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Servants Always Know

You can learn a lot in pubs and cafés. Your Teatime Tattler has long had a policy of lingering in such establishments on the fringe more posh neighborhoods—the sort of places servants might gather on their off days.

The Little Brown Hen Pub has been particularly useful lately. It seems one of our “better” squares, one populated by two earls, a wealthy baron, and a dowager duchess to name a few, has had an abundance of havey-cavey behavior lately—enough to make a debutante blush.

First off an upstairs maid from the Earl of W—’s house and a footman from Mr. M.C.’s both were at pains to tell our man on the spot about strange arrangements in the Earl of C—’s fashionable townhouse—he who came into his title just last summer.

servants

“Y’don’t see them servants here, do ya? They keep to themselves they do. Downright unfriendly,” complained the footman.

“That butler o’thern looks more like a prize fighter than a butler, if you ask me,” the little maid sniffed. “And have you seen that footman missing one ear? His visage has an ugly scar. What kind of earl hires ugly servants?”

They scurried off to fetch more ale when an older woman, dressed in black, and obviously an upper servant shooed them away. She introduced herself as Her Grace’s dresser—that would be the dowager—and insisted on tea. “Only tea,” she said with a sniff. This bird seemed a bit high class for this pub, but then maybe widowed duchesses don’t pay as well as others.

Servants

“If you’re interested in the Earl of C—, I can tell you more interesting things about that house than deformed footmen,” she said, rubbing two fingers together. We’re always willing to spare a few coin for a woman who can use ‘em. We obliged.

“To begin with the man doesn’t live there. He has rooms at the Albany, and God only knows what bachelors get up to there. When the old earl died, the older sister—she who is the Duchess of M— came to look after the younger girl, a flibbertigibbet of the first order, in my opinion.” She drew breath and our man quickly suspected she had many opinions loosened by coin.

“Now the Duke of M— is a fine man, but his wife is a pale shadow of a thing, utterly incapable of minding the hoyden. They must have gotten fed up with her foolish starts and outlandish taking because they up and left. Closed up the house but for a few servants.”

She leaned over and dropped her voice, those fingers moving. Another coin may have slid across the table. “I saw them leave. Saw the carriage pull round, the duchess get in, the duke pull their boy by his collar and toss him in, and then they left.”

Our man waited, and not in vain. “I did not see the younger sister get in that carriage. Nor the one with the maid, valet, and baggage,” she went on. “Neither one. I watched the whole time.” He took her meaning, but to be sure he asked, “Are you telling me the Earl of C—’s young unmarried sister is living on her own in a house that’s supposed to be closed?”

“Well I know I didn’t see her leave with ‘em, and more.” She leaned in again. “I’ve been watching a girl her size wearing the clothes of a scullery maid but walking with the bearing of a countess coming and going through the tradesmen’s door. That chit is up to something, no doubt about it, and heading for ruin.”

“Is that it?”

“Well. The Earl of C— feeds anyone who come to his kitchen. Her Grace has complained mightily that it attracts all sorts of unsavory types. This very morning I saw a particularly horrid specimen—a filthy one-armed ruffian—parade through their garden as free as you please, and get taken in. Taken in and that girl in residence! Not an hour later he was out on the street. Did they toss him on his fundament? No! One of those deformed footmen was giving him directions. I ask you, is that how a respectable household conducts itself?”

________________

The Earl of Chadbourn makes it a policy to hire as many veterans in need of work as he can. The result has been a rather unusual collection of servants. As to his sister, perhaps he wasn’t watching as closely as he should.

Watch for Lord Ethan’s Honor in Fire & Frost: a Bluestocking Belles Collection

When a young woman marches into an alley full of homeless former soldiers, Ethan Alcott feels something he thought dead stir to life: his sense of honor. Effort at charity put the chit in danger; someone needs to take her in hand.

Lady Flora Landrum discovers that the mysterious one-armed ruffian she encountered in a back alley is Lord Ethan Alcott, son of the Marquess of Welbrook; her astonishment gives way to determination. As Ethan comes to admire Flora’s courage, perhaps he can reclaim his own.

