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.
“AN adventuress!” said Lady Lindon deeply. “Her father was a gamester.”
“So was mine,” remarked her nephew, a grimace half-rueful, half amused twisting his lean face.
Lady Lindon closed her fan with a snap. “In the most gentlemanly way!” she said with asperity. “I have yet to learn that my poor brother junketted about the Continent keeping disreputable gaming-houses!”
“Was that the late Mr. Varley’s profession?”
“Certainly. I obtained the fullest intelligence from Fotherham. There can be no doubt. Moreover, her aunt, with whom she is now residing, keeps a gaming-house in St. James’ Square.”
“A Banking lady!” remarked Sir Henry. “Well, well! Did you say she was engaged to Kit?”
“It is a pity he is so rich,” went on Sir Henry. “I daresay she thought the title an inducement, too What a fool the boy is!”
“All young men are fools,” stated Lady Lindon. “Christopher must be saved from the consequences of his own folly. That, my dear Harry, is why I have sent for you.”
“Do you think you were wise, ma’am? I’ve no tact, you know.”
“Tact,” said her ladyship briskly, “is not needed. The creature must be bought off. You may depend upon it that that is her object.”
Sir Henry looked sceptical. “More likely she means to keep her claws in the lad.”
“Fiddle!” said Lady Lindon. “She must know very well that his family would never permit him to marry so disastrously.”
Sir Henry dragged himself out of his chair, and walked over to the fireplace. He was a tall, lean man, dressed in a plum-coloured coat and buff riding-breeches, and a plain cravat tied carelessly round his throat. “My dear ma’am, if this daughter of faro is determined, how is Kit’s family to prevent the marriage?”
Lady Lindon unfurled her fan again, and began to wave it to and fro. “I shall make inquiries into her past.” she announced. “Christopher’s eyes must be opened. You will see the young female, Harry, and I have little doubt that you will contrive to frighten her into releasing your unfortunate cousin from whatever promises he may have made.”
Sir Henry laughed. “You flatter me, ma’am, indeed you do!”
“Pray don’t be provoking, Harry! You must know very well how to deal with designing females. I suppose matters could be made unpleasant for that odious woman, her aunt.”
“Who is the aunt?” inquired Sir Henry.
“Mrs. De Lisle. She has been holding a faro bank for the last three years, and I’ve heard that the play is not above suspicion.”
Sir Henry gave a low whistle of surprise. “Old Sally De Lisle!” he exclaimed. “Now, who’d have thought of it? I know her quite well.”
“I imagined you might,” said his aunt austerely. “But if you can tell me how an innocent boy like Christopher can have got into her clutches I shall be grateful to you!”
“Why, that’s mighty touching, to be sure. I’ll see what I can do, ma’am.”
“I’ve no notion what the creature may demand, or how far he is pledged. I shall leave it to your discretion. Only do not fail. Harry!”
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.