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Servants Shock the Neighborhood

Number 50, Dudley Crescent, London

July 15, 1821

Dearest Lucinda,

I write to you today to share my outrage at occurrences in Dudley Crescent. I simply cannot abide the recent changes and must have your advice.

Servants Shock

Two years ago, a murder occurred at Number 10. The horrid matter was quickly resolved when the culprit was identified and put away from fine society.  But the greater scandal was that the widowed lady of the house had intimate relations with her butler! Then last year, a noted member of society hired a young woman as ward to his child…and later, did marry the woman! She was far below his station, though, I do understand, an heiress of considerable worth. I must tell you the man is one of our finest gentlemen with a spotless reputation and high military honors. Yet, I worry.

Another event occurring last week causes me to question my presence here!

I understand that one noble gentleman has paid attentions to one of his servants! This time, said woman is not a governess. No, indeed, she is his maid-of-all-work! Can you imagine? I’ve been inconsolable, riddled with a nervous stomach and headaches. My usual little dose of laudanum is simply not enough to calm me.

This causes me to ask you if you think I should move to a better part of town. Is there a curse on the Crescent? Must I expect more servants who will climb above their station to enthrall their masters or mistresses? Worse, will such an affliction affect my own house? I must tell you, quite confidentially, that my only daughter, Lady Mary, seems far too taken with one of our own servants. The new…dear me, I can barely write this…stable boy. Yes! He is most definitely not a boy. Not by any means. He is thirty years of age or more. Tall, taller than my dear departed husband. And devilishly handsome with hair the color of coal and eyes like lavender. He is quite ethereal.

I do rattle on!

Advise me, please!

Most sincerely,

Catherine, the Viscountess of Trelawny

Dudley Crescent is a verdant parcel of land in London, granted by King Charles II to the Earl of Dudley who was one of his staunchest supporters. With gold he’d stolen as a highwayman during Charles’s exile on the Continent, Dudley put his ill-gotten gains to good use and built the finest town homes in the capital. Renting the land in perpetuity to certain Royalist friends quadrupled his fortune.

Today, those who have townhomes surrounding the verdant park are a few of the wealthiest and most influential lords and ladies in the kingdom. But scandals abound on Dudley Crescent. You can find them here:

https://www.amazon.com/Cerise-DeLand/e/B0089DS2N2/

Or here: http://cerisedeland.com/delightful-doings-in-dudley-crescent/

The Restitution League

To Miss Nelly Tremaine

Dear Sister—

What’s this about you leaving your position with the Grenvilles?  Word is they’re a respectable family. I had hopes that their cook would train you up. Good cooks are scarce. You’d never want for work with that kind of skill.

I must confess, your new employers sound terrifying. I know you said they assist people who’ve been done wrong, but they used to be thieves. Even the women! I can’t imagine why you’d leave a fine household to work for such a strange group. But then, you’ve always been one to leap before you looked.

I pray to God every night to keep you safe. Your loving sister, Bess

To Mrs. Thaddeus Wilton

Restitution

Dear Bess—

I know you’ve been worried about me taking that new position with the Restitution League, but I couldn’t be happier. Mrs. Crane and the rest are very kind, even if Mr. Edison does scare the daylights out of us with his experiments. The explosions do rattle one’s nerves, I don’t mind saying. Last week he built a brass automaton that pours tea!  It wasn’t long before the poor fellow knocked over an end table and broke a vase. Mrs. Crane was not pleased.

As you can see by this letter, I’ve learnt to use the typewriter quite well. I’m to start lessons on the telegraph machine next week. Learning Morse code seems impossibe, but Mr. Edison says I’ve got the brains for it. Time will tell. I’m so happy to be doing something besides sweeping and dusting. 

I hope Thaddeus and the children are well. It looks as if I’ll get a chance to see for myself soon. Mr. and Mrs. Crane are going on a delayed honeymoon trip next month. She says I’m to have a whole two weeks leave. The Grenvilles were never so generous.

