He is to dine in Mount Street tomorrow, to be presented to old Lady Stavely, and she has come up from Berkshire particularly to make his acquaintance. Only think how dreadful if he were to fail! No, I daresay there has been no time for a letter to reach you. The thing is that he has offered for Miss Stavely; and although Stavely was very well pleased, and Cressy herself not in the least unwilling, all depends upon old Lady Stavely. You must know that Stavely stands in the most absurd awe of her, and would turn short about if she only frowned upon the match!
He is afraid for his life that she may leave her fortune to his brother, if he offends her. I must say, Kit, it almost makes me thankful I have no fortune! How could I bear it if my beloved sons were thrown into quakes by the very thought of me? But this engagement — how comes it about that Evelyn never so much as hinted at it?
It must have been very sudden, surely? Is Miss Stavely very beautiful? Did he fall in love with her at first sight?
I mean, he has been acquainted with her for — oh, a long time! Three years at least. I never knew him to tumble into love but what he did so after no more than one look. This is not one of his — his flirtations! They danced with wicked mirth, but she said with a very fair He has outgrown such — such follies! And now that he is the head of the family there is the succession to be considered, you know. Why, if any fatal accident were to befall him I should succeed to his room! He would naturally exert himself to the utmost to cut me out. I wonder why that should never before have occurred to me?
Two here was a short silence. She met his look, and heaved a despairing sigh.
Try as I will, I cannot deny that, Kit! To be sure, I thought that when your Papa died I should be able to discharge some of my debts, and be perfectly comfortable, but that was before I understood about jointures. Dearest, did you know that they are nothing but a take-in? No, how should you? But so it is! Which makes one wonder why they should take it into their heads to dun me now that I am a widow, in a much more disagreeable way than ever they did when Papa was alive. It seems quite idiotish to me, besides being so unfeeling! There had been painful interludes which had left Lady Denville in great distress; these had led to coldness, and estrangement, and to a desperate policy of concealment.
False Colours by Georgette Heyer - AbeBooks
The Earl had been a man of upright principles, but he was not a warm-hearted man, and his mind was neither lively nor elastic. He was fifteen years older than his wife, and he belonged as much by temperament as by age to a generation of rigid. He had only once allowed his feelings to overcome his judgement, when he had succumbed to the charm of the lovely Lady Amabel Cliffe, lately enlarged from the schoolroom to become the rage of the ton, and had offered for her hand in marriage.
Her father, the Earl of Baverstock, was the possessor of impoverished estates and a numerous progeny, and he had accepted the offer thankfully. But the very qualities which had fascinated Denville in the girl offended him in the wife, and he set himself to the task of eradicating them. His efforts were unsuccessful, and resulted merely in imbuing her with a dread of incurring his displeasure.
She remained the same loving, irresponsible creature with whom he had become infatuated; but she lavished her love on her twin sons, and did her best to conceal from her husband the results of her imprudence. The twins adored her. She played with them, laughed with them, sorrowed with them, forgave them their sins, and sympathized with them in their dilemmas: they could perceive no fault in her, and directed their energies, as they grew up, to the task of protecting her from the censure of their formidable father.
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Mr Fancot, therefore, was neither surprised nor shocked to discover that his mother was encumbered by debt. Just how does the land lie? Well, dearest, how can one remember everything one has borrowed for years and years? Indeed, I had the intention of being perfectly open with him!
Book Review: False Colours by Georgette Heyer
But if I had known that my wretched affairs would fall upon Evelyn I must have plucked up my courage to the stickingpoint, and disclosed the whole to him. It should have been a matter between you and my father. Evelyn cannot discharge them! Not that I mean to say he would wish to, for however volatile your father believed him to be, he has no such intention!
And I must say, Kit, I consider it was most unjust of Papa to have left everything in that uncomfortable way, telling your uncle Henry that he had done so because Evelyn was as volatile as I am! For he never knew about the two worst scrapes Evelyn was in, because you brought him off from his entanglement with that dreadful harpy who got her claws into him when you both came down from Oxford — and how you did it, Kit, I have long wanted to know!
I sold my diamond necklace, and your papa knew nothing whatsoever about it! She smiled brilliantly upon him. It looks just as well, and what should I care for diamonds when one of my sons was on the rocks?
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I told him about it afterwards, and I assure you he made not the least objection! And what of his son? But you know what a wretched memory I have!
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Dearest, do, pray, stop being frivolous! You must have read that hateful Will! I know I thought my father need not have fixed on thirty as the proper age: twenty-five would have You know, Mama, the income is pretty considerable! You must be out of your mind, Kit! When I think of the way he has always disapproved of me, and the rake-down he gave Evelyn, whose debts were nothing compared to mine — Oh, no, no! I had liefer by far put a period to my existence than cast myself on his mercy! He would have imposed the most humiliating conditions on me — condemned me to live the rest of my days in that horrid Dower House at Ravenhurst, very likely!
Or worse! Knowing that Henry, Lord Brumby, considered his charming sister-in-law incorrigible, he could not help feeling that there was some truth in what she said. He could have handled my uncle so much more easily than you could! I never thought to tell him. Well, how was I to guess that nearly every soul I owed money to would suddenly start to dun me, and some of them in the rudest way, too? Not that I should have teased Evelyn with my difficulties when he was already in hot water with Henry on his own account. I hope you know me better than to suppose I should do such a selfish thing as that!
My father never banked with him! As far as he could ascertain from her explanation, it had its sole origin in a substantial loan made to her by the clearly besotted Mr Child. I collect that has something to do with cockfighting: so disgusting and vulgar! Do you know, for a moment — only for a moment! Was it very bad? But tell me! Are you thinking that I should rather have applied to Bonamy Ripple? He was generally supposed to have remained a bachelor for her sake; but since his figure resembled nothing so much as an over-ripe pear, and his countenance was distinguished only by an expression of vacuous amiability and the snuff-stains on his fat cheeks, not even the more determined brewers of scandal-broth could detect anything in his devotion but food for mockery.
The twins, inured to his frequent appearances in Hill Street, accepted him with much the same contemptuous tolerance as they would have felt for an over-fed lap-dog which their mama chose to encourage. As for dunning me to repay him, I am persuaded such a notion never entered his head. He may be absurd, and growing fatter every day, but I have been used to depend on him for years, in all manner of ways!
It has brought it all back to me! That was what made Evelyn go away! What the deuce has Silverdale to say to anything? Something told me the luck was about to turn, and so it might have, if Silverdale would but have played on. Of course he was obliged to redeem your brooch — Silverdale must have expected him to do so! For my part, I consider Silverdale was very well served for having been so quizzy and disobliging about accepting my vowels, but Evelyn said that it was of the first importance to recover the wretched thing before Silverdale discovered that it was only a copy.
It seems to be quite wickedly extravagant of Evelyn to be squandering such a sum on mere trumpery! But only for a moment. He was an intelligent young man, and he almost instantly realized that any such attempt would be a waste of breath. When did Evelyn set forth on this errand? I told you! Ten days ago! Evelyn must have discovered where he was gone to, and decided to follow him. I have been a prey to the most hideous forebodings! He spent one night at Ravenhurst, just as he told me he would; and then he drove to Brighton.
But he returned to Ravenhurst the same day, and stayed the night there. I thought he would do that — in fact, I thought he must have stayed for several days, for he told me that he had matters to attend to at home, and might be absent from London for perhaps as much as a sennight. But he left Ravenhurst the very next morning, and under the most peculiar circumstances! His tone was thoughtful, but not astonished.