Saturday, 18 April 2015

Extract from False Pretences Romantic Regency Mystery


False Pretences by Rosemary Morris

Romantic Regency Mystery

Abbreviated Extract from Chapter One

1815

 

“My dear child, you are fortunate,” said Miss Chalfont, headmistress of The Beeches Boarding School for Young Ladies. “Your guardian has arranged for you to marry, Monsieur le Baron de Beauchamp.”

Annabelle looked up with a mixture of astonishment, disbelief, and intense indignation at the arrangement that took no heed of her wishes. “I am to marry a man I have never met?”

With restless fingers, Miss Chalfont adjusted her frilled mobcap. “Yes, your guardian has arranged for you to marry Monsieur le Baron tomorrow.”

Annabelle stared at her kind teacher as though she had turned into a monster. “Mon dieu!” she raged, reverting to the French she spoke when she was a small child. “My God! Tomorrow? My guardian expects me to marry a Frenchman tomorrow? Miss Chalfont, surely you do not approve of such haste.”

“Do not take the Lord’s name in vain.” Miss Chalfont tapped her fingers on her desk. “My approval or disapproval is of no consequence. Your guardian wishes you to marry immediately so there is little more to be said. A special licence has been procured and the vicar has been informed.” Miss Chalfont smiled at her. “You have nothing to fear. This letter informs me that Monsieur speaks English and lives in this country.”

Annabelle scowled. Her hands trembled. For the first time, she defied her head mistress. “Nothing to fear? My life is to be put in the hands of a husband with the right to…beat me…or…starve me, and you say I have nothing to fear, Miss Chalfont? Please believe me when I say that nothing will persuade me to marry in such haste.”

Not the least display of emotion crossed the head teacher’s face. “You should not allow your imagination to agitate your sensibilities. For all you know, the monsieur is charming and will be a good, kind husband.”

“On the other hand, he might be a monster,” Annabelle said.” ‘

“He is described as a handsome gentleman of mature years.”

“One would think the description is of a piece of mature cheese or a bottle of vintage wine.”

Miss Chalfont frowned. “Do not be impertinent, Annabelle, you are not too old to be punished.”

“I beg your pardon, ma’am, but please tell me how mature he is,” Annabelle said, her eyes wide open and her entire body taut with apprehension.

“Monsieur le Baron is some forty-years-old.”

“How mature?” Annabelle persisted with her usual bluntness.

“He is forty-two-years-old.”

Annabelle stood, bent forward, and drummed her fingers on the edge of the desk. “Please be kind enough to inform my guardian that I will not play Guinevere to an aging Arthur. I would prefer to build my nest with a young Lancelot.”

 

False Pretences is available as an e-book from:

 


www.amazon.co.uk and www.amazon.com False PretencesB009YK1MFO, Nook and other online retailers.

 

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