 I’ve already saved up for the train fare, so you can plan on having me at the first of the month. There’s no need to fret. I’m happier than I could imagine. And wait until you see my new clothes!  Office girls don’t have to wear stupid old uniforms like maids do. I’ve got a smart new set of dresses to show you.

I can’t wait to see you all.  Your sister, the office girl

Restitution
Yost Typewriter 1890

About the Book

A woman who disdains love collides with a man who lives for passion. Explosions ensue.

Ada Templeton believes in science. She believes in chemical reactions and experimentation and old-fashioned common sense. She’s far too clever to be seduced by a rake like Edison Sweet.

Over Ada’s objections, Edison agrees to guard her latest invention from a mastermind willing to kill for it. He never expects to be intrigued by the lovely widow whose body he finds as exciting as her mind.

Seducing the Scientist and the other books in the Restitution League series are now available in Kindle Unlimited.

Buy Links:

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Excerpt:

In the daylight, Ada’s laboratory was nothing short of spectacular.

It was everything Edison’s own workshop was not. Beakers, test tubes, and glass decanters, each in their proper place on mahogany workbenches, gleamed in the bright autumn light. All neat and tidy and pleasingly arranged, not unlike the scientist who worked there.

All the more so as he suspected the effect was completely accidental.

And then there was her scent. That light swirl of violets. Even in the midst of the acrid, metallic odors emanating from every beaker and box in the crowded room, it stirred him.

Delightful perfume aside, the woman’s obstinance was beginning to grate. Badly.

Edison rubbed a hand over his eyes. “I can’t keep your device safe if you don’t tell me where it is.”

She raised a beaker to eye level, frowning as she measured dry plaster of Paris to her liking. “It’s well hidden. Have no worry about that.”

“Have no worry? Are you addled?” He threw his hands up. “What do you think those men were looking for last night? What about the men before that? They weren’t after your excessive hoard of plaster.”

She continued with her measuring. “You’ll have to trust me, Mr. Sweet…Edison. The device is secure. What I do need your assistance with—and I am fully willing to admit it—is protection for my family.”

“Yes, yes. Of course. We’ll keep you all safe. That’s the easy part. I sent the stable boy to gather the rest of the League before I came down to breakfast. My reinforcements will be here before lunch, I’m sure. But I can’t protect your device, unless—”

She slammed the jar of powder down onto the counter. “You’re already taking a risk to protect us. I won’t add to that. The device is safe. Even if it were not, I won’t have you endanger yourself to save it.”

Unlike most women, she didn’t resort to coquetry. She met him head to head. Any other time, he would have found that profoundly appealing. Under the current conditions, however, it was unduly aggravating.

He closed his eyes, wishing he were contending with the sort of woman who liked to be cosseted and protected. He understood those women—how they thought, what they desired.

How to get what he wanted in return.

Habit made him lean close so his breath would caress her ear. He’d been told more than once it made women shiver delightfully. “I’ll find it eventually, you know.”

Instead of melting, softening, shivering, or sighing, she jerked away as if he reeked like a fishmonger.

“Search all you like.” She measured chloride into the beakers. “You won’t find it.”

Edison ground his teeth. Dear God, he’d seen granite cliffs less stubborn. If charm had no effect, intimidation might.

He lifted the chloride from her hand and set it on the bench.

She glared fiercely. “I beg your pardon?”

He ignored her and closed in, backing her up against a filing cabinet. When she could go no farther, he spread his arms wide, his palms flat against the cabinet front, pinning her in.

He’d planned to frighten her, to scare her into letting him have the device. But that sweet scent wrapped around him again, obscuring his train of thought in a sensual mist. All he could think of were her lips, slightly parted and begging to be kissed.

She squinted up at him. “What are your intentions?”

The words did not match her tone, which was soft and sweet and—dare he hoped—welcoming.

He smiled. “What would you like them to be?”

Her mouth opened wider. Her chest rose and fell as her breath deepened and her eyes dilated. “I believe I should like you to kiss me,” she said finally.

About the Author

Riley Cole writes sexy, sassy historical romances set in the innovative, energetic Victorian Era.

If you enjoy high adventure with your historical romance, delve into Riley’s version of late Victorian London. Thieves, rogues, and love await.

