The Teatime Tattler
Fleet Street, London
I don’t know if you can use this, but one of the Jarratt & Martinson tea clippers is leaving Macao in the morning. I’m coming back to London, but I can’t afford the clipper so I’m sending this ahead. It’ll get there faster. You know that favor I owed you? Consider it paid.
Your hunch was right. The Duke of Sudbury’s cub wheedled his way into the East India Company Factory in Canton. By all accounts, the worthless oaf spent more time prowling the flower boats where they provide all the delights he chased in London along with plenty of exotic local depravity tossed in. He either quit the Company or was tossed because he’s supposed to be working for Jarratt, though “work,” may not be what he’s doing. I know you don’t care about politics but Jarratt may be trying to use the pup to get to Sudbury. Bears watching.
Now you owe me because there’s more. It isn’t just the boy that washed up in Macao. A girl followed him—Sudbury’s oldest girl, the uppity one too proud to so much as dance with any gent lower than a duke, the one with the weird Arabic name. Superintendent Eliot and his wife put it out that they’re hosting her on Sudbury’s behalf, but I doubt Sudbury even knows where she is. I saw her myself going in and out of Eliot’s house as swanky and stuck up as ever she was in London, every inch the duke’s daughter, but I heard rumors.
I got myself an invitation to dinner by one of the China traders, Harold McIlroy. It cost me a pretty penny in drinks at the club where they all congregate, but it was worth it. The ladies of Macao dig dirt with the best of them. I got an earful, I can tell you. I don’t see how it can all be true, but where there’s smoke, there has to be at least an ember or two.
Ingram, Dennison, and Dean’s ladies between them told me the girl:
~wears men’s clothes
~escaped torture and worse for her crimes by convincing some big Chinese official to let her off as the ladies said, “in the way of light skirts everywhere.”
~wormed her way into Jarratt’s house with nothing but a Chinese servant. The Dennison woman said Jarratt actually admitted he had his way with her.
~threw herself at the Duke of Murnane, a married man whose “poor abused wife,” lives in a dumpy little house in the native quarter
~uses opium tar
~sneaks into the house at night even with the man’s wife in residence
The Chit has nerve. All Macao knows what she is, but she parades around town while a little servant hops along behind her holding some fancy parasol on a bent handle to keep the sun off her like she’s some short of rajah’s female. I cornered the little weasel, a Chinese boy who looks like at least one Portuguese tomcat got at his great-grandfather’s tabbies. Name’s Filipe. The boy talked about the trollop like she’s the queen herself. Calls her “Lady Zamb.” I think he’s half in love with her. Wouldn’t say a bad word. Talked about her like she’s some kind of saint, and I know for fact she isn’t that. He told me to ask the woman who runs the mission school. One of the Quakers. He had to be lying. I can’t see a prune-faced female missionary tolerating the sort those women at McIlroy’s described.
I’ve had enough of the mission crowd myself. That job my cousin promised in the newspaper here? Turned out to be the mission rag. Can you see me writing for some chapel-goers? They print it at a place they call Zion’s Quarter. Bunch of tea totalers. No thanks. I’m for home.
I hope you can use some of this because I need the money. If you print it you owe me. Just send the cash to Greaves at the Horse and Gander in Southwark. He’ll hold it for me. Sudbury will make your life hell if you do it though. I remember what he did to you years ago when he came back to London after he was trapped by the Barbary corsairs. He had a wife and suspiciously well-developed baby in tow. Wait, wasn’t that the one with the Arabic name? Apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
Don’t let him bully you. This stuff will sell papers.
See you in six months.
About the Book: The Unexpected Wife
Children of Empire Book 3
Crushed with grief after the death of his son, Charles Wheatly, Duke of Murnane throws himself into the new Queen’s service in 1838. When the government sends him on an unofficial fact-finding mission to the East India Company’s enclave in Canton, China, he anticipates intrigue, international tensions, and an outlet for his frustration. He isn’t entirely surprised when he also encounters a pair of troublesome young people that need his help. However, the appearance of his estranged wife throws the entire enterprise into conflict. He didn’t expect to face his troubled marriage in such an exotic locale, much less to encounter profound love at last in the person of a determined young woman. Tensions boil over, and his wife’s scheming—and the beginnings of the First Opium War—force him to act to rescue the one he loves and perhaps save himself in the process.
Zambak Hayden seethes with frustration. A woman her age has occupied the throne for over a year, yet the Duke of Sudbury’s line of succession still passes over her—his eldest—to land on a son with neither spine nor character. She follows her brother, the East India Company’s newest and least competent clerk, to protect him and to safeguard the family honor. If she also escapes the gossip and intrigues of London and the marriage mart, so much the better. She has no intention of being forced into some sort of dynastic marriage. She may just refuse to marry at all. When an old family friend arrives she assumes her father sent him. She isn’t about to bend to his dictates nor give up her quest. Her traitorous heart, however, can’t stop yearning for a man she can’t have.
Neither expects the epic historical drama that unfolds around them.The Unexpected Wife, will be released on July 25.
Here’s a short video about it:
About the Author
Traveler, would-be adventurer, former tech writer and library technology professional, Caroline Warfield has now retired to the urban wilds of Eastern Pennsylvania, and divides her time between writing and seeking adventures with her grandbuddy. In her newest series, Children of Empire, three cousins torn apart by lies find their way home from the far corners of the British Empire, finding love along the way.
She has works published by Soul Mate Publishing and also independently published works. In addition, she has participated in five group anthologies, one not yet published.
For more about the series and all of Caroline’s books, look here: