Tag Archive | The Ultimate Escape

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Are Succulents Really Brown Thumb-Proof?

I suppose I’ve always been somewhat of an indifferent gardener, which may seem like an odd thing for a farmer’s daughter to say. When I did, I was more a vegetable gardener, since growing your own seems the only way to get decent tomatoes. But when my garden became contaminated with some nasty tomato disease, I gave up the garden altogether. In recent years, I’ve even turned over the landscaping to a private company. The only gardening I still do myself is the border around the tree in front of my house and some containers on the porch. They do need watering, however, which is problematic when I’m traveling for long periods of time.

So in January when I saw the lovely succulent plants on QVC and learned that they rarely require watering and are so hardy they can be left out on the porch in the box until time for planting, I was intrigued. Seemed like a no-brainer. I’m a Florida snowbird until mid-May. My two boxes of succulents were mailed to Toledo last week. Will they still be alive when I return? The QVC host practically guaranteed it. I did notice quite a few complaints about them on the website, though. So we’ll see. If not, I will get my money back.

What’s a Succulent?

From thespruce.com:

There are over 10,000 succulent plants, which include cacti. Many are native to South Africa and Madagascar and the Caribbean. Succulent plants have thick, fleshy leaves, stems or roots. This is one of the ways they have adapted to dry conditions by taking advantage of whatever water is available and holding onto it for later use. When full of water, the leaves can appear swollen. When they are becoming depleted, the leaves will begin to look puckered.

Other water conserving features you may find in succulents are narrow leaves, waxy leaves, a covering of hairs or needles, reduced pores, or stomata, and ribbed leaves and stems, that can expand water holding capacity. Their functioning is fascinating, but most are also quite attractive, too. They are perfect for dry climates and periods of drought anywhere, but many are not cold hardy below USDA Zone 9. Even so, they can be grown as annuals or over-wintered indoors. Several make great houseplants. Grow them all year in containers and you can just move the whole thing in when the temperature drops.

My Giveaways

1 random commenter will win this lovely garden-themed charm bracelet and another will win a signed print copy of The Ultimate Escape, Book 1 in my Lady P Chronicles. Book 2, A Home for Helena, turns one year old on March 29, and Lady P and I are celebrating by reducing the price and offering a Rafflecopter contest. All of my contests are international.

A Home for Helena

Believing that she has been misplaced in time, Helena Lloyd travels back two hundred years in an attempt to find out where she belongs.

Widowed father James Walker has no intention of remarrying until he makes the acquaintance of his daughter’s lovely new governess.

Lady Pendleton, a time-traveling Regency lady herself, suspects that these two belong together. First, however, she must help Helena discover her true origins—and hopefully, a home where she belongs.

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About Susana

Susana Ellis has always had stories in her head waiting to come out, especially when she learned to read and her imagination began to soar.

A former teacher, Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and Florida in the winter. She is a member of the Central Florida Romance Writers and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA, Maumee Valley Romance Inc., and is a member of the infamous Bluestocking Belles.

Website: http://www.SusanaEllis.com

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FREE on Kindle: The Ultimate Escape

Gold satin silk fabric closeup texture and background

 

The Ultimate Escape is Book 1 in The Lady P Chronicles, a Regency time travel series.

If you haven’t obtained your copy yet, now is the time! The novella is free on Kindle THIS WEEK ONLY!

On the eve of her wedding, Julia realizes she cannot marry her fiancé after all, no matter that it’s been her dream for eight long years. Too distraught to face him, she follows in her mother’s footsteps and flees to the future for a brief reprieve. Oliver knows he has bungled things badly, but he is determined to win the woman he loves, even if he must travel through time to do it.

FREE ON KINDLE: http://ow.ly/4mZYIP

The Belles’ Holiday Wassailing Tour: Course #4

Welcome to the 4th stop of the

Belles’ Holiday Wassailing Tour!

Lady Pendleton

Lady Pendleton

The time-traveling Lady Pendleton and her family welcome you to Christmas 1811 at the Pendleton estate in Wittersham, East Sussex. Present are: Lady Julia Tate, her eldest daughter; Lady Philippa Bland and her husband George, Viscount Hooper; Lady Sarah Newsome, her husband Sir Henry Newsome, and their two daughters, Emily (2) and Theodora (3 months).

Note: Julia’s sister Lady Sarah and her family feature prominently in the sequel to An Ultimate Escape, which is titled A Home for Helena (available soon).

To win a digital copy of Lost and Found Lady and a lovely perfumed frame and cameo, mention (1)  your favorite Christmas film and (2) the name and title of the hero of Amy Rose Bennett’s story in Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem in the comments below (one random commenter will be chosen). The answer can be found on her post here: http://amyrosebennett.com/the-bluestocking-belles-holiday-wassailing-tour/.

perfumedframe&cameo

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Lady Julia Tate

Lady Julia Tate

Lady Pendleton, her daughter Julia, and Oliver Stanton are characters in The Ultimate Escape, a time travel novella in Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem.

Oliver Stanton

Mr. Oliver Stanton

On the eve of her wedding, Julia realizes she cannot marry her fiancé after all, no matter that it’s been her dream for eight long years. Too distraught to face him, she follows in her mother’s footsteps and flees to the future for a brief reprieve.

Oliver knows he has bungled things badly, but he is determined to win the woman he loves, even if he must travel through time to do it.

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Christmas 1810 had been a sober affair, the Pendletons’ first without their beloved patriarch’s gentle humor. A year later, however, his wife and daughters had recovered from their grief well enough to feel his spiritual presence in their lives.

“Remember how Papa loved to sing Christmas carols before dinner?” Julia suggested as they waited in front of the fire in the music room for their Christmas dinner to be ready. “I’d like to suggest Deck the Halls. Philippa, will you play for us?”

Philippa raised her eyebrows. “You may do it yourself, Julia. We all had the same music lessons, after all.”

Julia shrugged. “I’m holding the baby,” she argued. “Little Theodosia is fast asleep. You would surely not wish to wake her, would you?”

Lady Pendleton and her youngest daughter exchanged a glance. The rivalry between Julia and Philippa had become routine in their family, even after they had become adults.

Philippa gave Julia a look of annoyance and moved to the pianoforte. “What song shall we begin with?” she asked, deliberately ignoring Julia’s request.

“I Thaw Thwee Ships come thailing in,” chimed in two-year-old Emily, “on Chwithmath Day, on Chwithmath Day.”

Sarah’s oldest daughter was playing on the floor with a model of the HMS Victory, Lord Nelson’s ship at the Battle of Trafalgar, that her father had given her for Christmas. Her mother had lightheartedly accused him of wishing Emily were a boy, but for whatever reason, their little daughter eschewed her dolls for the colorfully-painted ship.

“Emily has decided. I Saw Three Ships it is,” Philippa agreed, and played a chord to begin the singing.

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I Saw Three Ships

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5LROczmJHg

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Excerpt from The Ultimate Escape

She’d been standing there a few minutes, beginning to feel the sudden chilling of the air through her fur-lined cloak when the door to the house opened and a stout, middle-aged woman gestured for her to come inside.

“Weren’t you told to come in through the back entrance? We’ve been expecting you for over an hour, you know. Dear me, you must be freezing to death out there… might have a bit of snow this evening, or so they say.”

Julia’s mouth fell open. They were expecting her? No, of course not. She was being mistaken for someone else.

“I don’t think…” she began, but was interrupted by another, taller, woman, who unhooked her cloak and dragged her into a back room.

“The hair needs some work,” she commented as she surveyed Julia’s appearance. The dress is the right period, but the freckles! The agency surely knows proper ladies of the Regency did not have freckles.”

Julia’s eyes narrowed. She’d heard enough of that nonsense in her early years. “I assure you, they did, madam, if that was the complexion they were born with.” Scrubbing them with lemon juice and taking parasols everywhere had never made much of a difference, so she had learned to accept hers gracefully.

The tall woman raised her eyebrows and mumbled something about the “impertinence of young people these days,” and the other woman brought her some coffee and biscuits, and before she knew what was happening, her hair was restyled, her gown brushed and tidied, and she was sent upstairs to the “Striped Drawing Room” to mingle with the guests and talk to them about what it was like to live in “the Regency.”

There was an awkward moment or two before she learned that “the Regency” was the period from 1811-1820 when the Prince of Wales ruled as his father’s proxy until the king’s death in 1820. The Prince had been Regent for nearly two years in her own time, but nobody she knew called it “the Regency.” And she hadn’t, of course, known the date of the King’s death. That caused a tear or two until she realized suddenly that he had been dead for nearly 200 years, and so was everyone else she knew. Even she herself. Just thinking about it made her head spin.

