Since I seem unable to get Follyjohn and its inhabitants out of my mind, I hope you’ll enjoy a brand new short story, which you can read here: “The Question”.
Regency romance: a free short story
Many readers enjoy the Follyjohn Gossip Series, so I hope you’ll find The Question fun.
Here’s a short description.
“The Question”, a Regency romance short story
Three people. Only one of them knows her own mind.
- A dashing lord…
- A lady who waits, and waits…
- Bessie Skipwell, who thinks they’re both fools.
Lord Middlebrough, and Charlotte Skipwell will marry
He makes no attempt to court her, however.
At 23, Charlotte is almost a spinster.
Bessie, Charlotte’s younger sister, is unable to stir Charlotte or her mother into action. She fears Charlotte’s on the shelf and believes that Middlebrough intends leaving her there.
Enough is enough.
Humiliation awaits, but Bessie decides she’ll ask Lord Middlebrough his intentions towards her sister.
Here’s an excerpt from “The Question”
Hayford House, Kent, 1817
In just one week, Charlotte would be 23. A spinster.
Glancing over the top of the newspaper, Bessie narrowed her gaze on her sister. Charlotte sat opposite her in a chair which was pressed as close to the library fire as was safe. Even in midsummer Charlotte felt the cold.
She’s pretty enough, Bessie decided. Why, if we spend a little money and buy the right clothes, Charlotte might become a diamond. She could win anyone she chose in the ton. Of course, they’d have to do something about Charlotte’s freckles; such a disaster with red hair. And she would slouch, when she thought no one watched her.
All she had to do was convince Charlotte — and their mother — that they had to go to London. “Father has been gone for almost three years,” Bessie said.
Charlotte laid down her embroidery. “How quickly the time goes.”
“What would you like for your birthday?”
“You mustn’t spend your money on me,” Charlotte said, looking up. “There’s nothing I want.”
“According to The Morning Chronicle, Lord Middlebrough is staying with the Fenchams,” Bessie leaned over to Charlotte and tapped the item in the newspaper.
“It’s a large house party,” she went on. “No doubt the Fenchams have hopes — they mean to rid themselves of that bean-pole of a daughter. Charlotte, don’t you think it time you and Middlebrough settled matters? He may decide he’ll seize Liz Fencham and her dowery. She’s an heiress. You are not.”
“Settled? My dear, I can’t marry him until he asks me.” Charlotte smiled. “That’s the way it’s done.”
“When will he ask, and what if he doesn’t?” Bessie leaned forward. “What if he offers for some other lady like the Fencham girl? He’s shown no signs of courting you in all these years. And we’ve only Father’s word for it he had an agreement with old Lord Middlebrough. With both Father and old Middlebrough gone, we need to do something.”
“I’m sure he’ll ask when he’s ready.”
Too complacent by half, Bessie thought. But pink had flooded Charlotte’s face. Bessie realized that it would be cruel to persist, but suddenly Bessie had had enough.
Time to face facts. “That’s the thing.” She kept her voice calm. “He’s never shown the slightest interest in courting you. He’s pleasant enough, but if he wants you he should make shift to fix his interest. We must stop our air dreaming habits and force Middlebrough to the point — if he won’t come up to scratch we must know it.”
Read the full short story here (free)
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