Stay updated on Restitution League news, exclusive content and new releases, subscribe to Riley’s newsletter at http://bit.ly/rileynews

You can find Riley here:

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The Mysterious Fellow Traveler

Letter posted from Cheltenham, England, to Morristown, New Jersey, 1832 leaked to The Teatime Tattler

My darling Earnestine,

We arrived in Bristol Wednesday, two days behind schedule, much the worse for weather, and happy to be back on solid ground. My darling Howard’s brother sent a carriage to convey us from the harbor, and we couldn’t leave swiftly enough for my nerves I tell you. If England has a less salubrious port than this one, I don’t want to encounter it. Nefarious appearing individuals lurked along the docks and at every corner where seedy and disreputable establishments abounded. One has heard frightening stories of civil unrest about the place as well, but we saw nothing of that sort. Once quit of the place, England’s green hills unfolded in front of us and I was able to put my fears aside.

traveler
(c) Bristol Museum and Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The voyage proved as tedious as I anticipated. Howard devoted himself to cards in the common room leaving my Ellie and I to our own devices. Not far into the journey a new acquaintance alleviated our boredom—thank goodness.

Mrs. Gordon Melrose, the sister-in-law of an actual baronet, regaled us with tales of society and the sites of London, whetting our appetite for the capital I can tell you. She also enlightened us about one of our more mysterious fellow passengers.

Ellie pointed the man out almost as soon as we embarked from New York. The girl does have an eye for a fine specimen of manhood! Tall and lean with thick auburn hair, he had the air of one of those frontier types young girls find so romantic, yet he dressed like a gentleman. Oddly, he carried a three-legged cat. We rarely saw him without the beast. When Howard complained to the captain about the presence of a feline, he was told that having a predator to keep vermin from the hold was in fact good luck. Ellie pronounced it adorable, though I could not see how a deformed cat could hunt.

In any case our mystery man proved to have more to his credit than good looks. Mr. Melrose informed us that Randolph Wheatly—the man’s name so she said—possesses important connections. His sister, the Countess of Chadbourn holds sway in the highest reaches of society, and is a friend of two Duchesses no less. Think of it Earnestine, a countess! (That is the wife of an earl in case you aren’t as  fully informed as we are).

I thought it prudent to encourage Ellie’s interest in the man, but the girl was profoundly disappointed by his curt refusal of any social overtures. Quite reclusive, he moped in solitude and scowled at all who approached, as if his troubles weighed him down. Ellie of course found his brooding good looks irresistibly attractive, poor girl. When we docked he moved rapidly off the ship and disappeared into the unsavory streets of Bristol, as though the horrid place had been his final destination, something I cannot believe.

Oh well. Perhaps we will encounter him in London. Perhaps he’ll introduce us to his sister, the countess. Think of it Earnestine!

Your loving sister,

Eunice

About the Book

Rand has good reason to brood on the voyage and to hurray away. He has a people to rescue, and family conflict to face.

Two hearts betrayed by love…

Desperate and afraid, Meggy Blair will do whatever it takes to protect her children. She’d hoped to find sanctuary from her abusive husband with her Ojibwa grandmother, but can’t locate her. When her children fall ill, she finds shelter in an isolated cabin in Upper Canada. But when the owner unexpectedly returns, he’s furious to find squatters disrupting his self-imposed solitude.

Reclusive businessman Rand Wheatly had good reason to put an ocean between himself and the family that deceived him. He just wants the intrusive woman gone, yet it isn’t long before Meggy and the children start breaking down the defensive walls he’s built. His heart isn’t as hard as he thought. But their fragile interlude is shattered when Meggy’s husband appears to claim his children, threatening to have Rand jailed.

The only way for Meggy to protect Rand is to leave him. When her husband takes her and the children to England, Meggy discovers he’s far more than an abuser; what he’s involved in endangers all their lives. To rescue the woman who has stolen his heart, Rand must follow her and do what he swore he’d never do: reconcile with his aristocratic family and finally uncover the truth behind all the lies. But time is running out for them all.

