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Daisy 19-21

May 19, 2018 11:57AM
Chapter 19

The early night meant that Daisy might rise early, which suited her. Saunders brought the mail to her over breakfast. She recognised Mr. Embury’s hand on one of the items of mail, a heavy packet, which she discovered quickly was the prenuptial settlement contract. Daisy read this through with great care, made a note of amendments she felt could be made, and set it aside for Julian to look through, after asking her grandmother to look it over. Mrs. Ellis had told Amelia not to try to keep up with Daisy’s early rising, as she was quite capable of chaperoning her herself, if Mr. Nettleby should turn up early. Mrs. Ellis had only got into the habit of late rising to avoid her sister-in-law.
“He’s very good, or rather, he was very good,” said Mrs. Ellis. “Very watertight.”
“Mr. Everard was always very good to me,” said Daisy, softly. It was not appropriate to wear mourning, but she had compromised by wearing white muslin only, trimmed with black ribbons, and grey gloves, save for her dark red undergown on the one day it might prove necessary. She would observe mourning for the week custom decreed for cousins.
She turned to the other letter, which was franked with a scrawl so illegible, she had no idea who it might be. She shrugged and opened it. At least being franked, the writer had felt no requirement to write a crabbed hand or cross the lines to save cost to the recipient. It had been forwarded by Mr. Embury.

“Hatherbere Court
14th June

My dear Margaret,
I am sure you are happy for a great uncle to use your given name, I see no necessity to call you ‘Miss Ellis’.”

“Well, that’s irritated me to start with,” said Daisy. “Grandmama, do I have a great uncle?”
“You have several; I do not believe all of your maternal grandfather’s brothers are dead,” said Mrs. Ellis. “Your great uncle Hatherbere is the current baron, William Hawe is his family name, and I believe Admiral Sir Samuel Hawe is alive. Captain Mark Hawe died, I believe, fighting in America. On your father’s side, there’s my brother, of course, but that is not his handwriting; your paternal grandfather was an only child of a cadet branch, though I suppose it is not out of the way for a cousin of his to claim to be a great uncle for ease.”
“Oh, you have solved the mystery, for it is written from a place called Hatherbere Court, and the signature is Wm. Hawe, and then a scrawl I take to be Hatherbere,” said Daisy.
“I wonder what he wants, so suddenly,” said Mrs. Ellis. “Could it be that he has heard of your wealth? Your great grandfather was a gamester; it’s why your mother was not keen on card games, and your grandfather and his brothers Samuel and Mark had to take some kind of vocation, as the barony was not as wealthy as it might have been.”
“Well, I shall find out,” said Daisy, reading on.
“I have recently learned of your existence; my brother, Joe, your grandfather, became quite reclusive, and other than the birth of your mother I have heard nothing of your family until I recently became aware that your parents were dead, and that you had been left orphaned. I understand your paternal grandmother yet lives, but that you are, or have been, in an orphan asylum. This is a terrible state of affairs I should not have permitted to continue had I known before learning that you are now independently wealthy and in no need to earn your way as a governess. A Hawe does not enter such demeaning service.
I would, however, like to open my home to you, and to your grandmother. You have a cousin, my grandson, I believe the relationship is removed once each way, Hugh is, I believe, a year or two older than you are, so you would not be devoid of young people at Hatherbere Court.
Please let me know when you will arrive,
Wm. Hawe, Hatherbere.”

