Heyer for Austenites: If You Love Persuasion

INTRODUCTION

My favourite Austen novel is Persuasion (1817). I love Anne Elliot, her steadfastness and willingness to learn. I revel in the theme of love lost and regained and the glorious ending with Captain Wentworth’s wonderful letter. The romance is subtle and nuanced but so powerful that it stays with you long after the last page is turned.

I have a similar experience when reading Heyer’s Sprig Muslin (1956). Hester Theale is superbly realised and the romance is heightened by her refusal to marry the man she secretly loves. She believes love is lost to her but Heyer’s deft pen brings all to rights in a comic scene that is as funny as it is romantic.

Less comic, but more poignant is Heyer’s most realistic Regency novel, A Civil Contract (1961). One of my absolute favourites, Jenny Chawleigh often reminds me of Anne Elliot and Adam Deveril has many of the same characteristics as Frederick Wentworth. Like Persuasion with its lively Musgrove family, A Civil Contract, also has Adam’s sister, Lydia, and Jenny’s father, Jonathan Chawleigh, to add vibrancy and humour to the tale. Although in Heyer’s story the petulant and beautiful Julia in does not complain as much as ‘poor’ Mary Musgrove in Persuasion, she is just as inclined to feel slighted when she is not the centre of attention. A truly thoughtful book about love and family, A Civil Contract is a worthy read after Persuasion.

CONCLUSION: If you love Persuasion, read A Civil Contract.


Which is your favourite Austen novel? Did you know there is a Georgette Heyer novel to match it in mood and spirit? Tune in tomorrow for the next post in this new series by famed literary scholar Jennifer Kloester, author of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World and the forthcoming masterwork Jane Austen’s Ghost.

Heyer for Austenites: If You Love Northanger Abbey

INTRODUCTION

Fans of Austen’s Northanger Abbey (1817) will likely enjoy Heyer’s own take on the Gothic parody in The Reluctant Widow (1946). An early Heyer Regency, she has her tongue firmly in her cheek when recounting Elinor Rochdale’s story of a midnight marriage, a gloomy house, a tyrannical lord and a dark mystery. This is a romp in the best Heyer tradition.

Many years later Heyer wrote a more serious Gothic novel. Cousin Kate (1968) has all the elements of the genre with an orphaned heroine invited to live with her mysterious aunt in a great house in the country. Aunt Minerva has a diabolical plan involving Kate’s disturbed cousin Torquil and there is drama aplenty as Kate must navigate her way to safety and security. Heyer’s third-last novel, it is unique in the Heyer canon.

CONCLUSION: If you love Northanger Abbey, read The Reluctant Widow.

TOMORROW: Persuasion!


Which is your favourite Austen novel? Did you know there is a Georgette Heyer novel to match it in mood and spirit? Tune in tomorrow for the next post in this new series by famed literary scholar Jennifer Kloester, author of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World and the forthcoming masterwork Jane Austen’s Ghost.

Heyer for Austenites: If You Love Emma

INTRODUCTION

The influence of Austen’s cleverest novel, Emma (1815), may be seen in several Heyer novels, including The Foundling¸ Lady of Quality, The Grand Sophy and The Unknown Ajax. Maria Farlow in Lady of Quality is undoubtedly Miss Bates’s literary descendant, while Sophy Stanton-Lacy in The Grand Sophy (1950) is every bit as managing as Austen’s Emma Woodhouse and far more successful in her schemes for the betterment of other people’s lives.

Gender-swapping the character, Hugo Darracott in The Unknown Ajax (1959) proves to be a brilliant manipulator in an emergency, but he is a far more subtle manager than Emma. It is in The Foundling (1948) that Heyer draws direct inspiration from Emma with her foolish orphan Belinda desperately in love with the Robert Martin-esque Mr Mudgley and causing problems for all who cross her path. Like Emma, Gilly, Duke of Sale, does his best to solve the difficulties of his nearest and dearest, and like Emma, he is thwarted at almost every turn.

Of course, Heyer’s story is very different from Austen’s, but it is highly entertaining read with enough Austen moments to delight the biggest fan.

CONCLUSION: If you love Emma, read The Grand Sophy and The Foundling.

TOMORROW: Northanger Abbey!


Which is your favourite Austen novel? Did you know there is a Georgette Heyer novel to match it in mood and spirit? Tune in tomorrow for the next post in this new series by famed literary scholar Jennifer Kloester, author of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World and the forthcoming masterwork Jane Austen’s Ghost.