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LY7IRT6/

Excerpt: https://www.carolinewarfield.com/the-renegade-wife-excerpt/

About the Author

Award winning author of historical romance usually set in the Regency and Victorian eras, Caroline Warfield reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the world. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Links:

Web http://www.carolinewarfield.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/carolinewarfield7

Twitter @CaroWarfield

Email warfieldcaro@gmail.com

LibraryThing http://www.librarything.com/profile/CaroWarfield

Amazon Author http://www.amazon.com/Caroline-Warfield/e/B00N9PZZZS/

Good Reads http://bit.ly/1C5blTm

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/caroline-warfield

Stolen Missives

Editorial Note: This packet of correspondence came to the Tattler offices when one of our reporters shared drinks with a man at the Bull and Codfish pub. The young man, who seems to be a careless footman in the employ of Mrs. Andrew Mallet of Bedford Square, left it on the table. We of course forwarded the entire packet on to its correct destination.

Mr. Clemens made copies first, but given the involvement of the Foreign Office, he declared they were not to be published. He must have forgotten to lock his desk. Besides, nothing here relates to matters of national interest.

To the Duchess of Sudbury,

Lily, I am in London, but not at home to callers, family excepted of course. Andrew remains in Cambridge, make of that what you will. When I tell you what has happened you will understand my need to live apart. I beg your support.

I know you send private mail to Richard via official couriers and the packet ships. May I ask you to send the enclosed message as soon as it can be arranged? I need his help and my son must be alerted. I trust him to inform his nephew cautiously.

Athena is gone to Italy.

I know that shocks you, but perhaps not is much as it ought. Since the Heyworths’ visit five years ago she has spoken of nothing but Italy, reminding me daily that in Italy there are medical schools that admit women. The desire to study medicine is admirable; you and I would both cheer her on if the girl was, not to mince words, normal. Even if she could cope with strangers…but of course she cannot.

She sailed from Falmouth a week ago. Her brother Archie, who perpetrated this insanity, accompanied her, which would be a saving grace if I thought he could handle her in a crisis. Her father, the wretch, professes to be proud of him. For a scholar Andrew can be remarkably obtuse. I can’t imagine how the poor girl managed the ship to Rome, much less life in a foreign country. I dread the condition we will find her in when she returns.

I discovered this morning that Lochlin assisted Archie as well. I can forgive a young man— they often think with body parts other than their brains—but I can’t forgive her father. I suspect Andrew actually abetted the young fools. He denies it, but I don’t believe him.

Enough! I will tell you all when I see you.

Georgiana

Editorial Note: The young lady in question, Miss Catherine Mallet, known to her family as Athena, is a recluse who shuns society after some unfortunate incidents of panic and hysteria (this paper has reason to know one such incident occurred in the Pembrook’s ballroom). She rarely leaves the family home in Cambridge except to visit close relatives, and is reputed to have an unnatural interest in the anatomy of animals and humans. Rumors about this abound in that shire, where some consider her quite insane, but others merely the oddest member of a notably eccentric family.

The second missive, in the same hand, although entirely concerning a private matter, was sent through official channels to Cairo. One wonders if that is entirely ethical.

The Duke of Sudbury

Her Majesty’s Envoy to the court of Muhammad Ali Pasha, Khedive of Egypt

Cairo

Dearest Richard,

Forgive me for presuming by sending personal mail through the foreign office channels, and troubling you when you are deep into affairs of state—although when are you not?—but time may be of the essence.

To get right to the point, Archie has taken Athena to Rome from where she expects she can be admitted to medical school. I don’t need to outline for you all the reasons why this is nonsensical. Archie, the coward, sent a message from Falmouth saying that once he had her safely settled (as if that might be possible!), he will travel directly to Edinburgh and begin his own studies.

This will grieve Aeneas mightily. He and Archie quarreled on the subject of Athena shortly before he left for Egypt. Archie has the pudding-brained notion she should be encouraged to pursue studies to be a physician. Aeneas, ever the level headed one where his sister is concerned, knows she should be kept close where we can protect her.

