Special to the Teatime Tattler from Eunice Norton and the Monday Tea Circle of Ashmead on Afan.
We gathered as is our habit on Monday afternoon to review the news of the week here in the valley, and ran so far over our time that Bessy Grigg’s husband took umbrage at the delay in his supper. We had much to discuss.
The Benson family put up an entertainment for all and sundry at the Assembly Rooms on Saturday evening to celebrate old Robert’s sixtieth birthday. There were many who thought that appropriate, him being a fixture in the village, but some of us questioned use of the large room over the village offices for a family party, that space having run to shabby and disrepair in recent years, and the Benson family being in possession of a inn with a perfectly fine dining room, but Emma Corbin—she as was Emma Benson—insisted.
Most of us admitted she did the rooms justice. New paint. Waxed floors. Clean windows. Flowers sprucing it up, and greenery too for all it is summer and not Christmas. She even got that Welsh colonel staying at the inn—him who is some engineer they say—to repair the musicians gallery so it was safe to use. They brought some group of players down from Nottingham, too, for the dancing.
As you may expect every man and woman in Ashmead came, and the tenant farmers from round about as well. Some seemed to find children appropriate, notably the Corbins, but most of us don’t approve of little ones where there is drink and dancing. A bigger surprise was the arrival of the Duchess of Glenmoor, Lady Madelyn Caulfield that was. She rarely socializes with common folk and keeps to herself since the old duke she married died.
Of course, most folk came for a glimpse of Wee Robbie Benson himself, the innkeepers wild son gone these many years. Went off to war and came back a baronet. Emma Corbin claims he was a hero at Waterloo, too. Now he’s come to take ownership of Willowbrook, left to him by the old earl. Most folks claim they always knew he was the earl’s get. You only had to look at him to know, but don’t tell old Robert the innkeeper that. Took him as his own and won’t hear otherwise.
The biggest news was the arrival of the Earl of Clarion himself late into the evening. Come up from London straight to the assembly, though no one knows whether it was the only reason he came. Walked in proud as a lord—which of course he is—walked up and congratulated old Robert as bold as you please as if the innkeeper was a peer when everyone knows he started life as a footman at the Hall.
Then Wee Robbie came from the corner he’d been lurking in. When he stood next to the earl and the duchess stood to join them, you could hear a pin drop. Same eyes. Same hair. Same tall frame (though Robbies is a bit, er, sturdier than the earl.) Same proud tilt to the head. Folks in London ought to be aware that the man they know as Sir Robert Benson is naught but an innkeeper’s charity case and the Earl of Clarion’s bastard brother. No question about it. Don’t know what was said, but Sir Robert left right after.
The earl stayed. He even led Emma Corbin out, and she looked like she was going to burst. Then the duchess danced with that Welsh colonel. It was certainly a night to remember.
About the Book
When the Earl of Clarion leaves a will with bequests for all his children, legitimate and not, listing each and their mothers by name, he complicates the lives of many in the village of Ashmead.
One sleepy village. One scandalous will. Four beleaguered heirs.
One is The Wayward Son.
Rob Benson returns to Ashmead reluctantly, determined to stay briefly. He never expects a shocking bequest and a termagant with flashing eyes—and a musket—to bind him to the place. Lucy Whitaker wants what she can’t have, Willowbrook. If she must turn it over to the heir, she can at least make sure he loves it and its people like she does. His life is London; hers is Ashmead. How can they forge something lasting when they are torn in two directions?
Pre-order link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09484DC1D/
Watch for the duchess and the colonel in The Defiant Daughter in October.
About the Author
Caroline Warfield, proud Bluestocking Belle, has been many things: traveler, librarian, poet, raiser of children, bird watcher, Internet and Web services manager, conference speaker, indexer, tech writer, genealogist—even a nun. She 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 British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.