Heyer for Austenites: If You Love Mansfield Park

INTRODUCTION

Both Cotillion (1953) and The Nonesuch (1962) contain strong echoes of Mansfield Park (1814), with their stories of women forced into dependency and reliance on the goodwill of wealthier family members or, in the case of Ancilla Trent in the latter book, the generosity of her employer. Like Austen’s Fanny Price, Kitty and Ancilla are moral women each endowed with a naïveté that helps to drive the plot and ensures their eventual happy ending.

Another Heyer novel with hints of Mansfield Park is The Quiet Gentleman (1951). Here the Dowager St Erth reminds the reader of Mrs Norris (and also of Lady Catherine de Bourgh), while Drusilla has the same kind of moral courage as Fanny. Her resolve and her love of the hero is also equally unshakable.

CONCLUSION: If you love Mansfield Park, read The Quiet Gentleman.

TOMORROW: Emma


Which is your favourite Austen novel? Did you know there is a Georgette Heyer novel to match it in mood and spirit? Tune in tomorrow for the next post in this new series by famed literary scholar Jennifer Kloester, author of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World and the forthcoming masterwork Jane Austen’s Ghost.

Heyer for Austenites: If You Love Pride and Prejudice

INTRODUCTION

Austen’s most popular novel, Pride and Prejudice (1813), has become an iconic story and Heyer uses its basic plot of misunderstanding and instant dislike between hero and heroine in several of her books. Sylvester, Arabella, Regency Buck, Bath Tangle¸ Faro’s Daughter and The Grand Sophy all have strong elements of both pride and prejudice between the stories’ main protagonists and, though the stories are very different from each other and from Austen’s tale, there are plenty of Austenesque moments to delight both the Austen and the Heyer reader.

Perhaps Sylvester (1957) draws closest to Pride and Prejudice. In it, the heroine, Phoebe Marlow, is condescended to by Sylvester, Duke of Salford at a ball. She sees him as arrogant, while he is barely aware of her existence. Sparks fly when these two are thrown together and, though the story is unlike any Austen novel, for the discerning reader there are many moments when Heyer takes delight in paying homage to her favourite author.

It is the heroine’s pride that drives the story in Faro’s Daughter (1941). Deb is enraged when she discovers that Max Ravenscar thinks she is a wench out of a gaming house determined to ensnare his nephew into marrying her. She resolves to teach Mr Ravenscar a lesson, while he is determined to put her firmly in her place. Arrogance and anger combine to create a fiery romance.

CONCLUSION: CONCLUSION: If you love Pride and Prejudice, read Sylvester and Faro’s Daughter.

TOMORROW: Mansfield Park!


Which is your favourite Austen novel? Did you know there is a Georgette Heyer novel to match it in mood and spirit? Tune in tomorrow for the next post in this new series by famed literary scholar Jennifer Kloester, author of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World and the forthcoming masterwork Jane Austen’s Ghost.

Heyer for Austenites: If You Love Sense and Sensibility

INTRODUCTION

Austen’s first novel, Sense and Sensibility (1811), is also the first Austen novel mentioned in a Heyer story. In Regency Buck (1935), the heroine Judith Taverner comes across the book in Hookham’s Library and is instantly attracted to the writer’s style. She observes “Surely the writer of that must possess a lively mind? I am determined to take this book. It seems all to be written about ordinary people…”

It is clear that Heyer admired the novel and thirty years later she would use its basic plot of two very different sisters – one all sense and the other all sensibility – in her own novel, Frederica (1965). A highly entertaining story, Heyer’s sisters are also emotional opposites, but the plot carries them in a very different direction from Austen’s tale.

In False Colours (1963), Heyer again uses the “sense and sensibility” plot device, only this time instead of sisters, she portrays twin brothers in a lively tale of impersonation and revelation. Kit is all sense and Evelyn has a taste for the dramatic.

CONCLUSION: If you love Sense and Sensibility, read Frederica and False Colours.

TOMORROW: Pride and Prejudice!


Which is your favourite Austen novel? Did you know there is a Georgette Heyer novel to match it in mood and spirit? Tune in tomorrow for the next post in this new series by famed literary scholar Jennifer Kloester, author of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World and the forthcoming masterwork Jane Austen’s Ghost.