“What cheek!” said Daisy. “How dare he assume that I am going to accept?”
“I knew Joseph Hawe well enough to be aware that he was pleased to have escaped his relatives, who were very high-handed in disposing of their family matters,” said Mrs. Ellis.
“Well, I shall let him know that I am not to be whistled to heel like a gun dog,” said Daisy.
“Drink a cup of tea first and calm down,” said Mrs. Ellis. “I expect he intends you to marry this Hugh, and recoup the family fortunes.”
“Definitely cheek,” said Daisy.
“Would you have gone if the letter had arrived before you went to Swanley? Or if you were at Swanley but unhappy?” asked Mrs. Ellis.
Daisy considered.
“If I had been asked before, I would have known it was a genuine family enquiry, not an interest in my fortune,” she said. “It might still be a genuine family enquiry, but the timing of it leaves me very wary. I believe I might have suggested going to them for the holidays; because that way I could hedge my bets.”
“Where do you pick up such vulgarities!”
“Marianne or the twins probably,” shrugged Daisy. “Parents ought not to be allowed to say things they don’t want their innocent daughters and their friends to repeat.”
“No, they should not,” said Mrs. Ellis. “An unfortunate side effect of meeting so many different people in an orphan asylum.”
“I enjoy the richness of the language; and doubtless in a generation or two, many such expressions will have entered everyday parlance. At least I do not regale you with the naval language Cleo knows.”
Mrs. Ellis shuddered.
“No, indeed.”

Julian Nettleby arrived to find Daisy struggling over an epistle designed to be polite but distant, and Daisy passed him the letter from the baron. He read her reply over her shoulder.
“It’s a load of tripe,” he said. “Why don’t you write an effusive letter about how nice it is to find relatives, how sad you are that they were unable to find you before your fortune made you independent, and say you look forward to getting to know them and will invite them to your wedding?”
“Julian, you are quite brilliant,” said Daisy, tearing up the letter designated as tripe.

“16 The Steyne,
18th June 1812

Dear Great-Uncle William,

I was very surprised to get your letter. I had no idea of your existence, but my grandmother assures me that you are a genuine relative, not like the pretended relatives who tried to get one of my friends at Swanley Court School into their clutches to marry their idiot son.”

“That’s a nice touch,” said Julian.
“Yes, I liked it,” said Daisy.

“It would have been nice to have had other relatives when I was at my most destitute, especially relatives ready to give a home to my grandmother which was not on sufferance, as her life was with her sister-in-law. However, one cannot expect such familial efficiency I suppose.”

“Ouch,” said Julian.
“Not too sarcastic?”
“No, just right. They could have found you earlier. If they cared.”
“If they had, who knows? I might even have married this cousin, Hugh.”
“I am glad they are inefficient. Or uncaring of the penniless relatives.”
“Me too.”

“You will be pleased to know that I never needed to be a governess, since those of us with an interest in business are afforded a loan by our benefactress to start a business, and my millinery shop in Fleet Street is doing very well. Of course, if you wish to help out family, you may wish to urge your female relatives to patronise it. I am making enough to have lived on that in some comfort even before I was aware of my parents’ legacy.”

“A baron will not like having a great-niece smelling of shop,” chuckled Julian.
“No, and he will find I can be quite obtuse over why I should give up something which provides me with pleasure as well as extra income, and does my duty in providing employment for others,” said Daisy.

“I am very happy as I am, though perhaps we might consider a visit at Christmas? I will, of course, be married by then, but naturally I will send you and your family an open invitation to the wedding.
You need not worry about me marrying a fortune hunter, for I have had my solicitor draw up a settlement contract which is so tight, no husband can have a chance of touching the capital, and I would not have considered marrying anyone who would not sign such a contract, as my solicitor knows full well, to foil the several abduction attempts of a relative on my father’s side.
Your great-niece,
Margaret Ellis.”