I send this in the hope that you will use your connections to ensure our officials in Italy watch out for them. If I can further impose on your kindness, please make Aeneas aware that this has happened. If it should go badly, he needs warning.

With gratitude,

Your loving sister, Georgiana

PS

Since you have a way of discovering things anyway, I will tell you that Andrew and I have separated over this at least for now. Do not chastise me. I suspect Archie acted with his father’s blessing. I am too angry to patch things over.

PPS

Aeneas may be sensible about his sister but not his work. I count on you to keep him from doing something foolish like plunging deep into Africa in pursuit of some previously undiscovered crumb of knowledge. I want him back in one piece.

G.

Editorial Note:  Our readers who pay follow the doings of the haut ton know that there is little the Duke will not manage on behalf of his family, his friends, or the Empire come to that. They will note, however, how unusual it is to have a one of his circle actually ask for help rather than having it thrust upon them.

About the Author

Caroline Warfield writes family centered historical romance, largely set in the Regency and Victorian eras. The saga of the Mallets, their friends, and their family began with Dangerous Works.

About the Dangerous Series

Dangerous Works (The Mallets’ Story)

A little Greek is one thing; the art of love is another. Only Andrew ever tried to teach Georgiana both.

Dangerous Weakness (Sudbury and Lily’s Story)

A marquess who never loses control (until he does) and a very independent woman conflict, until revolution, politics, and pirates force them to work together. (In which Sudbury had not come into his title and was yet the Marquess of Glenaire)

Dangerous Secrets

When Jamie fled to Rome to hide his shame he didn’t expect a vicar’s daughter and her imp of a niece to take over his life, with complications from an interfering nun, a powerful count, and a genial monk.

A Dangerous Nativity

With Christmas coming, can the Earl of Chadbourn repair his sister’s damaged estate, and more damaged family? Dare he hope for love in the bargain? (A free novella—prequel to both series)

The Children of Empire Series: the Scattered

Three cousins (introduced in A Dangerous Nativity) torn apart by lies and deceit work their way back home from the far corners of empire.

The Renegade Wife

A desperate woman on the run with her children finds shelter with a reclusive businessman in the Canadian wilderness. Can he save them all?

The Reluctant Wife

A disgraced Bengal army officer finds himself responsible for two unexpected daughters and a headstrong widow. This time, failure is not an option.

The Unexpected Wife

The Duke of Murnane expects work to heal him. He doesn’t expect to face his past and find his future in China (The heroine is Sudbury’s daughter)

The Children of Empire Series: the Seekers

This series, expected in mid 2020 will pick up with the travels and adventures of Aeneas, Archie, and Athena Mallet as they pursue their own happiness.

SOPHIE’S JOURNAL

From the journal of Sophie Hartford – the Tattler has received her PRIVATE Journal from Chateau de Fontanes, the Pyranees, 1818

Tuesday, 28th April. We returned to the chateau today. I was sorry to say goodbye to my friends in Ax-les-Thermes but the marquise assures me we’ll go back there soon. For now, we’re going to spend a quiet few days here in the mountains, and I’m going to be watching my sister closely. I sense she’s attracted to Joachim. Indeed, who wouldn’t be, so handsome and warmhearted as he is. With those big brown eyes and that smile like sunshine, he’s most alluring. But Nell is Nell and she hides her feelings behind a cool composure. On the other hand, Joachim is making it plain he likes and admires her.

Journal

            This afternoon we went down to the stables and the two of them started talking together. I may be four years younger than Nell, but I’m grown up enough to see that Joachim only had eyes for her. So I dawdled around, stroking my horse, petting the stable cat, and then sat down on a bench. Joachim’s lurcher dog, Flocon, came and sat by me. They didn’t notice they were alone as they wandered off down the paddock, talking all the time. At several points they stopped, I could see them waving their arms around as they discussed something. Surely they must be coming to an agreement. Indeed, all the stableboys and grooms found excuses to come out and watch them as well.

             My romantic hopes were sadly dashed when they returned, and I found they’d spent the entire time talking about educating the poor children of the estate. But tomorrow is another day and I’ll think up a scheme to bring them together. Why is my 22 year old sister resisting such charm?

