Daughters of Castle Deverill

Daughters of Castle Deverill by Santa Montefiore

Book: Daughters of Castle Deverill by Santa Montefiore Read Free Book Online
Authors: Santa Montefiore
weekend. It was a crisp winter morning. The sky above Manhattan was a bright cerulean blue, full of optimism and free of cares. The sun hung low over the Hudson, caressing
the ripples on the water with fickle kisses, and turning the rising new skyscrapers orange. As they drove over the Brooklyn Bridge Elaine broke into the song ‘Tea For Two’ from the
musical
No, No, Nanette
, which had appeared on Broadway that year and got everyone toe-tapping to the catchy tunes. Bridie joined in, although she didn’t know all the words, and
smiled coyly at the admiring men who glanced at them from the passing cars while their wives weren’t looking.
    As they left the city giant billboards lined the route, advertising cars, cigarettes and the new Atwater Kent radio set, which Elaine had insisted Bridie buy because it was all the rage.
Beautiful faces smiled out from these posters, twenty feet tall, promising pleasure, glamour and happiness, and Bridie, who had bought into that world of material immoderation, delighted at being a
part of it. Hers was the pretty smile in the advertisement and hers was the glossy existence behind it. Together, she and Elaine were wild, carefree and liberated, popular, fashionable and
blithe.
    The highway soon left the city behind and the concrete and brick gave way to fields and woodland, farm buildings and dwellings. Winter had robbed the countryside of its summer foliage and the
trees were bare and frozen, their gnarled and twisted branches naked to the winds and rain that swept in off the sea. The young women sang to keep warm, their breath forming icy clouds on the air.
It was late afternoon when they reached Elaine’s house, which was a white cottage made of clapboard with a weathered grey shingled roof and a veranda overlooking the water. ‘Beaumont
bought this as a young man and even though he has the dough to upgrade, he insists on keeping it. Surprisingly sentimental, don’t you think?’ said Elaine, drawing up outside.
    ‘I think it’s charming,’ Bridie replied, keen to get inside and warm up.
    ‘Connie should have prepared it for us. Let’s go and see.’ But before she reached the steps up to the front door, a stout little woman no more than five feet tall opened it and
the welcoming smell of burning wood greeted them with the promise of hot food and comfort.
    Preparing for a party is often more thrilling than the party itself. While one can’t predict whether the evening will be a success or a failure, at least one can assure that the two hours
or so it takes to get ready are exciting in themselves. With this in mind Elaine and Bridie laced their orange juice with gin, listened to jazz on the gramophone and danced around Elaine’s
bedroom in satin slips and stockings as they curled their hair and applied their make-up. Connie, who was originally from Mexico, pressed the creases out of their dresses and brushed the scuff from
their dancing shoes, muttering to herself in Spanish that no good would come of two young women going off to a party without the presence of men to escort them. But she waved them off with a smile,
if not a little warning shake of her head, then retreated inside to tidy up the great mess the two of them had made of the main bedroom.
    The Reynoldses’ grand Italianate mansion, set in sumptuous grounds overlooking the beach in Southampton, was famous for its spectacular ballroom, baronial-style fireplaces and elaborate
gardens. Darcy Reynolds had made his fortune on Wall Street. His motto seemed to be, ‘No point earning it if you can’t show it off.’ So the mansion, or ‘summer
cottage’ as the family referred to it, heaved with entertainments during the summer months and usually fell silent directly after the first frost. This winter, however, was Darcy’s
fiftieth birthday, and he had decided to celebrate with a lavish Christmas party, the like of which had never been seen on Long Island.
    Bridie and Elaine were immediately struck by

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