“May I say, that is the politest raising of two fingers to anyone I have ever seen,” said Julian, chuckling.
“Julian, really? I am glad, I want them to know that if they want to know me as a relative, I am happy to know them, but if their sudden familial zeal is for my money, they need to know that they can go fish up a tree for it.”
“It is well done.”
“And now, dear Julian, will you read the prenuptial settlement contract? I want any amendments you feel necessary added, I have noted down a few, if you would look it over.”
Julian read the contract.
It placed the capital of Daisy’s fortune into trust for the heirs of her body, with herself, Mr. Embury, Mr. John Everard and Mrs. Elinor Macfarlane named as trustees, to invest and administer with intent of increase of the trust. If she died without issue, it was to revert to the trust of Swanley Court School. The income was to be divided equally between Daisy and her husband, her half defined as her pin money. The income and ownership of her shop was to remain in her hands.
“I’m happy to sign this as it stands,” said Julian. “Two thousand a year is a lot more than I would have asked for. I know this would shock and horrify a lot of men, but then, I have no instinct for business deals and you do; and I’d be an absolute fool not to leave you in charge of increasing the family fortunes.”
“I don’t want you to have to scrimp and save,” said Daisy. “I want you to dress as well as you wish, be mounted well, and have whichever curricle or vehicle you want. And if you want to invest, then there is nothing stopping you. I will probably make you a partner in the shop, but there is no hurry.”
“I would be happy to live with you on the income from the shop, because there are some things which money cannot buy,” said Julian.
“I had considered telling any suitor that I had lost the mine and we would have to live on the income of the shop,” said Daisy.
“Six hundred a year, ain’t it? That’s plenty,” said Julian. “I’ll be asking you what to do with any monies I don’t spend, though; you have more business acumen than I do. Though I am looking forward to the auctions.”
“Land and property never depreciate, even if ostrich feathers suddenly fall out of fashion,” said Daisy.
“True enough,” said Julian. “Well, Miss Ellis, I may now legally court you.”
“You should propose first,” said Daisy. “We have fallen into far too lax an assumption, and I want you to pop the question with style.”
Julian dropped to one knee.
“Miss Ellis, will you do me the honour of being my wife?” he asked.
“Oh! What a surprise! I will need time to consider,” said Daisy.
“I’ll give you a minute,” said Julian, getting out his watch.
Daisy laughed.
“Julian, I would be delighted to be your wife, so long as you promise never to stop funning and to accept my own sense of humour.”
“I’ll do my best,” said Julian.
“And no man can say fairer than that,” said Daisy. “Now you may officially court me.”
“Should I speak to your grandmother? Or the doctor?”
“Oh, Grandmamma is resigned to me making my own choice, and Dr. Macfarlane told me I, er, ‘cuid gae further and do farrrrr worrrrrse than yon poetical wee sumpf’.”
“What on earth is a sumpf?”
“I think it’s Scots for jackanapes, but he did not say it in a tone of opprobrium. Are you sure you are content with the settlement?”
“Daisy, I am a lazy person, save when I am doing something I want to do. I don’t want to have to administer a fortune; I don’t know how, but it seems a waste to just put it into the funds, which would be what I would do. I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to do a piece of embroidery, so why would I presume to tell you how to manage your money?”
“Julian, I believe I have won myself a most extraordinary man,” said Daisy. “Although I can’t embroider to save my life.”
“Oh, well, nobody can do everything,” said Julian.

The post also brought more invitations to balls and soirées, and Daisy had every intention of attending many of them, even though Julian had happily signed the document and was officially betrothed to her. There was no reason not to have fun.
There was also a rather stilted apology from Rosalie Daventry. Daisy read it, and frowned.
“Grandmamma, should I accept this?” she asked.
Mrs. Ellis read it out loud.
“Dear Miss Ellis,
I find I must apologise for my words and actions on Saturday.
Yours sincerely,
Rosalie Daventry.”

“You are right, Daisy, it is not very gracious. However, I am not sure you will get a better one. You have stated legal action as an alternative, and I would not advise that if you can manage to accept that this is the best you are likely to get without dragging Squire Daventry through the courts. He is not the most tactful of men, but he was ready to offer to let you share his daughters’ governess, before Rosalie began her campaign of spite against you because she could not bear that you did not hide that you are much cleverer than she is. And indeed, you will argue with justification, why should you hide it! But he was kind to us in his own bluff way.”
Daisy nodded.
“I will write an acceptance,” she said.
“Do try not to be too snide,” sighed her grandmother.
“Dear Miss Daventry,
I accept your apology and take it in the spirit in which it was meant. I have no desire to quarrel with your father, who has done nothing to deserve despite.
Yours sincerely,
Margaret Ellis.”