But she didn’t have long to brood, because there were visitors to talk to. And other interesting things to learn—more awkward moments—such as the name of the house—Apsley House—and its most famous occupant—the Duke of Wellington, who turned out to be Arthur Wellesley, a particular friend of her father’s who, in her time, had only recently been made a marquess. From listening to the guides of some of the groups who toured the house, she learned that Wellesley had triumphed against the French emperor in a famous battle in an obscure Belgian town called Waterloo… that he had been showered with lavish gifts from all over the world, and even become Prime Minister. How intriguing!

Although she found it amusing to speak with the visitors about attending balls and dinners and answering a multitude of questions about the period in which she lived, she was relieved when the young woman whose place she had taken finally arrived, and she could leave to continue her explorations of the London of the future. What else might she discover before returning to her own time?

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christmasgoose

“The Christmas goose looks lovely,” Lady Pendleton commented, her eyes a bit moist. “Will you not carve it, Sir Henry? It is a Tate family tradition for the senior male to carve the bird.”

The butler placed the goose on the table in front of him, and a footman handed him the necessary utensils.

“My pleasure, your ladyship.” He rose and winked at Lady Sarah, who bit her lip to keep from smiling. It was no secret that she was considerably younger than her husband and that he had nearly a decade on Philippa’s husband, Viscount Hooper. “I’ve carved a few birds in my time.”

Yorkshire Christmas pie

http://www.janeausten.co.uk/yorkshire-christmas-pie-georgian-turducken/

First make a good standing crust, let the wall and bottom be very thick; bone a turkey, a goose, a fowl, a partridge, and a pigeon. Season them all very well, take half an ounce of mace, half an ounce of nutmegs, a quarter of an ounce of cloves, and half an ounce of black pepper, all beat fine together, two large spoonfuls of salt, and then mix them together. Open the fowls all down the back, and bone them; first the pigeon, then the partridge, cover them; then the fowl, then the goose, and then the turkey, which must be large; season them all well first, and lay them in the crust, so as it will look only like a whole turkey; then have a hare ready cased, and wiped with a clean cloth. Cut it to pieces; that is, joint it, season it, and lay it as close as you can on one side; and the other side woodcocks, moor game, and what sort of wild fowl you can get. Season them well, and lay them close, put at least four pounds of butter into the pie, then lay on your lid, which must be a very thick one, and let it be well baked. It must have a very hot oven, and will take at least four hours.

Recipe from: Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, 1747

With thanks to the Jane Austen Society (Please see above link for an in-depth discussion of the recipe)

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Wassail

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/wassail-recipe.html

Recipe by: Alton Brown

Ingredients

  • 6 small Fuji apples, cored
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 72 ounces ale
  • 750 ml Madeira
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 10 whole allspice berries
  • 1 cinnamon stick, 2-inches long
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 large eggs, separated

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Put the apples into an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish. Spoon the brown sugar into the center of each apple, dividing the sugar evenly among them. Pour the water into the bottom of the dish and bake until tender, about 45 minutes.
  • Pour the ale and Madeira into a large slow cooker. Put the cloves, allspice, and cinnamon into a small muslin bag or cheesecloth, tied with kitchen twine, and add to the slow cooker along with the ginger and nutmeg. Set the slow cooker to medium heat and bring the mixture to at least 120 degrees F. Do not boil.
  • Add the egg whites to a medium bowl and using a hand mixer, beat until stiff peaks form. Put the egg yolks into a separate bowl and beat until lightened in color and frothy, approximately 2 minutes. Add the egg whites to the yolks and using the hand mixer, beat, just until combined. Slowly add 4 to 6 ounces of the alcohol mixture from the slow cooker to the egg mixture, beating with the hand mixer on low speed. Return this mixture to the slow cooker and whisk to combine.
  • Add the apples and the liquid from the baking dish to the wassail and stir to combine. Ladle into cups and serve.

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Negus

http://www.janeausten.co.uk/negus/

To every pint of port wine, allow 1 quart of boiling water, 1/4 lb. of sugar, 1 lemon, grated nutmeg to taste.

As this beverage is more usually drunk at children’s parties than at any other, the wine need not be very old or expensive for the purpose, a new fruity wine answering very well for it. Put the wine into a jug, rub some lumps of sugar (equal to 1/4 lb.) on the lemon-rind until all the yellow part of the skin is absorbed, then squeeze the juice, and strain it. Add the sugar and lemon-juice to the port wine, with the grated nutmeg; pour over it the boiling water, cover the jug, and, when the beverage has cooled a little, it will be fit for use. Negus may also be made of sherry, or any other sweet white wine, but is more usually made of port than of any other beverage.

