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 Two Excerpt 5 continued…
March 1814 – An Exchange of Confidences
Avebury, Wiltshire, England
After spending more than a se’nnight in one another’s company, Georgina began winning Abigail’s trust, and a friendship developed between the two young ladies. They often went into the village on some pretext to collect items such as fresh ink and parchment for Mr Morton. And they were frequently to be seen in the book shop, browsing through the latest editions of novels sent over from Marlborough.
It was during one of these visits that Georgina was questioned by Mrs Blagden about Abigail. Mrs Blagden was the village gossip, and took great delight in knowing everyone’s business.
“Good morning, Georgina,” Mrs Blagden nodded her head in greeting. “So nice to see you.”
Georgina curtsied, and Abigail followed suit.
“And it’s lovely to see you too, Mrs Blagden. We thought we would take advantage of the fine weather and enjoy a stroll.”
"Yes, it is always pleasant to call at the vicarage, is it not?” Mrs Blagden replied with a smile. “The vicar’s wife offers a delicious tea. Wonderful cakes and sweetmeats. But who is ‘we’, Georgina? You must introduce me to your pretty new friend, for I’m sure we have not met before.”
Abigail did indeed look extremely attractive today.
Pettit and elegant, she wore one of Georgina’s dresses, and her curly hair, the shade of light-coloured corn, framed her face charmingly beneath a straw bonnet.
In her hasty flight from her cousin’s abode, Abigail had left Bath with only two carpet bags as luggage―neither of which, in Georgina’s opinion, had contained clothing suited for country life in rural Avebury.
Three evening dresses had been packed. One was adorned with black pearl droplets and a delicate cream lace frill. There was also a ball gown, edged with a sparkling glass bead trim, and several pairs of matching dance slippers; all of which Abigail had considered essential until London was reached and a decent dressmaker could be found.
However, Georgina, realising none of these items could be worn with any great comfort about the house or on walks into the village, had offered Abigail the use of several dresses she no longer wore.
Mrs Blagden was still patiently waiting for an introduction and there was an awkward moment of silence as Georgina realised she had yet to discover Abigail’s full name.
And she couldn’t make the introductions without knowing it. Could she?
Georgina decided to keep things simple. The less she told Mrs. Blagden, the less likelihood something would be revealed that ought not to be.
Catching a look of fear in Abigail’s eyes, Georgina realised Abigail was also worried her identity would be discovered.
Linking arms with her new friend, Georgina smiled confidently. “Abigail has been staying with us for some time. I’m surprised you have not met before. Dear Papa says she is just the thing for me. A tonic. And she has brightened my spirits enormously. I was feeling quite low and out of sorts until Abigail came to Avebury. The winter months are so confining, do you not think so, Mrs Blagden? But now that spring is almost here, it’s as if a weight has been lifted. I do so love the sunshine―do you not?”
Mrs Blagden was led off on a tangent. And after the merits of the weather and the seasons were discussed at length, Georgina and Abigail politely took their leave as soon as they could, without causing offence.
Throughout this encounter, the secret of Abigail’s identity had been maintained.
“Thank you, Georgina,” said Abigail with immense relief. They were out of earshot of Mrs Blagden, and the anxiety of the moment was over. “Now I know I can trust you. You are indeed a true friend, and I’m grateful beyond words for everything you have done for me. You could so easily have told Mrs. Blagden you had no idea who I am, and that we have only just become acquainted. Not many people would lie for me and keep my secret.”
Georgina shook her head and said, “But I did not lie. I just never told Mrs. Blagden the whole truth, because it’s a fact…I don’t know your real identity.”
When the two of them realised just how incredulous this sounded, they burst into a fit of girlish giggles.
“Oh, Georgina, you have been so good and kind to me. You have truly become my dearest of friends.”
“And I believe you too have indeed become a friend of mine. One that I shall value when this is all over and you have at last told me who you really are.”
“One day I promise it will happen. But for now, would you mind terribly if I stayed at Rose Hill a little longer? Just until it’s safe for me to contact my Great Aunt Wilhelmina and tell her what has happened. I’m sure she would be willing to collect me when the time is right. It’s just that I fear, if I try to reach her now, someone...someone who I do not wish to name, might find me and take me back to Bath. And that is something I do not desire, at all.”
Georgina realised Abigail was just a young person finding her way in life, and knowing this, she was willing to help, and if need be, offer what little guidance she could.
“Of course, you can stay with us.” Georgina said. “We love having you here. It makes a change to have someone to talk to about things other than books and politics, which is generally all my father will discuss with me. So, yes, I would love for you to be at Rose Hill until you need to leave. But I hope you realise your leaving must happen sometime.”
“I know I need to leave at some point but hopefully not yet.”
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Any names or characters have no existence outside the imagination of the
author or are used fictitiously, and actual events are purely coincidental.
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Copyright © 2019 by – Arabella Sheen
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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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