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The Sad Fate of Chunee

Editorial comment from S. Clemens

No one in London can be unfamiliar with the circumstances of the death of one of our most beloved and renowned citizens, the elephant Chunee, who Wednesday last met his fatal end at the Exeter Change in such a barbarous manner that many were moved to write letters on his behalf. The Tattler has learned the identity of one lady of quality, whose letter we reprint here. While we must applaud the lady’s sentiments on behalf of this noble creature, we must also wonder if so outspoken a young woman as Lady Emily Radstock will ever find a husband among the gentry and nobility of England. Rumor has it that she is one of the financial backers of Sir Arthur Broome’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Sir Arthur currently resides in Marshalsea Prison for debt.

Chunee

Sir:

The facts in the death of Chunee are so well known as to need no recounting. Thousands in London have seen the prints of his cruel slaughter. His agony at the hands of those on whom he long depended for his sustenance and whose pockets were lined with the proceeds of exhibiting him to the public is indefensible.

His handlers’ inability to consider his needs and to foresee a time when distress of body and spirit would render him a danger to himself and others and to plan accordingly for his care and ultimately for his end brings into question the fitness of human persons for keeping any wild animals in captivity, confined against their nature in cages, to be stared at by the masses with no freedom to act in accord with the promptings of their natures.

It is time to close the Exeter Change and all similar institutions whose indifference to the well-being of their charges is a stain on the honor of our city.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

E. Radstock

About the Book: The Spy’s Guide to Seduction

Weeks from her twenty-ninth birthday, Lady Emily Radstock receives from her mother a little blue book, The Husband Hunter’s Guide to London. Outraged at her mother’s attempt to push her out of the nest, Emily declares she’ll marry the first imbecile she meets. Overhearing the beautiful heiress, Baronet Sir Ajax Lynley, newest gentleman spy in the Pantheon Club, takes her at her word. From the moment their engagement begins, Emily finds herself intrigued by her fiancé, a man who encourages her daring and who offers a most seductive partnership in spy-catching. When mounting danger and an uncanny echo of his painful past lead Lynley to abandon the partnership, Emily has to put aside the hurt and humiliation of a missing fiancé to save her partner in spying and seduction. A 2019 Library Journal Top Pick in Romance.

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About the Author

Kate Moore taught English lit to generations of high school students, who are now her Facebook friends, while she not-so-secretly penned Romances. In Kate’s stories an undeniable mutual attraction brings honorable, edgy loners and warm, practical women into a circle of love in Regency England or contemporary California. A Golden Heart, Golden Crown, and Book Buyers Best award winner and three-time RITA finalist, Kate lives north of San Francisco with her surfer husband, their yellow Lab, toys for visiting grandkids, and miles of crowded bookshelves.

Kate@KateMooreAuthor.com

www.facebook.com/KateMooreAuthor

www.katemoore.com

Scandal on the Streets of Headstone, Arizona

Our devoted readers will no doubt find this clipping forwarded to The Teatime Tattler from The Headstone Gazette across the pond. Obviously, concerned citizens and devotion to proper behavior are not limited to here in London. — S. Clemens

Dear Ms. Decorum:

I’m penning this letter out of the utmost concern for the wellbeing and safety of our latest young debutante from Boston who arrived into Headstone yesterday. Lord have mercy, if the lovely Miss Daisy Danvers wasn’t thronged by a posse of train robbers the moment she set foot on the train platform! One witness claimed she fainted dead away and toppled straight over the side of the platform.

I’ve yet to verify the details, but another witness claims she was caught in the arms of none other than Prescott Barra, the rough and ready local bull rider who set a previously-unheard-of, 10-second record at our last rodeo. And you know what they say about those Barra brothers? Nothing but trouble, that’s what!

What’s worse about this report is the most unfortunate fact that Daisy hasn’t been seen since Prescott rode off with her on his horse yesterday. The very notion of them being lost in the desert — without a chaperone, no less — is giving me the vapors right this second. Oh, where are my smelling salts?

I did a little digging on my own and discovered that Daisy was sent to Headstone by the reputable Boomtown Mail Order Brides Company in Boston, which can only mean one thing: She is under contract as a mail-order bride to some gentleman in our town. Our very town, dear citizens! I’m not certain how reputable the name of this bridal agency will remain when they discover one of their brides is missing. The poor gel could be anywhere. Oh, the horrors! Is she safe? Is she alive? I can hardly bear to consider the possibilities.