Sufficient: Allow 1 pint of wine, with the other ingredients in proportion, for a party of 9 or 10 children.

Recipe from: Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1861

With thanks to the Jane Austen Society (Please see above link for an in-depth discussion of the recipe)

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Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem: A Bluestocking Belles Collection
In this collection of novellas, the Bluestocking Belles bring you seven runaway Regency brides resisting and romancing their holiday heroes under the mistletoe. Whether scampering away or dashing toward their destinies, avoiding a rogue or chasing after a scoundrel, these ladies and their gentlemen leave miles of mayhem behind them on the slippery road to a happy-ever-after.

***All proceeds benefit the Malala Fund.***

Goodreads Reviews

Amazon | Smashwords | Amazon UK | Amazon Australia | Amazon Canada | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

Donate to the Malala Fund

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Links to all of the Belles’ holiday wassailing stops, with a different Regency era Christmas carol, dinner selection, and beverage, and wassail recipes at every stop that you can make in the modern kitchen.

christmas

Digital Christmas Card by EKDuncan using digital Christmas ornaments of Regency ladies

Encounter at White’s: a cross-post with Nicole Zoltack

Whites Club London-M

Oliver handed his hat and gloves to the porter as he removed his coat and presented it as well. Shivering in the notoriously chilly foyer at White’s Club, he made his way quickly toward the drawing room, where no doubt there would be a roaring fire. After more than a fortnight of escorting his fiancée and her mother to balls and ton events nearly every evening, not to mention drives in the park and ices at Gunter’s—along with his responsibilities at the bank—he was looking forward to an evening with his cronies and nice cognac or two. White’s always had the best spirits in town.

Oliver Stanton

Oliver Stanton

He hadn’t got very far, however, when he very nearly collided with Stephen Huntington, Duke of Wyngate, who was emerging from the card room with an expression of tight-lipped determination on his face.

“Pardon me,” the duke said, straightening his coat somewhat nervously.

“No need,” said Oliver easily. “Wasn’t watching where I was going. Join me in a drink, Your Grace?”

The duke blinked and stumbled back a step. “Why yes, I would appreciate that, Stanton.”

The two men strolled to the drawing room and claimed two leather chairs near the fire.

“A cognac for me,” Oliver told the waiter. “Wyngate?”

"Portrait of Citizen Guerin," by Robert Lefevre, 1801, French. The Age of Napoleon. Ed. Katell le Bourhis. NY: The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1989. p.82, pl. 72.

Stephen Huntington, Duke of Wyngate

He liked Stephen Huntington, and not just because he was a duke and one of the bank’s best customers. He was an honorable man and not at all puffed up about it. Some titled gentlemen didn’t deign to speak to him unless it was at the bank and they needed access to their money. Wyngate wasn’t that sort.

“Cognac sounds perfect.” The duke rubbed his forehead.

“Right away, gentlemen.” The waiter bowed and disappeared into the back rooms.

The duke cleared his throat. “I-I have a strange question for you, Stanton, if I may.”

Oliver nodded. Who was he to gainsay a duke, even if he wished to. And he was curious to know what was behind the normally easy-going duke’s skittish behavior.

“Have we crossed paths, recently? Since the Hansens’ ball last week, I mean?”

Oliver’s eyes narrowed. “Why no, I don’t believe so. Why do you ask?”

Stephen tugged at his collar. “Ah… well, that’s good. That’s good,” he repeated. “You see… I have heard rumors that there is a man impersonating me throughout the country. I can scarcely believe it! But I cannot ignore such a thing, lest it be true and the wretch is up to serious mischief.”

Oliver’s eyes widened. “Impersonating you? But how is that possible? You are widely known in London, Your Grace.”

shapeimage_1The duke plucked a glass of brandy from the waiter’s tray and took a long sip. Oliver did likewise, wondering who would dare to play such a trick on the Duke of Wyngate, of all people.

“I do not know. I guess the reprobate must resemble me. Sound like me as well.” Wyngate took another swallow and set down his glass. “No one has come to the bank asking about my money recently? That could certainly be a factor.”

“Money is always a factor,” Oliver said dryly. “But no, I can assure you that your accounts are safe. I would have been notified had someone come to withdraw funds unexpectedly.” He set his own glass on the table. “How did the news come to you of this extraordinary situation?”

