrickson woke up begrudgingly as the chamber flooded with bright sunlight from the windows. Shielding her eyes with her hand, she could make out the pudgy figure of her grandfather’s housekeeper in the blinding light.

“What?” Then, “Oh,” after her wits returned to her. Grandfather’s house. The long trip from Yorkshire by stage coach. The prospect of a long, lonely future in the country with only her cantankerous old grandfather for company. Now why had she agreed to this? Oh yes, the farm.

“If ye’d like to break yer fast afore church, ye’d best go down right quick. T’ master’s ‘ad ‘is and it’s no doubt cold by now.” She cocked her head and studied Fiona doubtfully. “Ye kin dress yerself, eh? No maids in this ‘ouse.”

Fiona rolled her eyes, something her stepmother would never have approved of. The thought of her stepmother made her chest ache. Would they ever see one another again?

“I’ve no need of a maid.” Not only had she never needed a maid, but she and her stepmother had never had a servant of any kind. A housekeeper was a luxury beyond reckoning.

“I’m not hungry.” Not true. She was starving after a day on a rattling stagecoach. But the prospect of getting out of bed and facing the reality of her new circumstances gave her a feeling of panic.

The housekeeper (what was her name?) shrugged. “Matters naught to me, miss. But t’ master expects ye t’ be fixed t’ leave by eight. It’s a good two miles, ye know. Likes t’ be on time, ‘e does.”

Fiona took a deep breath and threw aside the bed coverings. It was no good whining. She hadn’t been a child for several years. Grown women left home every day, usually to marry or to start a life on their own, for better or worse, but at some point they had to move on.

“I suppose I’ll have a bite to eat after all. I’ll be down shortly, er Mrs.—“

“Perry, miss.”

Perry. Ah yes, that was it. “Thank you, Mrs. Perry.”

Was that a shadow of a smile on the older woman’s lips as she turned and left the room? Fiona chose to think so, and set her mind to more positive thoughts. It was a beautiful day. She had a grandfather to get to know; perhaps in time they could learn to get on with each other. As far as learning how to manage a farm, well, that seemed unlikely. The city girl in her knew where her food came from, but she wasn’t keen on making its acquaintance when it had eyes to look upon her.

****

“You’ll want to wed a fine, sturdy gent, lass. As soon as may be. A woman can keep hens and a kitchen garden, but it takes a man to plough and make hay and such.”

Her grandfather didn’t waste time issuing commands, did he? They’d barely made it out of the gate when he’d begun setting down his plans for her life.

“I-I suppose there are farm workers I can hire, can I not, Grandfather?”

“What? Have something against marriage, lass? Most women would have married at your age.” He looked at her sharply. “Not looking for a love match, are you? I had enough of that nonsense with your mother.”

Fiona tamped down the resentment that lurked beneath the surface. There was no point in revisiting an event from twenty years past. Of course she wanted a love match; every woman did. Most women had to settle for less, however. She doubted she had the courage to elope to Gretna Green as her mother had. 

“You must at the least allow me time to become acquainted with the neighborhood, Grandfather. I shan’t marry only for someone to run the farm.” Seeing her grandfather’s face start to turn purple, she quickly added, “He must be a man of good character, you know. I refuse to wed a drunkard or a brute.”

He opened his mouth and then closed it. “Girl, I’m not asking you to marry the first man you meet.” He paused and took her shoulders in his hands. “Just don’t be too fine in your requirements. I’m not at death’s door just yet, but it’s best you have a husband before I get there.”

As that was probably true, Fiona nodded and fell silent until they arrived at the parish church and seated themselves on a bench. 

Almost immediately she sensed someone staring at her. Turning her head to the back, she saw an attractive young man with a look of awe on his face. 

The first man she’d met. Well, seen, anyway. Was he perhaps a farmer? Suddenly her heart lightened and she felt a sense of hope for the first time since she’d arrived. 

****

Frederick Hofbauer is the oldest (by two minutes) of triplets, his brothers being Fritz and Franz, who serve tea every Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. EST in the Tea Room, hosted by Cerise DeLand and Susana Ellis and their weekly guest authors, who come to discuss themselves and their books. If you are interested in discovering new authors and books, recipes, historical fashion, and lively conversation, please join them.

Fiona hasn’t been to tea as yet, but it’s possible you will see her there in the near future.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/265460994261469

Frederick & Fiona: Frederick

by Susana Ellis

Frederick Hofbauer almost did not go to church that morning.