Scandal in Arizona

Even if Daisy Danvers is returned to town whole and in one piece — may the good Lord let it be so! — I am distressed to be the one to point out that her reputation will be in shreds. The way I see it, the lovely Miss Daisy will only have one choice to salvage those shreds. Regardless of whom she is currently affianced to (may the Lord comfort him and send him another, more suitable bridal candidate), it is my Christian belief that Miss Daisy has been thoroughly compromised by Prescott Barra. Alas, he is the man she must marry.

I’ll be joining a group of God-fearing women who will be holding vigil on the steps of the General Store this afternoon. It is my hope and prayer they will have an update on this brewing scandal. Be assured I will report back with anything new I hear.

Sincerely, A Concerned Citizen Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous

Scandal in Arizona

About the Book

Dare-Devil Daisy: Mail Order Brides Rescue #5

To the world, Daisy Danvers is a spoiled young debutante from Boston who always gets what she wants. But she has secrets — big, festering secrets she doesn’t want her best friend, Meg Nicholson, to find out. All she needs from Meg is a promise to help her find the perfect husband the moment she steps off the train in Headstone, Arizona. Her very life might depend upon it.

She never dreamed her troubles would follow her out West, and a whole posse of armed robbers would be waiting for her when she disembarked. She also never dreamed a cocky cowboy would sweep her away to safety on his horse.

It’s way too bad the devilishly handsome Prescott Barra claims he’s already affianced to another woman, because he’s everything she’s been looking for in a husband. He’s brave and fearless with a streak of adventure as wide as the canyons they’re riding. When she discovers he has a secret or two of his own, she begins to hope that maybe — just maybe — their secrets will lead them to each other.

Available in eBook on Amazon + FREE in Kindle Unlimited at
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07W61WBRR  
Coming soon to paperback!

An Excerpt~

The storm swirling across Meg’s features cleared. She stood and held out both hands to him. “You dear, dear man! I am so happy you’ve agreed to help me.”

That made one of them. He was fairly certain pretending to be engaged to Meg’s dearest friend was the most foolish thing he’d ever been asked to do.

“I’ll be sure to tell Shad how kind you were to me in his absence.”

Right. He was only doing this to help out a man he respected. Or at least the friend of the wife of a man he respected… Which was the same thing, wasn’t it? His brain hurt just thinking about it.

“What is her name?” he asked abruptly. He at least deserved to know the name of the chit he was going to be saddled with for a few days.

“Daisy.” Meg beamed at him. “Daisy Danvers, though some folks like to call her Dare-Devil Daisy.”

Blast it all! Helping Daisy sounded like a pack of trouble. Then again, he was a Barra brother. Trouble followed him everywhere he went. Trouble was his middle name.

About the Author

Jo Grafford writes sweet historical and contemporary romance stories — with humor, sass, and happily ever afters.

A typical day finds her with her laptop balanced on her knees, a fizzy beverage within reach, and a cat snoozing on her knees. He takes credit for most of what she does.

When Jo’s not writing stories, she’s reading them. She adores dashing gentlemen, resilient heroines with a sense of adventure, humorous sidekicks, dusty cowboys, bounty hunters, mail order brides…you get the idea.

She loves to visit with readers in her Cuppa Jo Readers group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/CuppaJoReaders/.

To receive a personal email about each book she publishes, join her New Release Email List at JoGrafford.com or follow her on BookBub at https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jo-grafford.

Plus you can read free chapters of many of her books on Wattpad.com/user/JoGrafford.

Scandal in Virginia

Excerpt from The New Hope Enterprise

Dec. 29, 1863

It is a sad day indeed when we are forced to communicate such news as follows, but it is our duty to bring you even the most scandalous incidents…even if they involve one of the most highly regarded residents of our region—the venerated war hero, Colonel Johnathon P. Wescott.

Mrs. Charlotte Tisdale, a well-respected resident of New Hope reported the following, and we relay it now to you. It seems that an impromptu gala was thrown together at Lacewood by Colonel Wescott’s men, who were given leave by their beloved commander to take part in Christmas Eve festivities. It was late at night before Colonel Wescott left his post on the battlefield, but he finally appeared at Lacewood, looking as gallant and intrepid as ever such a highly esteemed man can look.

Of course, those in attendance at Lacewood included all of the eligible young ladies from the region who hoped to catch a glimpse—or perhaps even a dance—with the widowed father.

Scandal Virginia

Dear readers, here is the news of which I warned you. It has been reported to us by Mrs. Tisdale (and others) that the Colonel danced the night away—not with one of the highly regarded Southern belles in attendance—but with the Yankee caretaker of his young daughter!