“That, I suppose, is the best one might expect,” said Mrs. Ellis. “You are becoming fairly skilled at writing letters, my dear, which manage to be rude politely.”
“I learned that from you,” chuckled Daisy. “Now, help me to decide which of these invitations to accept, other than by flipping a coin to choose.”

Chapter 20

It was inevitable, of course, that once Rosalie Daventry had apologised, and had her apology duly accepted, that she would appear at the ball that evening.
Whilst Lily smiled, and bowed across the floor to Daisy, Rosalie ignored her entirely, which suited Daisy well enough. It cost Daisy much self-control, however, when she noticed Rosalie tittering with several other girls, who looked towards Daisy as if she had two heads. It was hurtful, but Daisy fought with too-ready tears, keeping her head up, ignoring those who chose to listen to whatever poison Rosalie might pour into the ears of others.
It was heartening that one of the girls Rosalie spoke to coloured, and seemed to speak sharply, leaving the group; and that was Elizabeth Keynes. She made her way across to Daisy.
“Have you any idea what that little cat is saying?” she asked. Daisy shrugged.
“I can make a few guesses,” she said. “She resents me being cleverer than she is, and so makes a lot of my club foot, which has been largely cured.”
“You really did have a club foot? Oh dear, she is using some truth in with her lies, then,” said Elizabeth.
“What has she said now, then?” asked Daisy. “She was accusing me of selling my body because she could not believe I had an inheritance, and her father made her send me a written apology.”
“It’s worse,” said Elizabeth, grimly. “She is saying that you received surgery on a club foot and paid by letting the doctor’s patient with ... a certain disease ... cure himself by taking your virginity.”
“Well, that’s ridiculous on many counts, not least that such a cure would not work, and no doctor would advocate it,” said Daisy. “And the doctor who cured me gave me a brace, not surgery, and being doctor to a girls’ orphan asylum would be unlikely to have any clients with that disease.”
“Oh, I knew it was rubbish, and I said so,” said Elizabeth. “Where is her father?”
“Over there,” Daisy pointed him out.
Elizabeth nodded.
“I think it necessary to tell him about this,” she said. “It is too nasty not to put a stop to it.”
“You do not think it more dignified to ignore it?”
“I do not. It is an attack on your reputation,” said Elizabeth. She moved gracefully across the ballroom floor towards Squire Daventry.
Shortly, there was an explosion from that worthy, who charged through the middle of a reel, disrupting it irretrievably, to grab his older daughter by the wrist, drag her to the nearest chair, on which he sat, in order to put her over his knee to ply his hand, hard.
Daisy winced. In mixed company that was about as humiliating a thing as could be done. What happened next was almost worse; the squire righted his sobbing daughter, and took her by the shoulders, pushing her to the corner of the room.
“And there you will stay all evening, unless you need the usual offices when you will seek me to escort you,” he boomed. “You will not spoil your sister’s evening by forcing her to go home early as well. If you cannot behave better than a child in the nursery, then by G-d I will treat you like a child in the nursery! If you think I intend to go to gaol for your lies you can think again, miss!”
He turned his back on her and marched over to Daisy.
“My apologies, Miss Ellis, for my daughter, who is not old enough to be Out yet,” he boomed.
“Come, dance a reel with me, Squire, so we might show there are no hard feelings,” said Daisy. “Miss Keynes told me what she was saying, and I confess it made me feel quite sick.”
“Damned nurserymaid must have dropped her on her head when she was a baby,” said the squire, allowing Daisy to lead him into a set that was forming. “It’s jealousy, my dear, jealousy over you being prettier and richer than she is.”
“And cleverer, which was the first fly in the ointment,” said Daisy, dryly. This was partly to one of the ladies who had listened to Rosalie, who was joined rather cringingly to her in the four hands across. “What, you didn’t believe a word Rosalie Daventry said did you? And you not looking wanting at all,” she added, as the girl gazed fearfully at her. “Be aware, I am not taking legal action as I respect her father. Spread any lies and your father will not be as lucky.”