 Wednesday 29th April. This morning Nell was in the music room, helping a little boy with his lesson. I casually told Joachim of this and soon I saw him rush along to the music room. The little boy came out, and I pretended to be arranging flowers in a vase in the corridor, so as to keep an eye on the door, in case anyone else tried to go in. Flocon has become attached to me and he sat watching as I fiddled with the flowers. A rather long time went by and I began to worry that our kind hostess might come in search of us. So I tiptoed up to the door, which wasn’t quite shut.

private journal entries
The Chateau de Fontanes

Somehow I stifled a gasp on seeing them locked in a very passionate embrace on the windowseat.  As I peeped, they slid down until Joachim was lying almost on top of her. Oh, my stars! What lightning progress from yesterday’s formal behaviour. But I had to stop them before they forgot themselves utterly. Suddenly I had a brainwave. I nudged the door a little further open and pushed Flocon into the room. He started barking and ran to jump up at his master. I saw Joachim jerk his head up, so I pulled the door shut again and fled.  

This evening. At dinner I was expecting an Announcement but they both behaved as usual. Such a disappointment. And later, when we came up to go to bed, Nell didn’t say a word about her relationship with Joachim. She’s being very sly but tomorrow I shall tell her that I KNOW!

About the book: The Outcasts

 Joachim is the youngest of the three Montailhac brothers. Always close to the land, he now manages his father’s estates and livestock. Athletic and handsome, Joachim seems to have an ideal existence. But he has a guilty secret and it suddenly reappears to cause havoc. His life is further complicated by dealing with an accident at the iron mine on the estate just as visitors arrive, bringing yet more problems.

Nell and Sophie Hartford are cousins of Joachim’s sister-in-law, Olivia [see Scandalous Lady]. In the Spring of 1818 they find themselves outcasts from their officer father’s home in Paris, and are forced to accept Olivia’s assurance that her mother-in-law, the Marquise de Fontanes, will make them welcome. After all, says Olivia, life in the family chateau in the Pyrenees will be a tonic for them. Two unhappy girls struggle to fit into the very different lifestyle of the large and slightly exotic Montailhac family. At the same time, danger threatens from a deranged criminal bent on vengeance against their hosts.

Read an excerpt from The Outcasts     

Nell seemed to have grown even prettier while he was away. Joachim joined his family in the Assembly Rooms and gazed appreciatively at her while she exchanged greetings with several of her new friends. Her primrose yellow dress brought out the russet gleams in her hair. She looked elegant and appealing. Glancing towards his mother he found her watching him with a twinkle in her eyes. She raised an eyebrow and he stepped close.

‘Mother, you’ve wrought a miracle. When she first arrived, dressed all in grey, I called her ‘Miss Dismal’ to myself. Now, I wonder if even her own father would recognise her.’

The marquise squeezed his hand. ‘Poor girls. Cast out as they were, no wonder they were so dejected. It is a pleasure to see them thrive here.’ She smiled at the buzz of light hearted chatter coming from the group. ‘Now you can keep an eye on them. I want to talk to my friends for a while.’

‘Hey, Joachim,’ one of the young men greeted him with a horrified air, ‘Did you know what’s in store this evening? Old Deschamps is going to recite one of his endless poems.’

There was a general muttering and some groans.

Nell gave a choke of laughter and looked enquiringly at Joachim.

He crossed his eyes at her, which made her laugh aloud. He sobered suddenly, staring into her green-grey eyes. She really was lovely, especially with that wash of pink colouring her cheeks. He wanted to get her away from the others.

 ‘Do you play cards? Then we could escape to the card room.’

‘No, neither of us plays.’ She looked round for her sister, but Sophie had disappeared.

‘She doesn’t like poetry recitals, I take it?’ said Joachim, amused.

‘No, but this is rude. I must find her.’

‘I’ll come with you.’ They slipped off towards the other room. ‘Well,’ said Joachim, ‘it seems we don’t care for poetry recitals either.’

She gave him a glance full of mischief, and laughed again, making him want to get her right away from everyone. ‘Let’s hope we don’t find Sophie too quickly, then.’

