Monday, 27 May 2013

His Unusual Governess

‘What was so important that you summoned me here?’ Lord Rupert Myers arched a languid eyebrow at the Marquis of Merrivale. ‘’Tis an unseasonable hour and I was up late last night.’ He smothered a yawn and levelled an elegant gold rimmed eyeglass at the older man. Seeing that the marquis looked strained, he dropped the air of boredom and said in a very different tone, ‘What may I do for you, sir?’

‘Good grief, sir,’ his uncle said looking at a coat that had so many capes it made Rupert’s broad shoulders look positively menacing. ‘Where did you get that monstrosity?’

‘Uncle!’ Devilish blue eyes mocked him. ‘My feelings are deeply lacerated. Don’t you know I’m a very tulip of fashion? I dare say at least six young idiots have copied this cape only this week for I saw Harrad’s boy wearing one with nine capes and this has only seven.’

‘More fool him,’ the marquis grunted. ‘Sit down m’boy. You make me feel awkward towering over me like an avenging dervish. What happened to the eager young fellow I saw off to war six years ago?’

‘I dare say he grew up, sir,’ Rupert replied carelessly but there were shadows in his eyes as he sat in the chair opposite and his mouth lost its smile. He did not care to be reminded of that time for the memories were too painful. ‘Is something bothering you?’

‘I fear it is,’ the marquis said. ‘I’m in somewhat of a pickle, m’boy – and I’m hoping you’ll sort me out.’

‘Anything to oblige. I do not forget that you stood as a father to me when my own…’ blue fire flashed in bitter regret for the late Lord Myers had been a rogue and a cheat and had brought his family almost to the edge of ruin. That Rupert had been able to save himself and his sister from disgrace was in large part due to this man. ‘No, I will not go down that road. Tell me what you wish, sir, and if it is in within my power I shall do it.’

‘It’s Lily’s children,’ the marquis said with a heavy sigh. ‘You know my daughter’s story, Rupert. She would marry that wastrel. I warned her that he would run through her fortune and break her heart. She wouldn’t listen and he did all that and more – he killed her.’

‘You can’t be sure of that, sir.’

‘He drove her out into the rain that night. Her maid told me of the quarrel between them. Scunthorpe broke her heart and she stayed out all night in the rain. You know what happened next…’

Rupert nodded for he did know only too well. Lily Scunthorpe had died of a fever, leaving a daughter of six years and a son of three, but that had been more than ten years previously and he could not see what the urgency was now.

‘You took the children when Scunthorpe deserted them, installed them in Cavendish Park with a governess, tutor and the requisite servants – what has happened to throw you into a fit of the blue devils?’

‘The governess and tutor both gave notice last month. I’ve tried to find replacements but with very little success. I fear my niece and nephew have acquired a reputation for being difficult. I have managed to find a woman who is prepared to take them both on – I suspect because she has no choice – but I’m not sure she’ll stay above a few days.’ Merrivale cleared his throat. ‘They need a firm hand, Rupert. I fear I’ve spoiled them. If I read them a lecture they would apologise sweetly and then go straight back to their old ways. Would it be too much to ask you to stand as mentor to them for a while? The boy may go to college at the end of the year and the girl…well, she ought to have a season next spring, but I fear I shall find it hard to secure the services of a woman influential enough to give them a good start.’

‘Play bear-leader to a girl on the edge of her comeout and a rebellious youth. Good grief, uncle! Have your wits gone begging? I’m hardly a role model for either of them. Besides being a tulip of fashion I’m a notorious rake – or hadn’t you heard?’

Merrivale ran nervous fingers through his white hair. ‘I know you have your mistress but I’m not suggesting you should take her with you to Cavendish.’

‘Thank you for small mercies,’ Rupert said, the light of mockery in his eyes once more. ‘She would take it as an invitation to marry me. Annais is too greedy for her own good. I have been looking for an excuse to finish the affair and I suppose one is as good as another… she has no love of the country.’

‘Do you mean you will do it?’ A look of such relief entered the marquis’s eyes that Rupert laughed outloud. ‘I should be so grateful, m’boy.’

‘I’ll do what I can for them,’ Rupert said. ‘But I must have a free hand. Discipline is never popular and I dare say one or the other will write and complain of my high handed behaviour or some such thing.’

‘Lily was very precious to me and her children are all I have left – apart from you, m’boy. Francesca is very like her mother but I think the boy may be more like his father. I hope John won’t turn out to be a rogue like Captain Scunthorpe – but that is why he needs a firm hand now, to knock him into shape a little before he goes to college. I suppose I should have sent him earlier, but I preferred to educate them at home – some of those schools are very harsh to boys, you know.’

‘We’ve all suffered at the hands of bullies at school,’ Rupert said. ‘John needs to learn to stand up for himself. I could teach him to box, gentleman’s rules – and perhaps fencing lessons. I’m not sure about the girl, but perhaps the governess will be what she needs.’

‘I pray she will be suitable. Her references from Lady Mary Winters were good but Lady Mary’s daughter was leaving for finishing school in France so she may just have wanted to get the woman off her hands.’

‘How old is this governess and what is her name?’

‘She’s in her late twenties I think and a sensible woman. Her name is Miss Hester Goodrum and she teaches the pianoforte as well as French, literature and needlework.’

‘Miss Goodrum?’ Rupert nodded. She sounded sensible enough, though her skills were limited. ‘I’m not sure what help she would be to John. He needs rather more than that – but for the next six months he shall have the benefit of my knowledge, such as it is.’

‘Not sure what you mean?’ the marquis looked puzzled. ‘I thought you would just run an eye over them, give them both a lecture and then pop in once in a while?’

‘I hardly think that would do much good, sir.’ Rupert arched his right eyebrow. ‘I’ve been feeling jaded for a while and this sounds like a challenge. I shall reside at Cavendish Park until the boy goes to college and by then you will have found someone to take Francesca on I imagine'.

    This is my latest Regency from Mills & Boon. As Linda Sole I put a short Regency titled Mary's Sacrifice up at amazon and this has been in the top 100 for nearly two months, going as high as 19 but normally mid list.  I have now put another in the Regency Romp series up  - Captain Havers & the Abandoned Bride.   Anyone who liked Captain Havers in Mary's Sacrifice will enjoy this.   Happy reading!  Love from Linda/Anne

No comments:

Post a Comment