It might be said that the squire insisted that his daughter speak to those girls she had spread her lies to, to retract her words. Whatever he had threatened her with, Rosalie duly retracted, admitting to wanting to make Daisy into a pariah because she disliked her.
Lily came over to Daisy, and publicly embraced her.
“Papa is sending Rosalie to a school which handles difficult girls,” she said. “And if he does not have a favourable report of her, she will not even be allowed home for Christmas.”
Daisy shuddered; such a school was the one Dr. and Mrs. Macfarlane had rescued those eight little girls from.
“Lily, listen to me seriously,” she said. “Pay a servant to visit the area of the school regularly, and try to see Rosalie. Try to find one who doesn’t hate her,” she added.
“That will be hard; most of our servants back home would be delighted to hear of her being spanked in public,” said Lily, frankly. “She’s not kind to them.”
“Well, maybe a stable hand she flirts with,” said Daisy. “Only I’ve heard a bit about these schools, and I know they can be harsh. And you don’t want her dying of starvation because she’s having food withheld as punishment, do you?”
Lily gasped.
“No, I don’t,” she said. “Papa won’t listen right now, but perhaps I can warn him when she’s gone so he will visit her himself.”
“An excellent idea,” said Daisy.
“Thank you for warning me, even though you hate her,” said Lily.
“She’s not enough to me for me to hate,” said Daisy, knowing that it was even true. “But she is your sister. I respect the thought that you do love her.”
“I suppose I do,” said Lily. “And I’d not want her to die of being punished.”
That there was a girl standing in the corner of the ballroom, who had to ask like a schoolgirl to be allowed to relieve herself, cast something of a blight on the evening for a while, for even having made a retraction, the squire insisted that Rosalie stay in the corner.
She was not permitted out for supper either.
“Should I ask the squire to let Rosalie eat?” Daisy asked Amelia.
“On no account,” said Amelia, crisply. “She will take no harm missing a meal; it is not as if she has been exercising by dancing as the rest of you have, and she needs to reflect that her filthy tongue could have ruined forever the reputation of a young and innocent girl, just because she is jealous enough of you to be unable to keep her mouth shut. I have no sympathy for her.”
Daisy blinked in surprise, since Amelia was as gentle as anyone might be, and nice enough to be thrilled by the pleasures of others.
“I am surprised, I would have thought you would have advocated mercy,” said Daisy.
“Mercy is for those who will learn from it,” said Amelia. “You let her off with an inadequate apology before, since you did not wish to pursue her father with the full rigour of the law. She has not learned, and he must now do something to curb her lying tongue, or you will have no choice but to sue him, or you will be tacitly admitting to her poisonous stories. If she is given any leeway at all, that will reflect on you, my dear, as well as on her father. He is correct in showing the world that she has erred beyond what is acceptable, and in punishing her, he clears your name. Showing her mercy is an admission of guilt on your part.”
“Miss Harper is right,” said Julian. “I have hinted that I will visit any insult to you upon the bodies of any young men likely to say anything untoward; and you note, you were asked to dance by all the highest ranking officers here.”
“Oh, is that what it was about,” said Daisy. “I see. Even Amelia’s captain danced with me.”
“He is not my captain,” Amelia blushed.
“He is, but never mind,” said Daisy. “I’ll not tease you about him. And of course it would also reflect on Amelia.” Fury crossed her face.
“Leave it to the squire,” said Julian, hastily, correctly interpreting that look as Daisy’s face as desire to do something unpleasant to Rosalie.
Several expressions warred on Daisy’s face; then she nodded.
“As you wish, Julian,” she said.
Julian slowly released the breath he had not been aware he was holding.
Daisy could be volatile at times, but at least she listened to him.
The evening came to a somewhat premature close; supper marked an end to the entertainment, as nobody could find the heart to dance again afterwards.