However, ten minutes later, Sophie was nowhere to be seen and Nell was showing signs of alarm.

‘I’d better see if she’s returned to the recital,’ she decided. They stood in the doorway, peering in. The marquise saw them and beckoned. Nell went to her and sat down. The poet was in full flow, and Joachim shook his head at his mother, who shrugged. He turned back into the card room and came face to face with Sophie. She smiled naughtily.

‘I saw you looking for me,’ she told him. ‘Bertrand spotted me but he didn’t say anything.’

‘Bad girl.’

She tossed her head. ‘You had more fun looking for me with Nell than being bored to death in there. Let’s play cards.’ She spun away, towards a table at the back of the room, where Bertrand was shuffling a pack of cards. He rose to his feet and pulled out a chair. Sophie sat down, casting a look of triumph at Joachim.

‘Nell said you don’t play,’ he protested.

She bit her lip, looking shamefaced suddenly. ‘Not really,’ she mumbled, ‘but I can watch you.’

A few of the older players were casting disapproving looks their way, although there were other ladies in the room. It was simply that Sophie was so very young. His mother would give him an earful later but until the poet finished his recitation, they would stay here.

‘Vingt-et-un?’ suggested Bertrand, dealing. The luck went against him for several games. He slammed his cards down. ‘Let’s have a drink. It might turn the luck in my favour.’ He beckoned to a waiter and held up three fingers.

‘Have they still not finished next door?’ he asked. He smiled at Sophie. ‘There’ll be some folk-songs later. You’ll enjoy that.’

She agreed and glanced at the approaching waiter. She stared for a moment and gave a gasp of surprise.

Joachim heard her and looked up. It was that toothy lad, and something was wrong. He saw the boy’s face change as he looked at Sophie. He set the tray down awkwardly, keeping his head bent down.

Bertrand picked up a glass and offered it to Sophie.

‘Er, no, no, sir,’ spluttered the waiter, jerking his hand out, but Sophie had already raised the glass to her lips.

‘Don’t drink,’ said Joachim sharply. Too late.

She set the empty glass down and tossed her head. ‘I’m old enough to drink wine, you know.’ Then the blood drained from her face. She put a hand to her throat. ‘Aargh,’ she croaked.

Both young men were on their feet. Joachim seized Sophie by the arm. ‘Get Nell,’ he shot at Bertrand and pulling Sophie’s arm round his shoulders he half-walked, half-dragged her towards the back door, which was close by.

‘Open it, you,’ he panted.

The rabbit-toothed waiter darted to obey.

They barely made it outside before Sophie began to retch. Joachim pulled out his handkerchief and was turning to look for some water when something struck him on the back of his head. He saw a mighty flash of red and then nothing more.

About the Author

Beth Elliott

Beth Elliott loves speaking different languages and traveling to out of the way places. A Welsh mother and a Lancashire father mean she has a complicated mix of imagination and practical common sense. After a teaching career in several countries, she settled in the Thames Valley. Settled, that is, except when the traveling bug takes her. An excuse for this is that she has published a number of travel articles, and of course, she can use the settings for her novels.

Her Regency Tales are stories of intrigue, adventure and romance, with a few real people in among the cast of characters who find themselves caught up in events that rather upset their normal lives. She hasn’t yet put Napoleon himself in a story, but he’s on the waiting list. On the principle of ladies first, especially in the Regency era, Lady Hester Stanhope played a small but vital role in ‘Scandalous Lady.’

From her own experience of life in Turkey, Beth likes to add a touch of exotic to some of her stories. But adventure and romance can – and do – occur just as easily in London, Bath or Brighton as in Constantinople.

For more information, visit her at the following links.

Website:  https://www.regencytales.co.uk/

Blog:  https://regencytales.blogspot.com/

Facebook    http://en-gb.facebook.com/people/Beth-Elliott/1128803291

Twitter  https://twitter.com/BethElliott

Her Regency Tales are available as paperbacks or e-books at  

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beth-Elliott/e/B002QM5RGM/

and

https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Elliott/e/B002QM5RGM/

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