, Historical fiction
, Domestic Fiction
, Great Britain
, Napoleonic Wars; 1800-1815
, Aristocracy (Social Class) - England
, Great Britain - History - 19th century
, Morland family (Fictitious characters)
That evening Parslow, whom Lucy had sent on ahead, arrived with her curricle and horses. The following morning Edward, William, James and Fanny walked over to pay a formal visit on Roberta, and since Fanny marched Bobbie off to inspect his apartments and his toys and to boast about hers, and Edward and William were happily exchanging politenesses with Roberta, James quickly proposed that Lucytake him out in her curricle and show him her new team's paces.
‘ Oh, that's better,' he exclaimed when they were bowling swiftly along the track that led past Morland Place towards the moors. ‘I don't know how it is, Luce, but my appetite for polite nothings grows smaller every year.’
She was too preoccupied with holding her team, whose ardour, thanks to Parslow's care, had not been at all damped by the journey north, to do more than throw him a glance, but it was enough to tell her that her brother was not happy. They had always got on well in childhood, and the similarity of their circumstances gave them a sympathy for each other, though Lucy had often been impatient with him. His way of dealing with things was not hers. She had thought when he left his wife to live with Héloïse that he had made a brave choice, and had felt nothing but impatience with him when he came back again, believing it to be an act of indecision. Older and wiser herself now, she was prepared to believe that he had been subjected to irresistible pressures.
‘ Do you ever see her?' she asked. He shook his head. 'Or hear news of her?' Another shake. 'Roberta writes to her, you know. I expect she could tell you how she goes on. I did wonder ...'
‘ I wondered, with such a big party, and with Mary Ann away, whether Roberta might not invite her to join us.’
James turned to look at her, and his eyes seemed large in his face. 'I want to see her so much; but I don't know if it would be more pleasure or more pain.'
‘ Well, if it were me ...' Lucy said robustly, thinking that here was one of the ways she and her brother were different. If she had the chance of seeing Weston only for one moment, she would take it, no matter how it hurt afterwards to be parted from him.
‘ How are things between you and Chetwyn?' James asked by a natural process of association.
‘ As bad as they can be,' she answered. She glanced side ways at her brother to see if she had his attention. 'I'm with child again,' she said abruptly.
‘ Oh?' said James, and then, as the implications occurred to him, 'Oh!'
‘ Well, Chetwyn isn't the father, of course,' Lucy said impatiently, 'and he says that this time he won't acknowledge it. I tell you this in confidence, Jamie.'
‘Of course. But what will you do?'
‘ Chetwyn says I must go somewhere where no-one knows me, and that when the baby is born, it must be sent away to foster parents.'
‘Oh Lucy, I'm sorry,' James said in quick sympathy.
‘ Well, I must say it seems rather hard,' she said, 'but I can see why Chetwyn says it must be that way. Only I'm not look ing forward to it at all, and I can't think where to go to have the baby. If it's somewhere I'm not known, it must be a very dull place indeed, and I shall have to be all alone, without friends.'
‘ You should stay somewhere in Yorkshire,' James said, ‘then I could come and visit you from time to time, to cheer you up.'
‘Oh, Jamie, would you?'
‘ Of course. Why don't you go to Scarborough? That's a jolly place, and the sea air would be very good for you.'
‘ Don't be silly! Everyone knows me in Scarborough,' Lucy said. 'Besides —’
But James's face had lit up. Envisaging the route to Scar borough, he had come across the perfect solution. 'Why didn't I think of it before? Of course, you must go and stay with Héloïse! She is the kindest creature in the world, and sensible, and as good as a sister to you; and that little village is as far from civilisation as you need. You can be quite private there. No-one need know who you are.