“My friends.” He gestured behind him toward the card room. “They can be rather prone to jokes and mischief, but somehow I doubt they would jest about something as serious as this.” He shrugged. “No need to concern yourself further. I am certain the matter will be resolved shortly. Now tell me, Stanton. I see that Lady Julia has recovered from her illness. Will your nuptials be rescheduled soon?”

Lady Julia Tate (at age 27)

Lady Julia Tate

Oliver winced, as he always did when that particular question was raised, which was happening quite frequently in the fortnight or so since their wedding guests had been sent home without witnessing a wedding or even catching sight of the bride and groom.

“I do not mean to pry.” Wyngate drank the last of cognac. “I was hoping one of us was happy.”

“Soon,” Oliver said. “These things take time to arrange, you know. The ladies expect such things. And I wouldn’t want my bride to be deprived of the wedding of her dreams simply because she was taken ill the night before the first one was to take place.”

He grinned. “What about you, Wyngate? Any interest in setting up your own nursery any time soon?” Any man with a title had to concern himself with the matter of an heir sooner a later. Particularly a duke.

“Oh no. Not I. I am not the least bit interested in marriage. And even if I were, with an imposter running about, I will be far too busy to woo and win the heart of any lady.”

Oliver chuckled. “A wealthy duke could have his choice of any young lady in the ton. With or without the wooing. But you must certainly investigate this matter of an imposter. Particularly if he resembles you to the extent that he could ruin your reputation. Do let me know if I can be of any assistance to you, Your Grace.”

“Thank you. You have always been a loyal and good friend.” Wyngate stood. “I would appreciate it if you could keep this matter to yourself. Unless you should happen to see another me…” He shook his head.

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“Of course, Your Grace.”

“I should be off to try to track this rogue down. Do take care.” The duke turned and called for his horse.

Oliver rose and offered his hand. “Good luck, Your Grace.”

“You as well.” The duke shook his hand and gave him a tight smile. “Shall I expect another wedding invitation any time soon?”

“Of course, Your Grace.” At least Oliver hoped it would be soon. The new house on Manchester Square was nearly ready, and he was eager to finally have Julia as his wife at last.

Strange happenings in Hyde Park: a Bluestocking Belles cross-post

Today on Susana’s Parlour, Jude Knight and I have something special: a stand-alone short story with two characters from the Bluestocking Belles’ holiday box set, Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem. Mary, the heroine of Jude’s story, Gingerbread Bride, meets Agatha Tate, Lady Pendleton, the mother of Julia Tate, the heroine of my story, The Ultimate Escape. In this episode, Lady Pendleton is just returning from a two-week journey into the twentieth century. Yes, she is a time-traveling Regency lady (who has appeared on this blog on several occasions in the past).

Pissarro_Hyde_Park

Agatha Tate staggered backwards as her feet touched the ground until, unable to reclaim her balance, she toppled over onto the soft grass at Hyde Park.

“Wh-at?” She put a hand to her aching temple and tried to regain her bearings. “Where am I?”

Agatha Tate, Lady Pendleton

Agatha Tate, Lady Pendleton

She opened her eyes and could see a vague image of a young girl in front of her. A girl who had likely seen her materialize out of nowhere, she realized as her wits were restored to her. Good heavens! How was she going to explain something was… well… unexplainable?

The girl—a young woman really, Agatha could see as her vision cleared—stepped forward, blinking rapidly. “May I help you?”

“Uh… who are you?” Agatha asked, her head still throbbing. “How long have you been there?”

Agatha pulled herself up into a sitting position and cast about for her shopping bag, which had landed in a nearby bush. “Oh my, can you get that for me, my dear? I need to change my attire before anyone sees me.”

She was still wearing her animal print leather jeans and denim jacket, which was certain to startle an inhabitant of London in 1799. Of course, she should have changed to her original clothing prior to leaving the twentieth century, but she’d been so stricken by the need to see her family again that she’d collected her bag, pulled out the stone, and uttered the gypsy’s spell before the thought could occur to her.

“Well, before anyone ELSE sees me. I shouldn’t want to cause a scandal.”

Mary Pritchard

Mary Pritchard

The bemused young lady fetched the bag and handed it to her. Agatha could see that her bright red hair was tousled and she seemed to be short of breath.

“Mary Pritchard, ma’am, at your service.” The young lady curtseyed politely.

“A pleasure to meet you, Miss Pritchard. Please allow me to introduce myself. I am not usually so rag-mannered, but since we have met in such unconventional circumstances…. Oh dear, there I go again! I am Lady Pendleton. My husband is Lord Pendleton, of Wittersham.”

