A Useful Woman by Darcie Wilde EPUB & PDF – eBook Details
- Author: Darcie Wilde
- Language: English
- Formats: PDF / EPUB
- Status: Available For Free Download
- Series: None
- Price: Free
- File Size: 1 MB
The Little Scandals of the Little Season
The lady patronesses of Almack’s . . . carried matters—to say
with a high hand seems almost inadequate—shall I write, with
a clenched fist?
—E. Beresford Chancellor, The Annals of Almack’s
LONDON, FEBRUARY 15, 1817
“Are you sure we may expect callers this early?” asked Mrs. Kendricks.
Rosalind Thorne smiled up at her housekeeper. She was breakfasting in
her parlor with the small table drawn up close to the coal fire. In addition to
providing extra warmth, this arrangement allowed her to surreptitiously toast
bits of muffin on her fork. Rosalind made sure she’d eaten the evidence of
this unladylike occupation before ringing the bell.
“They will be here,” she told Mrs. Kendricks firmly. “I expect we’ll be
seeing Miss Littlefield first, followed by Mr. Faulks. I have laid the most
tempting bait possible in front of them. Power is about to change hands. The
world will not wait for polite visiting hours to discover the details.” Courtesy
dictated that morning visitors did not present themselves before eleven
o’clock, but the church bells, which tolled solemnly outside the frosted
windows, declared it had just gone on nine.
“Well, that should make for a busy season after all.”
“Indeed it will, Mrs. Kendricks, if we’re lucky. I trust we are ready to
“Of course, miss.” Mrs. Kendricks was a thin, dark woman with severe
eyes and narrow, calloused hands. Her long years in service had erased the
element of surprise from her being, and taken a goodly portion of her ability
to smile with it. “The coffee is ready, and I’ve baked some of my ginger
biscuits as well.”
* * *
Rosalind had no time for further remarks, for at that moment the doorbell
jangled, not once, but four times. She and Mrs. Kendricks exchanged a
knowing glance before the housekeeper departed to open the door for the
Or visitors. It was possible that Alice Littlefield had met Sanderson
Faulks on the way to Little Russell Street. Gentleman that he was, Mr. Faulks
would surely offer Alice a ride in his well-sprung and—more importantly—
warm carriage. Winter had clamped down hard this year, and London’s
streets were ankle deep in snow and frozen mud.
Rosalind folded her newspaper beside the large stack of her
correspondence and stood to receive her early callers.
Upon first impression, Rosalind Thorne was often considered either
striking or imperious. Unusually tall, she possessed the figure and bearing of
a grand dame from a previous era—statuesque, confident, and thoroughly
poised, despite the modesty of both her surroundings and her made-over blue
dress with its sparse lace trim. Although her rich golden hair had been called
her finest asset, she habitually wore it in a severe knot at the nape of her
neck. Her wide-set blue eyes, on the other hand, were considered generally
unremarkable, except for the unsettlingly direct way they had of looking at a
person, any person, of any rank.
“Cold” was another word frequently applied to Rosalind Thorne.
As such, she was as much of a contrast to the persons who entered her
diminutive parlor as they were to each other. Pretty, brisk, tiny, and dark,
Alice Littlefield breezed into the room, and straight up to Rosalind.
“I am not speaking to you!” Alice announced. “You’ve been keeping
secrets and I’m quite put out!” Despite this declaration, she kissed Rosalind
soundly on the cheek.
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