Heyer for Austenites: An Introduction

Georgette Heyer

Jane Austen was Georgette Heyer’s favourite novelist. Introduced to Austen by her literary father, Heyer read Austen from a young age, imbibing her tone and style and developing an appreciation of the kind of ironic comedy at which Austen excelled. It is no coincidence that Heyer’s most successful novels are those set in same period in which Austen herself lived and wrote her famous books.

Jane Austen

It has been said that Georgette Heyer is the next best thing after reading Jane Austen. While Heyer herself would have been the first to declare she was not in Austen’s league, her historical novels have their own genius. In part this may be because many of Heyer’s novels find their roots in one or more of the six books that made Jane Austen famous. Heyer never directly imitates Austen, but instead used elements of Austen’s stories as the starting point for her own original works. The seeds sown by Austen’s literary genius are evident in many of Heyer’s plots, characters and dialogue, as well as in her penchant for depicting human foibles via comic irony.

For those of you who love Austen, across the next two weeks I’ll be delivering some Austen-Heyer pairings which I hope will give as much pleasure to readers as the pairing of delicious food and exceptional wine.


Which is your favourite Austen novel? Did you know there is a Georgette Heyer novel to match it in mood and spirit? Tune in tomorrow for the first post in this new series by famed literary scholar Jennifer Kloester, author of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World and the forthcoming masterwork Jane Austen’s Ghost.

“Pharaoh’s Daughter” by Georgette Heyer Illustrations

Published in 1937 under the objectionable title “Lady, Your Pardon — it was changed by Woman’s Journal editor Dorothy Sutherland, who had a sad habit of renaming Heyer’s works — this short story would go on to be the inspiration for Georgette Heyer’s 1941 novel Faro’s Daughter.

Lighter in tone, and with a far less disagreeable hero, many of that novel’s plot points are nevertheless encompassed in this story, so SPOILER WARNING for Faro’s Daughter!

We  have been pleased to publish the story at Heyer Society under the author’s preferred title. Read it here.


ILLUSTRATION FROM THE AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S WEEKLY

The story appeared alongside this frankly gorgeous image:

Isn’t Deborah Varley beautiful? No wonder Sir Henry falls head over heels.

Read the story here:

PART I | PART II | PART III | PART IV | ILLUSTRATIONS


SOURCE: Heyer, Georgette. “Lady, Your Pardon.” The Australian Woman’s Weekly, 3 Apr. 1937.

NOW AVAILABLE! Acting on Impulse — Contemporary Short Stories by Georgette Heyer.

BUY IT HERE!

 

“Pharaoh’s Daughter” Part IV by Georgette Heyer

Published in 1937 under the objectionable title “Lady, Your Pardon — it was changed by Woman’s Journal editor Dorothy Sutherland, who had a sad habit of renaming Heyer’s works — this short story would go on to be the inspiration for Georgette Heyer’s 1941 novel Faro’s Daughter.

Lighter in tone, and with a far less disagreeable hero, many of that novels plot points are nevertheless encompassed in this story, so SPOILER WARNING for Faro’s Daughter!

We  are pleased to publish the story here under the author’s preferred title.


PHARAOH’S DAUGHTER BY GEORGETTE HEYER

Deborah never played a more reckless game than the one where love was the stake.

IV

HE lodged in Half Moon Street, and was at his breakfast next morning when the retired gentleman’s gentleman who owned the house brought up a visiting card on a tray. He picked it up, and read the inscription on it in some surprise. Mr. Robert Varley ran the legend. “This becomes interesting,” remarked Sir Henry.

“Show him up, Withers.” He looked at the card again, and finally laid it down on the table. “And who the devil may Mr. Robert Varley be?” he wondered.

In a few moments the door was opened again, and Withers announced the visitor. A slim young man in a long, enveloping cloak and a very elegant hat strode into the room, and stiffly bowed to him.

“Sir Henry Morville?” he said crisply.

 

Sir Henry returned the bow, and looked at him searchingly.

“I sent up my card,” said his guest. “It had not perhaps occurred to you that Miss Deborah Varley might possess a brother?”

“No, but to tell you the truth I had not given the matter much thought,” said Sir Henry.

“I may readily believe that,” said Mr. Varley. “It is unfortunate for you that she is not without a natural protector.”

Sir Henry seemed to find this amusing. He laughed, and said: “But why? I’m sure I wish her joy of her protector.”