“I am pleased to make your acquaintance, my lady.” She glanced at their surroundings, and returned her gaze toward Agatha with a reassuring smile. “We are hidden here, I think. I will keep a lookout un case Viscount B… in case anyone comes this way while you are changing.”

Agatha smiled, feeling a bit sheepish. “How very kind of you, Miss Pritchard. I was just about to ask if you would do me that small favor.”

She took the bag behind a bush and began to tug at the tight leather jeans. “Oh, I know I shouldn’t have had that last Big Mac,” she groaned.

Upon seeing the look of bewilderment on Miss Pritchard’s face, Agatha rolled her eyes. She already had a great deal to explain to the kind young woman. She’d better watch her tongue from her on in.

She coughed. “I’m afraid I’ve been over-indulging during the past fortnight. I hope my old clothes will still fit.”

“Have you traveled far?” Miss Pritchard asked politely.

Agatha grinned. “You could say that, I suppose.”

A crashing further back in the woods startled them, particularly Miss Pritchard, whose hand went to her chest as she turned toward the origin of the sound. She appeared frightened out of her skin.

Lady Pendleton pulled her yellow morning gown over her head. “Are you well, my child?”

I’m the one who has traveled 200 years and she’s the one who looks white enough to be a ghost.

“I… ah… you must wondering, ma’am, at my being here without an escort. That sound is, I think, my escort. If he finds me, would you be kind enough to say I am with you?”

The poor girl was trembling! Agatha stepped out from behind the bush and folded the girl into her embrace. Why she looked to be only a year or two older than her own daughter Julia!

“Your escort… attacked you? How did that happen?”

After a brief moment, Mary returned her embrace. She was a brave one—or perhaps foolish—to trust a complete stranger, particularly under these circumstances.

“I refused his proposal, and he thought to force me. I… ah… punched him in… ah… I distracted him and ran.”

What are Miss Pritchard’s parents thinking to allow her to be escorted by such a villain?

Miss Pritchard bit her lip. “I do not know what to do. If I tell my aunt, she will say that we must marry, and I would rather throw myself into the Thames than marry a man who only wants my money.” She sighed. “Actually, I would rather throw him into the Thames.”

Agatha straightened up. “This… this… Boswell won’t harm you as long as I’m here, my child.” She grinned. “The Serpentine is a great deal closer. Will that do instead, do you think?”

No. 42, Grosvenor Square, the Pendletons' London home

No. 42, Grosvenor Square, the Pendletons’ London home

She turned her back. “Hurry, do me up and we’ll away from here. I live in Grosvenor Square; it’s not too far.”

The girl chuckled and hastened to oblige. Agatha gathered her discarded clothing and stuffed them into the bag, realizing she would have to keep on her twentieth century boots since she had left the old ones behind.

“Ma’am, I could not help but notice the manner of your arrival and your attire. Would you think me impertinent if I asked where you came from?”

Agatha swallowed. What to say? Perhaps she could avoid the question… a little while longer.

“It’s a long story. What concerns me most at the moment is what your parents could have been thinking to leave you alone with such a rogue.”

Miss Pritchard sighed. “I came to live with my aunt when my papa died. The rogue is her son, I am afraid. She is as keen to have the inheritance my papa left me as her son is.”

Agatha’s nostrils flared. “How disgraceful! Clearly, she is not a fit guardian. Is there no one else who can offer you protection, my dear?” She pressed her lips together. “My husband and I don’t hold with arranged marriages. Not for our three daughters, or for anyone else, if it can possibly be helped.”

800px-Hyde_Park_London_from_1833_Schmollinger_map

She set a fast pace toward the Grosvenor Gate. She wasn’t about to allow this scoundrel to make off with Miss Pritchard under any circumstances, but it would be best if they avoid a direct confrontation.

“He doesn’t even want me,” her young charge burst out. “I heard him tell his friends that he would park me in the country while spent my lovely money!”

As they approached the gate, Agatha paused and looked cautiously behind her for any sign of a pursuer and sighed with relief at not seeing one. Followed by a moment of uncertainty. The more she thought about her own family and how they must have worried about her disappearance, the more eager she was to hurry home and beg their forgiveness. On the other hand, she wasn’t sure she was quite ready to confront them—particularly not her husband George. In any case, she couldn’t abandon this poor little dove to her mercenary aunt and odious cousin. What to do? What to do?