About Fire & Frost

Join The Ladies’ Society For The Care of the Widows and Orphans of Fallen Heroes and the Children of Wounded Veterans in their pursuit of justice, charity, and soul-searing romance.

The Napoleonic Wars have left England with wounded warriors, fatherless children, unemployed veterans, and hungry families. The ladies of London, led by the indomitable Duchess of Haverford plot a campaign to feed the hungry, care for the fallen—and bring the neglectful Parliament to heel. They will use any means at their disposal to convince the gentlemen of their choice to assist.

Their campaign involves strategy, persuasion, and a wee bit of fun. Pamphlets are all well and good, but auctioning a lady’s company along with her basket of delicious treats is bound to get more attention. Their efforts fall amid weeks of fog and weather so cold the Thames freezes over and a festive Frost Fair breaks out right on the river. The ladies take to the ice. What could be better for their purposes than a little Fire and Frost?

Celebrate Valentine’s Day 2020 with six interconnected Regency romances from the Bluestocking Belles.

Caroline Warfield is a Belle. You can learn about her and her writing here: https://www.carolinewarfield.com/

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/

Whispers in a Closet

Information comes to the Tattler from many sources, whispers among servants being one of the most fruitful…

Mary Fisher went about her business as her mistress directed, even with the house in an uproar and the mistress preoccupied with worry.  The whole staff had more work than usual, what with a wedding the day before. She carried her bucket and rags carefully up the servant stairs to the third level with great care so as not to spill a drop, an effort that proved futile when a hand snaked out, grabbed her free arm, and pulled her into the linen closet. The door slammed shut.

“Ow! You made me slosh water on the floor. Are you trying to cost me my position?”

In the gloom, she could just make out the gleam in Lizzy Smith’s smug expression.  “Pish posh. That countess is too soft-hearted to fire either of us over some spilled water.”

Mary leaned down to wipe up the spill. “Y’ought to be working, not lurking in closets,” she muttered. “You planning to pounce on that green-eyed footman again? That will get you dismissed if you keep it up.”

Lizzy pulled her up. “Don’t be daft. I just want to talk. Did you hear what went on in the Countess’s sitting room? The Family is in a state and that’s the truth.”

“Everyone knows Mister Rand disappeared last night. Rob Portman heard it all serving the breakfast. His bed wasn’t slept in and—”

“But I know what happened in the countess’s sitting room.” There was no mistaking Lizzy’s self-satisfied smirk now. She knew something. No doubt about it.

Duty warred with curiosity in Mary’s heart. Servants oughtn’t to gossip, her mam taught her that early. The family had been good to Mary, though and she hated all the running about and the countess’s worried expression. Curiosity won out. “What’d you hear?”

“Well, you know as how Mr. Rand’s stayed at Cambridge after the duke, his cousin came to down two months ago?”

“’e just come in three days ago, though he was supposed to stand up with the duke. Rob said they never spoke, even yesterday at the wedding. Like somethin’ happened tween the two o’ them as used to be stuck like burrs one to the other.” It distressed Mary to see two young men that always seemed like good folk be against each other that way. “Never saw one without the other ever—”

Lizzy waved a dismissive hand. “So we know there’s bad blood now, but over what I ask you ?”

Mary shrugged. “Young men fight. They’ll come around.”

“Lurking at keyholes, more like,” Mary muttered.

Lizzy ignored the jab. “I heard the countess crying her eyes out, and the earl, he’s trying to comfort her. He says, ‘Cath…’ (did you know he calls her that?) ‘Cath,’ he says, ‘the whole world knows that woman is carrying a baby, except for maybe Charles, the young fool.’”

“He called the duke a fool? He’s ever so smart.”

“A man can be smart about business and a still let a woman pull wool over his eyes.”

Lizzy would know, Mary thought glumly. The import of Lizzy’s other words hit her. “Wait, are you saying the new duchess is pregnant?” Her jaw hung slack.

Lizzy pursed her lips. “Don’t be a slow top. Of course she is. That isn’t the good part.”