Mr. Varley looked across at him, and said in a hard, clear voice: “Sir Henry, last night you saw fit to insult my sister. I am here to answer you. She promised, did she not, that you should hear from her?”

“She did,” agreed Sir Henry.

Mr. Varley brought his left arm out from the folds of his cloak. In it were cradled two slender smallswords, identical in size and design. He laid them down on the table, took off his cloak, and flung it over a chair, tossing his gloves after it.

“We seem now to be in a state of siege,” remarked Sir Henry. “Would you have me bolt the windows?”

Mr. Varley ignored this pleasantry. Coming back into the centre of the room, he stopped by the table and, laying his hand on the duelling swords, said coldly: “I have a message for you from my sister, Sir Henry, which I wish to deliver before coming to the main object of my call. In your assumption that my Lord Lindon had made my sister an offer for her hand, you were correct; but the inference you drew from this circumstance was not only false but an impertinence. It may be of interest to you to learn that his lordship’s suit was at the outset rejected.”

“Great interest,” said Sir Henry.

Mr. Varley’s hand clenched. “You no doubt find this rejection of what you appear to consider a splendid match difficult to believe. I shall refer you to Lord Lindon himself who, whatever his aspiration, will not, I think, deny the truth of what I say. My sister has further charged me to inform you that her age being five-and-twenty years and his lordship not yet having reached his one-and-twentieth birthday, the thought of matrimony between them had seemed to her an absurdity only the very foolish could suppose at all possible.”

Sir Henry smiled, and bowed. “I thank you.”

“Furthermore,” said Mr. Varley, still in that cold voice of anger, “my sister would have you know that even a gamester’s daughter may have not only reputation, but honour. She is not to be bought, sir! Had you known that there was a man behind her, I daresay you might have hesitated before making her an offer which was as unnecessary as it was insulting!”

“You wrong me,” said Sir Henry amiably.

 

A contemptuous laugh broke from Mr. Varley. He shrugged his shoulders, and replied: “You would naturally say as much.”

“You know, you are fast becoming offensive,” said Sir Henry.

“It’s my intention. Do you expect me to apologise?” flashed Mr. Varley.

“Devil a bit. I think you expect an apology from me.”

“I do,” said Mr. Varley. “Do you choose to make one?”

“What, at the sword’s point?” said Sir Henry, levelling his quizzing-glass at the weapons under Mr. Varley’s hand. “No, my young friend, I do not.”

Mr. Varley drew a long breath.

“You shall make one,” he said. “Believe me, you shall make one. How dared you suppose my sister a creature you could bribe? What cause had you to think her an adventuress bent on trapping a boy scarce out of the schoolroom?”

Sir Henry answered deliberately, watching that stormy face rather intently: “Had I no cause then? What should I have expected of one of faro’s daughters? Tell me by what sign I should have guessed that a female sharing the profits of a house where the play is not above question possessed this rare nobility of character?”

Mr. Varley took a quick step towards him. “You lie. The play is straight!”

Sir Henry laughed.

Mr. Varley swung round, snatched up his swords and presented them on his arms, hilts foremost. “Choose, you!” he commanded.

“Take them away,” said Sir Henry, snapping his fingers at them. “I don’t fight gamesters—or striplings.”

“You will fight me.” said Mr. Varley, and struck him across the mouth.

Sir Henry looked down at him, his brow creased. “Are you serious? Do you really wish to cross swords with me?”

“Good heavens, do you need further proof?” demanded Mr. Varley. “I have no greater ambition than to put two feet of steel through you.”

Sir Henry’s eyes were gleaming with laugher. “Egad, I’ll do it,” he said.

“Here and now,” said Mr. Varley. “Anywhere you like,” replied Sir Henry. “If we are to be irregular, why, let us be irregular!”

Mr. Varley presented his swords once more. “Do not imagine that I am unaware of the rules governing such affairs as these,” he said. “I am perfectly conversant with the Code of Honour, but in this country I have no friends whom I can call upon to act for me.”

“Don’t give it a thought,” said Sir Henry, grasping one of the hilts. “If we push the table into the next room we shall have space enough, which is all that need concern us.”

He laid the sword he had chosen across a chair and walked over to the doors shutting off his bedchamber. These he flung open, and in a minute or two had swept his sitting-room bare of most of its moveable furniture. Mr. Varley, meanwhile, had kicked off his shoes, and extricated himself from his coat and waistcoat. He took up his position at one end of the room, his left arm hanging loosely at his side, the right straight, holding his sword with the point a bare inch from the floor in front of his right foot.