“I’ve got it,” she said. “Tea!”

“Tea would be very welcome,” said Mary. “I have no wish to go home until I decide what to do about beastly Bosville.”

Agatha knew of a delightful little bookshop on Mount Street that served tea, which frankly she had not enjoyed half so well during her travels into the future.

“Let us have a brief respite at my friend Mrs. Marlowe’s bookshop,” she suggested. “She is very cordial and serves the best tea and biscuits in Town.”

Mary’s face brightened. “I know it!” Mary said. “She has an excellent range of books.”

Suddenly she moved to one side, putting Agatha between her and the carriageway, where a dark-haired dandy was driving a phaeton at a furious pace out of the gate and into the street beyond.

1948-TROTTING-HACKNEY-CARRIAGE-HORSE-PRINT_700_600_QVBO

“Forgive me,” she said, “I am not usually so nervous, but that was my cousin, and I would rather he did not see me at present. Although,” she added, “I suppose it is silly of me, for what could he do in all this crowd? And I will take care not to be alone with him again, you may be sure.”

Agatha shook her head. “He looked very angry. It’s best to avoid a confrontation. Let’s away to Mount Street and refresh ourselves while we plan our strategy.” She was thinking “strategies”, because she had to come up with one for her own situation as well.

The bookshop was as busy as ever, with several customers waiting their turn at the counter. Mary led them up the stairs to the tearoom, where little tables invited friendly conversation.

tea table

“Lady Pendleton, I hope you do not think me rude, but I could not help but notice your attire when you—er—arrived. And—it cannot be true, can it? You seemed to appear out of nowhere!”

Agatha blanched. A more prudent woman would not have considered confiding her situation—as strange as it was—to a young girl such as Mary, but then, Agatha had never been known for her prudence.

“I’ll have a cup of Bohea,” she told the waiter. “And some strawberry tarts if you have them. What would you like, my dear?”

“Souchong, please,” Mary said. “And strawberry tarts sound wonderful.”

After the waiter had departed, Agatha turned to Mary. She might as well get it over with. “When you saw me earlier today, I was wearing clothing from the twentieth century. I-uh- was visiting there for the past two weeks. I suppose you might call me—a sort of time traveler.”

Agatha’s hands were clammy. It sounded so ridiculous to say such a thing, and she wouldn’t have believed it herself if she hadn’t experienced it firsthand. But she was going to have to say it again—soon—to her husband, so she’d best get over her fears now rather than later

Mary opened her mouth and closed it again. “How marvelous,” she said at last. “I have traveled much of the world, but to travel in time? How wonderful!” She sat up straight in her chair, her eyes widened.

“Marvelous, yes, it is at that,” Agatha agreed. “Quite fascinating. An amusing and rather unconventional manner of escaping one’s problems. But now… I find myself having to face them after all.”

Mary nodded. “Running away does not solve things. Though it can win you time to find a solution.”

Their conversation was interrupted by the arrival of the tea. Agatha poured for both of them.

teapot

“You are wise for your age,” she commented as she passed her the plate of tarts.

Mary smiled. “Thank you, ma’am. I am on my own, you see, and must think for myself. And I am of age, though I know I look younger. My youth is a great disadvantage. Were I older, I could move to my own residence, and no one would be in the least scandalized.” She sighed.

Agatha leaned in and lightly stroked Mary’s arm. “I have three daughters at home. Julia, my eldest, is fourteen. I have missed them all so much, and my husband most of all. But I needed time to reflect on my situation, and knew my mother and aunts would only tell me to go back to my husband.”

Lady Julia Tate (at age 27)

Lady Julia Tate (at age 27)

She shook her head. “Marriage is not something to be rushed into. My George and I married for affection and fell in love later. And for the most part, we have rubbed along very well. I never thought he would turn into a—despot.” She winced, knowing in her heart that George was not a despot. Someone had wounded his pride. That holier-than-thou William Wilberforce, who despised some of her political friends because he disapproved of their morals.

Mary grimaced. “But are you going home now?”

Agatha’s mouth went dry and she took another sip of her tea.

“I am,” she said. “I must. I cannot abandon my daughters. Or my husband.”

“Of course not,” Mary agreed.

“But George must know that I won’t have a despot for a husband. While women do not have the sort of freedoms in this century that they will have in the future,”—she saw Mary’s eyes widen in surprised—“we do have options, and he must surely know I would not hesitate to take some of them, undesirable though they would be.”