Daisy found herself up betimes again, for the early night, and frowned to be the recipient of a letter in Baron Hatherbere’s illegible scrawl. She broke the seal.

“Hatherbere Court
20th June 1812

My dear Margaret,
I fail to understand what you mean about getting married. You are not of age, so of course you cannot get married without the consent of your guardians, and I believe that a court of law could be show that your grandmother is in her second childhood and consequently not capable of undertaking her duties as your guardian, and so unable to grant permission to you to marry.
As head of the family I forbid this, and you would be wise not to defy me, because if you attempt to go against my wishes, you will never see the inside of Hatherbere Court.
Your great-uncle,

“Now that really is a wee sumpf,” said Daisy, who enjoyed Dr. Macfarlane’s idiom.
“He has no rights over you, even if you were descended from his heir, which you are not,” said Mrs. Ellis. “In my second childhood indeed! I don’t say I wasn’t a little wary of Mr. Nettleby at first, but he wrote, very properly, to Dr. and Mrs. Macfarlane for permission to marry you, and to Mr. Embury as well as asking me.”
“He asked you?”
“Yes, he did, and I think he is very good for you, he keeps your temper in check.”
“He makes me laugh. Hmm, I wonder what he would say about this?”
“I think in this case you should tell Hatherbere that he has no rights over you and that you have more guardians than me,” said Mrs. Ellis. “I don’t especially want him to decide I need confining in Bethlehem Hospital.”
“Can he do that?”
“I don’t want to risk finding out how far he might go over getting control of you and your fortune. You’d better get an ordinary licence and marry Mr. Nettleby out of hand. You don’t have to consummate it right away if you want to spend more time getting used to the idea.”
“I thought marriage could be annulled for non consummation?”
Mrs. Ellis smirked.
“A lot of people think that, but it can only be annulled if the groom is proven to be unable to consummate it.”
“How do they prove that?”
“They very rarely do. It is a myth.”
“How interesting. Now, let me get my writing desk out. I need to pen a note for Dan to run to The Old Ship Inn for me, as well as to reply to that impertinence.”
With Dan dispatched, Daisy turned her attention to writing to the baron.

“16 Steyne
23rd June 1812

Did you think that my grandmother is my sole guardian? I fear you are to be disappointed in that. My fiancé has approached them all, including my solicitor. Had you managed to offer me succour three years ago, doubtless you would have been able to secure a legal claim on me, but as I was not wealthy enough to interest you then, I am afraid you missed the trick, as I believe gamesters like the Hawes say.
I would like to point out that your family name truly implies the rapacity of your attempts to control me when said without reference to the spelling, and I do not wish to be allied in any way to a Hawes-son.
My marriage settlement is signed, and my current will leaves the entire of my wealth beyond a portion for my husband to an orphan asylum.
I have forwarded your letters to my solicitor, and have written to Bow Street to apprise Sir Nathanial Conant that I fear for my liberty and life at your hands. I have also hired a Bow Street Runner to gather any information about you that he can, since an ounce of blackmail is worth a pound of kidnapping.
I have no desire to see the inside Hatherbere Court, thank you very much, one Hawes house is much like another I am sure, and I do not wish to see any of such.
By the time you receive this, I will be married.
Try to accept this setback to your machinations with the dignity due to your title and station in life.

Your distant relative,
M. Ellis.

PS. Did you really think I cut my eye teeth yesterday?”