Sir Henry picked up his sword, brought it to the same prescribed position, and said: “Well, you shall have your satisfaction, Mr. Varley.”

He raised his sword in a formal salute, and the blades engaged.

Sir Henry had the advantage of a longer reach than Mr. Varley, but the younger man, pressing a vicious attack, had both pace and a good style, and for the first minute or two kept his more experienced opponent on the defensive. But Sir Henry’s defence was extremely good. Mr. Varley, feinting a disengagement into sixte from quarte, found his feint foreseen and countered with a swift, effortless dexterity that surprised him, and for a moment lost his proper time.

He recovered, but began to fence with more care. Once he allowed Sir Henry, deceiving the parry of counter-seconds, to break through his guard. The point flickered perilously near his heart, but was withdrawn. He gave a gasp, but kept his eyes fixed on Sir Henry’s.

He saw Sir Henry’s blade waver for one careless moment, and like a flash seized the opportunity to deliver a straight thrust in quarte. His point was aimed for the body but found instead the upper arm, just above the elbow

Touche!” said Sir Henry, and dropped his point.

Mr. Varley was panting, and the sweat rolled down his face. He, too, let his point fall and stared with knit brows at the red stain on Sir Henry’s torn sleeve. He brushed the back of his hand across his wet forehead, and jerked out: “How was it done? Tell me!”

Sir Henry’s lips twitched. “You should know – you did it.”

Mr. Varley shook his head. “No! That beat—deflecting the point, it wasn’t possible!”

Sir Henry drew out his handkerchief from the pocket of his breeches and twisted it round his arm. “I was too late on the parry,” he replied evasively.

Mr. Varley stamped his foot. “No, I tell you! Do you think me a fool? You wounded yourself!”

Sir Henry smiled. “Just a trick. I did not learn my sword play in an English school.”

“Faith! I thought I knew all the tricks. But to bring your blade within mine then—is it deep?”

“Well, not quite two feet,” said Sir Henry apologetically.

Mr. Varley flushed, and laying down his sword came up to Sir Henry and took the handkerchief from him and bound it round the wound and tied it. “It’s nothing. A mere scratch,” he said.

“Why did you do it?”

Sir Henry met the challenge in his eyes, and said: “Did you think I would run you through?”

“I know of no reason why you should not,” retorted Mr. Varley quickly.

“Oh, do you not? Perhaps it was as well that I did know of one,” said Sir Henry. “Tell me now, why did you challenge me to this desperate encounter?”

“I wanted to kill you.”

Sir Henry picked up his sword, and presented the hilt. “If that is your humour do your worst,” he invited. “Come, run me through. I will confess I deserve it.”

“Oh, fiend seize you, I suppose you have guessed the truth!” snapped Mr. Varley.

“Why, yes, did you think I should not?”

“Of course, I thought you would not. Good Lord, I have masqueraded in man’s clothes many a time!” She paused and regarded him reflectively. “Did I give myself away? I have never done so before.”

“Well, do you know, I did not feel that so young a man as you appeared to be would be very likely to call my cousin ‘a boy scarce out of the schoolroom’,” explained Sir Henry.

“Was that all?”

He shook his head. “No, I think I must always recognise you. Will you accept my apologies for the wrong I did you?”

She shrugged, and turned away to pick up her coat and waistcoat. “Oh, I’m satisfied!”

He took the coat from her, and held it for her to put on. As she thrust her arms into it, he said conversationally: “But you shall not marry my cousin, for all that.”

She pulled out her ruffles and patted them into place. “Are we not agreed on that? I’d never a notion of marrying him.” She heaved a short sigh. “Oh, well, let us be honest! Perhaps I played with the thought—no more than that.” She picked up her sword and wiped it on her handkerchief.

“Why? To be a viscountess, or to escape from gaming?”

She did not answer for a moment, but stood mechanically wiping her blade. Then she tossed the stained and crumpled handkerchief into the fireplace, and said with a slight laugh: “Oh, to be a viscountess, of course. Good Lord, do you picture me a martyr? You’re wrong, Sir Harry!”

“Am I?” He took the sword out of her hand, and laid it aside. “Marry me!”

She was startled, but she smiled a little. “Now what’s this?” she demanded.

“It’s a proposal,” he replied. “They run in my family.”

She put her head on one side. “Egad! Does madness also?”

“Not a whit,” he answered cheerfully.

“My dear man, it’s mad or foxed you must be! You know nothing of me!”

“Nothing. Yet I think the instant I saw you I knew I loved you.”

She said lightly: “Is it an affliction you’re much subject to, sir?”

“No, not in all my wanderings.”

She grasped a chairback. “Ah, you’re surely crazy! One of faro’s daughters for your wife!”

“Why not?” he said coolly. “I count myself quite one of faro’s sons. My late father was as hardened a gamester as your own.”

“You’ve said you know nothing of me. There may be things I dare not tell you.”

“I don’t think it,” he answered, looking down at her.

Her face puckered, but she contrived to smile. “Come, that’s handsome of you! There’s nothing I dare not tell you or any man.”

He came close to her, and gathered her hands in his. “I’ve a strong notion we were made for each other. Will you marry me?”

She pulled one hand away, and adjusted the bandage round his arm. “Myself, I’ve a strong notion I should tighten this handkerchief. You are bleeding a trifle.”

He recaptured her hand. “Let it be. Will you marry me?”

“If I may tie up your arm, perhaps.”

He let her go. “Tie it, then.”

Her fingers became busy about the knot of the handkerchief. She said: “I fence well, don’t I?”

“Very well. Who taught you?”

“My father. Will you show me that trick?”

“If you will marry me, perhaps.”

She smiled, tied the handkerchief up again, and raised her face. “My dear, didn’t I know the instant I laid eyes on you? And what must you do but bribe me to let your cousin go!”

He took her in his arms, and held her very close, and said, smiling down into her eyes: “But I’ve no tact, you know!”

THE END

PART I | PART II | PART III | PART IV | ILLUSTRATIONS


SOURCE: Heyer, Georgette. “Lady, Your Pardon.” The Australian Woman’s Weekly, 3 Apr. 1937.

NOW AVAILABLE! Acting on Impulse — Contemporary Short Stories by Georgette Heyer.

BUY IT HERE!

 

“Pharaoh’s Daughter” Part III by Georgette Heyer

Published in 1937 under the objectionable title “Lady, Your Pardon — it was changed by Woman’s Journal editor Dorothy Sutherland, who had a sad habit of renaming Heyer’s works — this short story would go on to be the inspiration for Georgette Heyer’s 1941 novel Faro’s Daughter.

Lighter in tone, and with a far less disagreeable hero, many of that novels plot points are nevertheless encompassed in this story, so SPOILER WARNING for Faro’s Daughter!

We  are pleased to publish the story here under the author’s preferred title.


PHARAOH’S DAUGHTER BY GEORGETTE HEYER

Deborah never played a more reckless game than the one where love was the stake.

III

IT was midnight before Sir Henry rose from the table. His fortune had fluctuated but he rose a slight winner, and, pocketing his guineas, strolled towards the velvet curtains, and went through them to the room where the refreshments, tea, coffee and rum-punch, were spread on a long table.

Deborah Varley was standing in the centre of the room with Christopher at her elbow and several other men gathered about. She seemed to have the knack of collecting a court round her. There was a twinkle in her eye, and a glass in her hand. All but Christopher were laughing at something she had said: he merely watched her with troubled, admiring eyes.

She glanced towards the curtains as Sir Henry lounged in, and said immediately: “Ah, now, here’s my unknown admirer come to join us. Christopher, my dear, a glass of punch for the gentleman.”

Lord Lindon said eagerly, “Deb, it’s my cousin. I want you to meet him. Let me present him to you. Sir Henry Morville – Miss Varley!”

She held out a hand not small, but very shapely. “Lord, he’s in transports!” she said, laughing. “Oh, sir, I’m honored!”

“Ma’am!” said Slr Henry, bowing deeply over her hand. “But have we not met before?”

She frowned at him. “Have we? I don’t recall it.”

“At Rome?” said Sir Henry, at a guess. “Or was it Dresden?”

“Both, it may be,” she replied. “I have been about the world a little.”

Slr Henry indicated his surroundings with a wave of his hand. “I seem to remember just such an establishment as this—oh, and its charming châtelaine!”

Christopher made a restless movement, and said quickly: “Oh, nonsense! You’re mistaken, Harry.”

“Egad, I think he’s mistaken,” agreed Deborah, her eyes on Sir Henry’s face. “But it might be true. I’ve been châtelaine of a dozen such houses as this,”

“Deb,” Christopher protested. “We need not talk of that, surely!”

“Why not?” she said. “Faith, isn’t your cousin itching to talk over old times?”

“Say, rather, to renew an old acquaintanceship,” corrected Sir Henry.

She seemed to consider him for a moment, then she drained her glass and set it down. “Come, then: let’s renew it. You know, you interest me.” She put her hand on his arm, and dismissed

Lord Lindon with a smile and a friendly nod. “Run away, child: run away and play! It’s what you came for, after all.” She withdrew with Sir Henry into a smaller room adjoining, and there faced him, still faintly amused and a good deal curious. “Now, sir, what’s your will?” she asked abruptly. “I never laid eyes on you before in my life, that I’ll swear.”

He laughed. “My dear ma’am, amongst the many how should I expect to hold a place in your memory?”

She frowned upon him but more out of puzzlement than anger. “Do you know, I’ve a notion you’re trying to be insolent?” she said.

“The devil’s in it. I’ve no tact.” he apologised. “Forgive me! I believe you are right, and I have not met you before.”

“So? Now why?”

He grinned. “My dear, had I had that inestimable pleasure I must have made it my business to impress myself on your memory.”

She smiled a little. “Lord, am I to take that for a compliment? Making love to me seems to run in your family ”

“Making love to you might well run in any family,” responded Sir Henry. “But I fear Lord Lindon’s is only calf love—hardly worthy of you!”

“Tut-tut, don’t you know he wants to make me a viscountess?” said Deborah.

“These impetuous children!” sighed Sir Henry, shaking his head. “Now, you and I, ma’am, being of the world, as they say, know how to value that kind of fond ambition.”

“Well, I’ve a kindness for Kit,” remarked Deborah. “I doubt he means to do honestly by me. A viscountess, now! And me a gamester’s daughter! Not but what my father was born a gentleman—if he was to be believed.” She cast a swift look at Sir Henry, an expression of dawning comprehension in her eyes. “Faith, I wonder if we’ve reached the root of the matter, Sir Cousin?”

“We’ve reached it,” nodded Sir Henry, swinging his eyeglass.

She moved towards a chair, and sat down on the arm of it. “To think I took so long to guess it! Do I disturb the noble Lindons?”

“In certain circumstances you might,” he replied. “I’m a trifle disturbed myself, and I’m no Lindon. I admit I thought Kit a fool—but I had not met you then. You’re unexpected, Miss Varley. I wish I had met you—in Rome or Dresden.”

She said slowly: “For the life of me I can’t tell why, but I’ve taken an odd liking to you. What do you want of me? My word I won’t marry your little cousin?”

“Just that,” said Sir Henry.

She looked mischievous. “What, am I to forgo the pleasure of being a viscountess? This is hard, indeed! What’s to become of me if I let such a rare chance slip?”

“There would be certain compensations, of course,” said Sir Henry, pensively.

The smile lingered about her mouth, but quite vanished from her eyes. She looked intently at him. “Well, let’s have the button off that foil of yours, sir. Explain the compensations to me.”

Sir Henry produced a snuff-box from one capacious pocket, and flicked it open. Holding a pinch to one nostril, he sniffed; and said meditatively: “A viscount doesn’t rank high in the peerage. Shall we rate him at five hundred pounds?”

Her eyes had darkened, but there was a glow in them. “So that’s your errand, is it?” She got up, and pulled the scarf round her shoulders. “I thank you for the bid, Sir Cousin. It’s refused.”

He said sardonically: “Not high enough? Bethink you a little. The boy’s relatives won’t let him ruin his life easily. They’ll pay in reason, but beyond reason they might prefer to fight instead.”

“Make up your mind,” she said jeeringly. “Do you come to bribe or to threaten?”

“Whichever you choose,” he said.

“By Heaven, you can do neither!” she said. “But I promise you, you shall hear from me.” She bent, and caught up her train, and swept past him out of the room.

He looked frowningly after her, and slowly shut and fobbed his snuff-box, and having restored it to his pocket strolled back into the gaming-rooms.

Continued >>>

PART I | PART II | PART III | PART IV | ILLUSTRATIONS


SOURCE: Heyer, Georgette. “Lady, Your Pardon.” The Australian Woman’s Weekly, 3 Apr. 1937.

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