She licked her lips with cautious hope. “If I know my George, though, he has long ago forgotten his anger amidst his concern for my absence.” She smiled as she imagined a tender reconciliation between them. She felt a sense of calm.

Taking the last sip of tea, she set her cup down. “It appears that my path is quite clear. I must return home and have a serious discussion with my husband. As for you, my dear, I wonder if you haven’t any other relatives you could appeal to, since clearly these Bosvilles are not suitable.”

Mary’s face brightened. “I wonder that I did not think of that! Yes, indeed! I have three more aunts, though I have not met them. Papa said I was to come to London. He thought Aunt Bosville might help me to find a husband.” Her color deepened, her fair skin showing her embarrassment. “I find I am not in the fashionable mode, however. Being raised on a naval ship does not prepare one to talk nonsense, and faint, and be ridiculously frilly and the like. And then…” she gestured at her bright red hair and freckles, “there is how I look.”

Agatha raised an eyebrow. “I see nothing amiss with your appearance. Your coloring may not be the fashion this year, but it does not prevent you from having an appeal of your own. Indeed, my eldest daughter is flame-haired and freckled, and I am quite certain she will grow into her own beauty when she past the tomboy phase.” She grinned. “Red hair is quite popular in the twentieth century. I observed that many of the younger ladies had deliberately colored their hair red, or at least a portion of it.” She frowned. “Of course, there were also shades of blue and green that I could not like at all, but that was the way of things—or will be, I should say. Society is so much more liberated in the future.”

Mary leaned forward. “Lady Pendleton, do you think… Could you tell me how you came to travel through time? Could I do it?”

Agatha wrinkled her brow. “Oh no, my dear! I think it would be quite ill-advised for someone so young to venture off into a completely different world. You may be certain I will not breathe a word of it to any of my daughters, at least not until they are old enough to have learned to resolve their problems rather than try to avoid them. No indeed, dear Mary, we must find a rather more conventional solution to your dilemma.”

“I am familiar with adventures, Lady Pendleton. I have been in a number of tight spots in many parts of the world. Though I have needed rescue from time to time, and I suppose I cannot expect Rick—Lieutenant Redepenning—to follow me two hundred years into the future.”

Now this was a promising development. “This Rick-er-Lieutenant Redepenning… you say he has come to your rescue in the past? Sounds like a delightful young man. The two of you appear to have a great deal in common. Is he eligible, do you think?” She winked. “I must confess that I would like to see my daughter Julia make a match with Oliver, who lives next door to us in Wittersham. They have been close friends forever.” She sighed. “Although it remains to be seen how well they deal with each other as adults.”

“Things can certainly change when one grows up, Mary sighed. “We were good friends when we were younger, but now… Lady Pendleton, a friend would visit a friend, would he not? If he were in London, and she were in London? A lady cannot call upon a gentleman, after all. Aunt would not even allow me to send a note! At first he was recovering from his injury, but he has been seen about Town these past six weeks and has not been to see me.” She sighed again, more deeply this time. “No, eligible or not, Rick the Rogue is not interested in plain Mary Pritchard.”

Then she brightened. “I will go to my aunts in Haslemere, Lady Pendleton. I will make the arrangements today.”

“Do you need a place to stay before you leave, Miss Pritchard?” Agatha patted her hand. “You would be welcome, if you think your return to Lady Bosville’s house would put you at risk.”

Mary shook her head. “I am quite sure that is not necessary, my lady. My cousin is unlikely to dare anything further. If he should return home, that is. He often stays away for days at a time.”

“I do hope that is the case, dear. However,” she added in a maternal tone, “Do not neglect to hire a post chaise, and your own outriders. You have a maid who can accompany you, I take it?”

“The public coach goes straight through to Haslemere, where my aunts live. Yes, I do believe it is the perfect solution. Thank you for your counsel, Lady Pendleton. And best of luck with your own reunion. I am certain your family will be over-the-top excited to have you back again!”

I hope so too, Agatha thought. In any case, it was time she found out. She rose from her seat and reached for Mary’s hand.

“It was a great pleasure to meet you, Miss Pritchard. My sincere thanks for your assistance in the park earlier. I can trust on your discretion, I suppose?”

At Mary’s nod, she clasped Mary’s shoulder. “I wish you well on your journey. And if you need any further assistance, please send for me at Grosvenor Square. Number forty-two.”

And the two of them departed the bookshop to face their own separate destinies.

Click here to read the story from Mary Pritchard’s point of view.

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