A Traditional Regency Romance
Can Miss Georgina Morton surrender her independence and accept the Duke’s love?
Miss Georgina Morton, at the age of four-and-twenty, with a modest annual income of four hundred pounds, believes she has no need of a husband and can manage quite nicely without one. Yet within a matter of weeks, she’s betrothed to Giles Glentworth, the Sixth Duke of Westbury, and bound for Regency London.
Set in rural Wiltshire and elegant, fast-paced London...a runaway ward, a shooting at midnight, and a visit to fashionable Almack’s, are only a few of the adventures Georgina enjoys while falling for the Corinthian charms of the Duke.
Chapter One Excerpt 1
March 1814 – The Runaway Ward
Avebury, Wiltshire, England
Miss Georgina Morton placed the basket of eggs she carried on the boundary wall and paused in the act of walking to the vicarage. It was noon, and the south-bound stagecoach, with its heavy load of luggage and boisterous passengers, was arriving at The Red Lion Inn.
Enthralled by the commotion unfolding before her, Georgina watched with interest as the drama evolved.
The coach slowed to enter the inn’s cobblestoned courtyard, and with a sharp tug on the horses’ reins, the coachman brought the vehicle to an abrupt standstill. A swirling veil of dust was left in the stage’s wake, and when the cloud of dry dirt settled, the inn came alive with the sound of bustling people.
Without ceremony, the door to the coach was flung open, and as it slammed hard against the side of the vehicle, a young man, irate with temper and shouting his protests, leapt from the carriage, demanding the postilion’s attention.
“Why have we stopped?” he said. “We must leave…now. I’ve travelled from Bath and it’s essential I reach Marlborough before noon. I must catch the next stage to London and insist we depart from here at once.”
The weary postilion shrugged his shoulders in an uncaring way, and in a broad West Country accent, said, “Young sir, I’m afraid that can’t be done. We’re obliged to stop and rest the horses. We also have to wait for these good people to finish inside the inn.”
With much speed and eagerness, the other travellers on the stage hurriedly disembarked, and vanished through an arched doorway into the tavern.
The postilion, ignoring the young man and his grievances, walked to the horses’ heads and checked the bridles and tack, before inspecting the thick leather straps on the heavy luggage. He was ensuring the passengers trunks and baggage were securely buckled in place prior to the coach’s departure.
The incensed youngster, with his fair curls awry and his attire askew, paced back and forth with impatience.
His annoyance at his unfortunate situation was made known, and it was clear he was in a hurry to be on his way. He demanded of anyone within earshot that the stage changed its route to accommodate the urgency of his journey, but none of his fellow passengers were listening.
Georgina looked on with amusement as the young person flayed his hands in the air and stamped a foot with frustration. All his efforts for a speedy departure were futile. And the postilion, unconcerned for the young traveller’s plight, continued tending the horses.
From where Georgina stood, she could see, through large casement windows, travellers busily eating what they could, before having to leave the turnpike inn. The stage was to stop briefly, and people had only a fleeting chance to benefit from a tankard of ale or a glass of wine before continuing on their travels.
For some, breaking their journey at The Red Lion Inn was a welcome chance to stretch their legs and rest from travelling, but the young sir paid no heed to the needs of his fellow travellers. His concern was wholly for himself and his desire to be on his way.
“I tell you, we must proceed at once,” he again berated the postilion. “There is no time for delay.”
His argument created a commotion, and Georgina, along with several passing villagers, watched on with interest as the furore unfolded.
Another coachman, who was somewhat older and had a mass of curling whiskers, wandered over and joined in with the discussion.
With legs astride and arms akimbo, the coachman, taking matters in hand, said, “Now you listen here, little breeches. Seems my friend, the postilion, ain’t getting his message across. We’re waiting for everyone inside to finish.”
“And I be takin’ no orders from the likes of you. You’re nout but a young ‘un.”
“Fustian! I’m old enough to know what I’m doing, and old enough to know I have to be on my way. I’ve a right to―”
“And I’ve the right to throw anyone from the stage I think might cause trouble. If you ain’t careful, you’ll find yourself stranded.”
“Not if I have any say in the matter,” said the young sir.
Gripping the handle on the carriage door, the young man flung the door open and clambered hastily inside. He then sat with his nose haughtily in the air, and looked out of the carriage window at the affronted faces of the coachman and postilion.
A large crowd had gathered, drawn by the noise the men were making. Curiosity had taken hold and people wanted to know what had happened.
“Out,” said the coachman with rage in his voice. “I said, out!”
Then from the postilion, warning shouts of imminent departure were called. “Stagecoach leaving! Stagecoach leaving!”
Chaos was in the air.
Although curious to know the outcome of the heated discussion, Georgina, with places to be and things to do, lifted her basket off the wall and walked on. It was only on her return journey, having delivered the freshly laid eggs to the vicarage and collected a package for her father from the post-office that she discovered the young man from earlier was still stood outside the inn. He’d not, as she first supposed, continued on his journey.
She also noticed he was not of an age to be called a man, but was in fact, a mere slip of a boy: a young whippersnapper, as her Papa would say.
What little luggage he had was at his feet, and he was alone.
All signs of the stagecoach and its passengers having stopped at the turnpike inn were gone; and there was now a strange, disconcerting silence about the place. The frenzied activity of earlier was no longer.
Even though the young man was dressed in clothes of excellent quality, it was obvious that what he wore, including the tasselled Hessian boots on his feet and the pristine white neckcloth tied stylishly beneath his shirt points, could not belong to him. Everything he wore was several sizes too large and his attire had clearly not been tailored to fit his petite frame.
The young man gingerly approached.
“Excuse me for being so bold.” His eyes were wide with panic. “I find myself to be in somewhat of a predicament.”
The young man was scared and trembled visibly. Something had alarmed him, and he appeared quite distressed.
“And what might that predicament be?” Georgina asked. She wondered what was to come.
Disclaimer, Copyrights and Publishing
Any names or characters have no existence outside the imagination of the
author or are used fictitiously, and actual events are purely coincidental.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, copied,
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Copyright © 2019 by – Arabella Sheen
Published by priceplacebooks
All rights reserved.
About Arabella Sheen
Arabella Sheen is a British author of contemporary romance and likes nothing more than the challenge of starting a new novel with fresh ideas and inspiring characters.
One of the many things Arabella loves to do is to read. And when she’s not researching or writing about romance, she is either on her allotment sowing and planting with the seasons or she is curled on the sofa with a book, while pandering to the demands of her attention-seeking cat.
Having lived and worked in the Netherlands as a theatre nurse for nearly twenty years, she now lives in the south-west of England with her family.
Arabella hopes her readers have as much pleasure from her romance stories as she has in writing them.
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