 

The party at Mellowwood Manor had lasted until the wee hours and he and his brothers Fritz and Franz, as footmen, were kept busy for more than two hours after that assisting the tired and tipsy guests with their outerwear and ensuring they managed to alight their coaches without injuring themselves. He barely had time to remove his livery before falling into bed next to his brothers, who were already snoring softly.

Dawn came much too quickly, and Frederick would have quite happily snored on past breakfast except for the sound of a light tapping on the door of the servant quarters.

“Frederick? Are you awake?” He recognized the soft voice as Daniel, the steward’s son, and sighed. Fitzwilliams had passed out again at the local inn and poor Daniel had to cart him home before word got out to his employer. Frederick would be tempted to leave the drunken lout where he was and suffer the consequences were it not for the frightened lad, barely six years old. He certainly did not deserve to be thrown in the streets.

Rising reluctantly from his bed, he opened the door and whispered to the boy to wait for him in the stable as he quickly donned his ordinary clothes and departed with him and Fitzwilliams’s old nag to the Dawdling Duck. By the time they had him settled in his bed at Hull Cottage, it was full daylight and Frederick was not inclined to return to his own bed. Instead he strolled around the estate, admiring the newly planted fields watching the milkmaids lead the cows into the milking shed. This was his favorite morning amusement during his free time, at least when he managed to retire before midnight.

Upon his return to the house, he found the cook ready to leave for church, about a mile down the lane. She clucked when she saw him.

“Up with t’ roosters again, lad? After all last night’s mayhem? I slept like a log until Mary brought me coffee.”

“Fitzwilliams,” he said simply. She rolled her eyes. “I should ha’ known. ‘Bout every Saturday night now. Yer too good to ‘im. Wretch deserves ta be sacked. Sad ‘bout the boy though.”

Frederick nodded.

She tilted her head to one side as she studied his face. “Come ta church wit’ me? I’ll wait for ye ta wash up.”

Frederick rubbed a hand through his hair. Well, it wasn’t as though he had anything else to do. The house was silent as a grave and it appeared as though its occupants were dead to the world after their evening of merriment.

“Very well,” he said with a smile. “I shall be only an instant, Mrs. Brown.”

Much later on, Frederick reflected that it was surely Fate that impelled him to accompany Cook to church that morning. Because that’s when he met Fiona and the scheme for his entire life was altered forever.

Meet Fiona here!

Frederick Hofbauer is the oldest (by two minutes) of triplets, his brothers being Fritz and Franz, who serve tea every Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. EST in the Tea Room, hosted by Cerise DeLand and Susana Ellis and their weekly guest authors, who come to discuss themselves and their books. If you are interested in discovering new authors and books, recipes, historical fashion, and lively conversation, please join them.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/265460994261469

The Tea Room recently celebrated its FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY, and would love to welcome you to the festivities.

A Christmas House Party invitation which will curl your nostril hairs!

Hunh! Countess of Reddington, here with a warning for you. To whit: 

A house party that will tickle your fancy…not your nostril hairs! (Of all ridiculous accusations! Lady Reddington, you are minx!)

I do marvel at Countess of Marsden and her social calendar. I mean, she is older, you know, and yet she persists in hostessing soirees that meet the stunning standards of Prinny himself!

Why only today, I received an invitation from her. She is selling…pardon me, trying to secure husbands for her three nieces. For that, she hosts a house party that will be, dare I say, notorious.

Notorious! 

Well, why wouldn’t you believe that when we all know that she has…most indiscreetly, too…engaged in a most improper relationship with one man. Who, you ask?

Dare I tell you?

I will.

I cannot resist. 

A duke, no less.

And she has invited him to this house party! As well as dozens of others.

Why, here is her invitation!

The Countess of Marsden

requests

the pleasure of your company

at her home on the North Steyne in Brighton

December 21-December 28, 1815.

She welcomes you to dining, dancing,

charades, cards and match-making

for her nieces and guests. 

Even, dear me, herself!

Card-sharps, smugglers, lecherous lords are not invited.

But many forlorn ladies in search of lost loves, a randy butler 

and a certain older gentleman whom the Countess adores

will not attend.

Yet she suspects they will appear! 

Répondez s’il vous plait!

*** 

Do not go!

I warn you. Do not. She will regale you with stories that are fit for no one’s ears. 

No one…but mine, of course.

Only mine!

Christmas Belles

The Scandalous Christmas House Party where everyone falls in love

ACCEPT THE INVITATION HERE! (BUY LINK: https://amazon.com/gp/product/B07K2JZ8SX)!Christmas Belles

Advertising for a wife? Astonishing!

I hasten to inform you, dear readers, of a most titillating scandal. I am certain many of you have heard of the opening of a very fine (but small and rather shabby) hotel on the Marine Parade in Brighton.

I was there only last week and met with the Lady Proprietor in question. A Viscountess, or once she was, until her dear husband died under mysterious circumstances in Paris. Yes, you grasp about whom I speak, because that man, noble and charming as he was, died while at court of that horrid little Napoleon.

Well! I tell you, dear readers, that this lovely Viscountess W— has moved to Brighton and opened the only asset her dear husband left her. All else that was in the entail, of course, has gone to her departed husband’s rapscallion cousin. Lady W— was hard put to survive and appreciated that her husband had bequeathed her something tangible. If it’s of value remains however to be seen.

Alas! I am off the subject!

It seems that Lady W— has turned the graceful old mansion into a hotel. Yes! She sees how many wish to frolic along with the Prince Regent and she smartly has refurbished the W— mansion into a hotel! And her first guest is none other than Duke of S—.

Imagine that. He comes in search of a wife, too. And how do I know this? Because I have seen, as have you I do imagine, the advert in the Brighton Chronicle yesterday for a wife. It reads:

To the Ladies

A Wife Wanted

A Gentleman, who has lately arrived from Philadelphia, wishes to settle for life and is therefore anxious to be Married. His connections are reputable, his fortune large and he is thirty-one years of age.

He has no objections to a lady without fortune, provided she is young, sensible and with good disposition. 

Any lady who wishes to contact said advertiser, may send a letter to this publication, care of the editor, Mr. Fawkes.

The Gentelmen will take residence in Lady W—’s hotel on the 20th of June and remains until July first. During that time, he will interview those women of whose letters he approves.

The wedding will occur July second.

Can you imagine wedded bliss from such a procedure? 

I ask you, have we not come to the lowest method of seekiing a spouse?

And in such a pleasant place as Brighton. Astonishing!

***

Who is advertising for a wife?

Lady Winston’s Scandalous Hotel is a new series of Regency romantic comedies starring the lovely widow, Viscountess of Winston. A mysterious fellow who appears to materialize on the Brighton sands one morning becomes her assistant in the arts of love. Yes, he has come from the lamp. Come from Istanbul where the sultan’s vizier condemned him to aid widows and those who seek spouses. He is charming. Lady W is dismayed. Her hotel guests are all made quite happy because they are assisted in their quest for romance! For debut in the near future, THE DUKE’S SURPRISING BRIDE, BOOK 1!

Do see my website for more happy reading! 

A house party of eye-opening revelations!

To the Tattler:

I find it imperative that I comment upon the house party to celebrate the May Day events at Lord and Lady Courtland’s home this past week. While I decline to name us for discretion among the ton, my husband and I are always invited to the annual event. This year’s frolic was truly a romp!

One lady was known to have secluded herself with a man she barely knows. Another had a most unusual public argument with a gentleman who heretofore was her childhood friend and now, oddly, seems to be her lover! The bride whose wedding we were to celebrate ran off. We know not where, nor does the groom, poor man. And her friend, who has lost two betrotheds, one to casualty of war and another to a terrible catarrh, took up with the vicar and then she disappeared!

Now I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, what kind of party was this to be? 

One shudders to think of the consequences. 

One hopes all these young ladies recover their decorum. Further, one earnestly wishes these young men attend to their manners and their duties. Proposals are expected! Special licenses necessary! Weddings should be soon.

And my, my. I do look forward to next year’s May Day Frolic. Don’t you?

Sincerely, A lady of fine repute

LADY WILLA’S DiVINELY WICKED VICAR, Book 4, 

FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FROLIC

She believed she destroyed any man who loved her. 

Lady Willa Sheffield had beauty, education, charm, a handsome dowry…and a curse for killing any man who proposed. When she falls for a man who has favor with someone who answers all prayers, she questions if she’s right.

He would move Heaven and Earth to marry her.

Reverend Charles Compton has everything a lady could require: wit, ethics, good family and stable position. But no money and no title. And for a lady who is an earl’s daughter to wed well, she needs a man of some gravitas. But a vicar of a small parish—with rousing political ideas and little income—must move Heaven and earth to make a good future.

Who can doubt the determination or the inventiveness of a man in love?

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