“Why did you stop me telling Charis about the Earl of Wayford?” Matilda demanded, as soon as Charis was out of earshot. “She clearly has no idea…”
Eugenie smirked. “Exactly. She has no idea. Just think what a delightful surprise it will be for her when the Earl actually turns up to claim his bride!”
Matilda frowned, puzzled. She could work absolute magic with a needle, but she sometimes had to have plots explained to her. It was not that she was stupid, it was just that she was straightforward and honest, so Eugenie had to be devious enough for them both. Eugenie didn’t mind; that was, after all, what a twin was for.
Eugenie didn’t exactly mind, either, that Charis, who was two years older than the twins, walked around with her head in one of her books, and ignored the family’s dire straits and the measures needed to save them. That was just Charis. She had always been that way, preferring her own company to playing with the twins, and regarding fashion, gossip, and the twins’ other interests with a kind of bewildered disdain.
She was extremely cross that Mother had accepted a proposal on her behalf.
“Are you not delighted that Charis is the one to find a rich husband to save the family?” Eugenie asked Matilda. “You and I will be much freer to choose. Someone comfortably placed, of course, but how lovely that Mama will be able to depend on Charis!”
Matilda nodded. “Of course I am pleased. But Eugenie, shouldn’t we tell Charis…”
“Definitely not. After what she has put us through this season? Besides, if she had told mother she was meeting someone when she wandered off next door, she might have learned the truth much earlier. Nothing good comes of lying to one’s mother!”
Matilda burst out laughing. “Eugenie Fishingham, you are a complete card. You and I have been lying to Mother ever since we followed Charis weeks ago, and saw whom she was meeting. Not to mention…”
“Let’s not mention,” Eugenie said, hastily. She would be far more prone to falsehoods if she did not fear that Matilda would blurt them out at the first opportunity. She reminded herself that really was lucky to have such an honest twin.
“I suppose we can always tell Charis tomorrow,” Matilda decided. “Shall we go up to our room, dearest? I, for one, do not wish to return to the parlour to hear Mother berating Charis for refusing this wonderful opportunity.
Charis is the heroine of The Beast Next Door, a novella in Valentines from Bath. See our project page for more about the book.