Yes, friends, if you live in New Hope, you know the sad story. The poor child was left motherless by the passing of his wife almost a year ago, and now the sweet darling has been left in the hands of a stranger whose reputation and character are known to us only by the gossip that trickles in by attentive neighbors.

However, we know all we need to know. Mrs. Tisdale confirmed that this woman, this Yankee she-devil, hails from New York and has a brother in the Union army. Yes, you read that correctly. A brother…In the Union Army.

Wishing to verify these rumors—which are obviously too absurd and preposterous to be accepted on their face, we discovered that the news gets even worse. It seems Miss Annie Logan (the caretaker) placed herself beneath the mistletoe when Colonel Wescott was near, and, of course, being a Southern gentlemen of the highest order, he felt obligated to satisfy the tradition that has been handed down for centuries.

My own face reddens at the thought of this conniving kiss. Who knows what else has transpired between the walls of Lacewood? We can only hope that it will not stain the character of its occupants for generations to come…

About the Book

Two people trying to escape their pasts find a connection through an old house—and fulfill a destiny through the secrets it shares. Part love story, part ghost story, Lacewood is a timeless novel about trusting in fate, letting of the past, and believing in things that can’t be seen.

MOVING TO A SMALL TOWN in Virginia is a big change for New York socialite Katie McCain. But when she stumbles across an abandoned 200-year-old mansion, she’s enthralled by the enduring beauty of the neglected estate—and captivated by the haunting portrait of a woman in mourning.

Purchasing the property on a whim, Katie attempts to fit in with the colorful characters in the town of New Hope, while trying to unravel the mystery of the “widow of Lacewood.” As she pieces together the previous owner’s heartrending story, Katie uncovers secrets the house has held for centuries, and discovers the key to coming to terms with her own sense of loss.

Sometimes love is just too powerful for one lifetime…

The past and present converge when hometown hero Will Durham returns and begins his own healing process by helping the “city girl” restore the place that holds so many memories. As the mystic web of destiny is woven, a love story that might have been lost forever is exposed, and a destiny that has been waiting in the shadows for centuries is fulfilled.

Take advantage of the low launch-week price of only $3.99, and sign up for the author’s newsletter at https://www.jessicajamesbooks.com.

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An Excerpt

December 1863

“I think Jon has finally broken away from the ladies,” Luke said at last. “Here he comes.”

Annie turned and watched with an incredible degree of composure as Colonel Wescott strode toward her with calm detachment, pinioning her where she stood with his devouring stare. A strange sensation throbbed in her then—like the beating of a new heart—and she marveled at its power to fluster and confuse.

When he reached her he stopped, but his caressing gaze continued to play across her face. “You are aware of the tradition, I suppose.”

Colonel Wescott’s voice, Annie had learned, could be penetrating and commanding, or gentle and kind. He could easily silence an entire roomful of people without yelling or losing control—and could just as effortlessly melt her heart with the tender tones of a father.

The tenor tonight was both warm and imposing, throwing her off balance. Her eyes darted around, not understanding his meaning. “Tradition?”

He merely gestured to a place over her head, his smile widening as she took in the swag of mistletoe hanging above her.

Grasping Luke’s ruse that had placed her in this spot, Annie transferred her gaze to Luke just as he was exchanging a mischievous wink with his brother. Even Miss Benton was now brimming over with amusement.

“Do you need schooling in the ritual?” Colonel Wescott’s tone was businesslike, but the sentiment on his face was not. It reflected a playfulness, a cheerful joviality that was both infatuating and intimidating. He’d never crossed this line of familiarity with her before—and Annie was fairly sure he’d not done so with others, even those he considered close friends.

She wanted to pretend an affront, but when faced with his appealing smile her defenses melted away. Candlelight and music filled the air, exaggerating and intensifying the intoxication of her senses. Laughter and conversation blended and blurred until nothing existed but the man before her, whose smoldering eyes beckoned seductively.

About the Author

Jessica James is an award-winning author of romantic suspense, historical fiction, and Christian fiction, who combined all of her favorite things to create Lacewood.

Her new release is a multi-era, small town, clean, inspirational novel that melds together elements of mystery, history, and romance.

As someone who lives in a 200-year-old house, Jessica was intrigued when thinking about the generations of people who occupied the same home. Lacewood gives readers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what took place in an old neglected Southern mansion before two people from the modern world stumble across it and into each other. It’s a love story that spans centuries, taking readers on a journey into the past as the house reveals secrets about a long-lost love affair.

You can find her here:

Website

Amazon Author Page

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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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