Good may not be the word, Mary thought, but she suspected she was about to hear whatever it was.

“The earl said as how it was too bad Mr. Fred didn’t come to the wedding because he could talk some sense into them both, but the countess says something like, ‘Rand had no idea.’ It were kind of muffled like. The earl, he says Mr. Rand couldn’t know nothing since he stayed away and the countess says—listen up Mary!”

“What did she say?” Mary dreaded hearing it, but couldn’t help listening.

Lizzy dropped her voice, “Clear as a bell, she tells the earl Mr. Rand said the duchess is so far along it had to have happened while he was still walking out with her.”

Mary blinked rapidly, trying to understand.

“Don’t be a booby, Mary. The duke got Mr. Rand’s lady with child while she was still supposed to be with Mr. Rand. No wonder those two are at each other’s throats. No man wants his cousin—much less best friend or any other man—poaching on his preserve. Ran off he did. Said he isn’t never coming back.”

Mary shook her head and picked up her bucket without talking.

“Earl said, ‘That woman will make Charles miserable, mark my words,’ and the countess she said, ‘She already heaped misery on all of us,’ and went on back to crying.”

Mary stopped listening. She went back to work, her heart heavy. Family oughtn’t to treat one another badly. They ought to come together in time of troubles, that’s for certain, she thought.

_________________

About the Book, The Renegade Wife

Reclusive businessman Rand Wheatly finds his solitude disrupted by a desperate woman running with her children from an ugly past. But even his remote cabin in Upper Canada isn’t safe enough. Meggy Blair may have lied to him, but she and her children have breached the walls of his betrayed heart. Now she’s on the run again. To save them he must return to face his demons and seek help from the family he vowed to never see again.

It is available in Kindle format free with Kindle Unlimited or for purchase as ebook or in print:

Amazon US
Barnes and Noble
BooksAMillion
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon DE
Amazon IT
Amazon FR
Amazon ES
Amazon IN
Amazon AU


The Renegade Wifeis Book 1 in Caroline Warfield’s Children of Empire Series.

Three cousins, who grew up together in the English countryside, have been driven apart by deceit and lies. (You may guess a woman was involved!) Though they all escape to the outposts of The British Empire, they all make their way home to England, facing their past and finding love and the support of women of character and backbone. They are:

  • Randolph Baldwin Wheatly who has become a recluse, and lives in isolation in frontier Canada intent on becoming a timber baron, until a desperate woman invades his peace. (The Renegade Wife)
  • Captain Frederick Arthur Wheatly, an officer in the Bengal army, who enjoys his comfortable life on the fringes until his mistress dies, and he’s forced to choose between honor and the army. (The Reluctant Wife)
  • Charles, Duke of Murnane, tied to a miserable marriage, throws himself into government work to escape bad memories. He accepts a commission from the Queen that takes him to Canton and Macau, only to face his past there. (The Unexpected Wife)

Who are their ladies?

  • Meggy Campeau, the daughter of a French trapper and Ojibwe mother who has made mistakes, but is fierce in protecting her children. (The Renegade Wife)
  • Clare Armbruster, fiercely independent woman of means, who is determined to make her own way in life, but can’t resist helping a foolish captain sort out his responsibilities. (The Reluctant Wife)
  • Zambak Hayden, eldest child of the Duke of Sudbury, knows she’d make a better heir than her feckless younger brother, but can’t help protecting the boy to the point of following him to China. She may just try to sort out the Empire’s entangled tea trade–and its ugly underpinning, opium, while she’s there. (The Unexpected Wife)

Book 3, The Unexpected Wife, will be released on July 25.

Here’s a short video about it:

https://www.facebook.com/carolinewarfield7/videos/924791187669849/

For more about the series and all of Caroline’s books, look here:

https://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/

About the Author

Caroline Warfield grew up in a peripatetic army family and had a varied career (largely around libraries and technology) before retiring to the urban wilds of Eastern Pennsylvania, where divides her time between writing Regency and Victorian Romance, and seeking adventures with her grandson and the prince among men she married.

 

 

 

 

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