No Place for a Lady

No Place for a Lady by Joan Smith

Book: No Place for a Lady by Joan Smith Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joan Smith
Tags: Regency Romance
and watch. It had not been much sacrifice for Sharkey and Alger to return the smaller items to keep me silent. And to allow them to stay on at my house. That seemed very important to Mr. Alger at least. I took the necklace and hid it in my bedchamber, lest Sharkey or Alger come looking for it. But I would wrap it up with the other items for Mullard to mail to Lady Pryor—and I would give Alger a good Bear Garden jaw, too, for trying to con me.
    Miss Thackery and I had our sandwiches and tea and the remains of a stale plum cake, and as we were rising from the table, Mr. Alger returned with a young girl whom he introduced as Mary Freeman.
    She seemed a rough-and-ready sort of girl in her early teens. She had a wide smile and a tousle of red curls. Her dress of blue dimity was clean, and she carried a white apron in her hand.
    “I do mostly general cleaning, miss,” she said, “but I can do simple cooking. Gammon and eggs and roast a chicken. Ma says she’ll supply you with bread and sweets. She makes a dandy cake or pie.”
    “I shall show you what needs to be done,” Miss Thackery said. “You can begin by putting on that apron and clearing the table, Mary. The kitchen must be scrubbed down. I shall make dinner myself tonight.”
    “What about our trip to Somerset House, Miss Thackery?” I said.
    “I forgot all about it. You go ahead, Cathy. I can go another time. I cannot live in this house, knowing that kitchen is so dirty.”
    When Mr. Alger turned a laughing eye on me, I felt obliged to object. “I shall stay and help,” I said.
    She insisted I go ahead, and as I wanted a private word with Mr. Alger, I allowed myself to be persuaded. It was obvious that Miss Thackery imagined I had found a beau. She would be sorely disappointed.
    Before going upstairs to freshen his toilette, Mr. Alger said, “Have you seen Professor Vivaldi today, ladies?”
    “He went out early,” I replied. “I believe he goes to the British Museum to do research.”
    “I just wanted to check a few Latin quotations with him, for a speech Lord Dolman is giving in the House.”
    “Surely Lord Dolman knows Latin,” I said, surprised.
    “Just so. I explained myself poorly. I wanted to ask Vivaldi if he could give me a couple of pertinent quotes. Dolman recognizes Latin, but like myself, he cannot always put his hand on the right quotation. There is nothing like a sprinkling of Latin to impress the House.”
    He left then, and I found a larger box to contain the pearls and the other jewelry. I smuggled my parcel to Mullard for posting. Lady Pryor would definitely get back her pearls and ring and watch. I had managed to outwit Alger and Sharkey, and it gave me courage to face the coming confrontation.
     

Chapter Nine
     
    I wore the new chipped straw bonnet I had bought for spring and my best blue pelisse, not to impress Mr. Alger but to cut a dash at the exhibition.
    “Very fetching,” Alger said, smiling approval at the bonnet as we went out the door.
    He assisted me into the curricle, but before mounting the box himself, he said, “I have forgotten my handkerchief. I shan’t be a moment. Pray excuse me.”
    “Mr. Alger! Do not leave me alone with your team!”
    He was uncomfortable with the social lapse of leaving a lady waiting alone in the street, but I knew instinctively that mere discomfort did not cause his frustrated expression. While he stood undecided, I realized what he really had in mind.
    “If it is the pearls you are after,” I said, “they are no longer in the vase.”
    Alger gave me such a scowl I was half afraid to set out with him, but as it was broad daylight, I felt fairly safe.
    He hopped up on the box and led the horses off before speaking. When he had recovered his temper he said, “You knew all along?”
    “No, I found them after you went to get Mary Freeman.”
    “What did you do with them?”
    “They are on their way to Lady Pryor, Mr. Alger, along with her ring and watch. And don’t think you are

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