“Mr. Nettleby,” announced Saunders, as Daisy sanded the letter to dry the ink.
“Julian, did you get my note, or did Dan miss you?” asked Daisy.
“I got it, Daisy, stay calm, sit down, breathe,” said Julian. “I stopped off at St Peters’ church to purchase an ordinary licence. I thought you might like to have everything sorted out as soon as possible.”
“Oh, Julian, you are clever,” said Daisy. “Is there still time to get married? Can we get there before noon?”
“I should think so,” said Julian. “I’ll go and get the landau sorted out; you will want to put on a pretty gown. I dressed in morning clothes in case you wanted to hurry.”
“You look very pleasing, as always,” said Daisy, running upstairs, and giving thanks, as she always did, that she could run.
“Oh, miss, you look flushed,” said Moira.
“I am flushed,” said Daisy. “I am getting married as soon as you can get me dressed.”
“Wirra, and isn’t it sudden?” asked Moira, flying to the closet for Daisy’s golden ball gown.
“It’s sudden to prevent the interference of a relative who did not care tuppence for me before I had money,” said Daisy, grimly.
“Sure, and won’t Mr. Nettleby take care of ye just foine,” said Moira.
“Exactly, and that is why we aim to be at St Peter’s in time to wed during the proper hours for a wedding,” said Daisy. “And fortunate it is that we have been here the fifteen days stipulated to get wed on a common licence, for I have no desire to go haring off to Norchester to obtain a special licence from the Bishop of Norchester, who is the only bishop I know, and only then because he is Miss Freemantle’s uncle. Besides, getting married by special licence is almost sordid.”
“Sure, and any licence is better than taking a run fer the border so it is,” said Moira.
“And less uncomfortable,” said Daisy.
She took herself back downstairs to find Mrs. Ellis and Amelia being ensconced in the carriage by Mr. Nettleby, and was about to climb up when he said,
“Oh no you don’t, Mrs. Nettleby elect, you’ll damage your gown,” and then he had his hands at her waist for a delicious moment as he lifted her bodily into the landau. Daisy found herself quite short of breath.
They came upon Captain Smith on the way, and Julian called on Saunders to wait.
“Smith, I know you admire Miss Ellis, but she has cousins attempting to abduct her for her wealth, so we are getting married immediately. Would it be too much to prevail on you to be my best man, and stand as a witness?”
Captain Smith looked momentarily shocked.
“I would do anything for the dear lady,” he said. “And I did think the two of you were smelling of April and May.”
“I hope I did not flirt with you, Captain,” said Daisy. “I was just pleased to make new friends who did not treat me like a pretty idiot.”
He bowed, after joining them in the Landau.
“I am glad to be your friend, Miss Ellis,” he said. “And the news, as I said, is not unexpected, even if the timing is a little faster than I might have anticipated. I have controlled my disappointment.”
“It’s much appreciated,” said Julian. “Allow me to introduce Mrs. Ellis, Miss Ellis’s grandmother; Miss Harper you know.”
“Delighted,” said Smith.
The landau rolled up outside the church, and Julian leaped down to help the ladies, lifting Daisy out first.
He had turned back to assist Mrs. Ellis when Daisy was seized, thrown up into a carriage with six horses, and found herself being driven away while Julian had Mrs. Ellis half in and half out of the landau.

Chapter 21

Daisy was bruised and shocked. She had landed hard on the floor of the carriage, and her arm was hurting badly, and so was her head, which had hit the doorframe on the way in. She felt sick. She cautiously looked up to see if there was anyone in the carriage with her.
Her swimming gaze fell on someone she had almost forgotten in the light of the threat from the Hawes family.
It was Augustus Bennett.
“An ungainly entry to my coach, my dear, let me help you up,” said Bennett.
Daisy’s head did not want to get up, but her thoughts suppressed the desire to lie and groan on the floor, and she took the proffered hand.
Her breakfast was less pleasant leaving her than it had been going down, but the look of horror on Bennett’s face was worth all the unpleasantness.
“You filthy brat!” he shrieked. “Look what you’ve done!”
“Hit my head,” said Daisy, letting her eyes roll back in her head and subsiding into the corner of the seat. At least she was facing the horses; she would have been unable to control any further nausea if she had sat back to them.
“Dammit, woman, you can’t be ill on me, we are going to be married,” said Bennett.
“Can’t, lobcock,” said Daisy. “Betrothal. Legally binding. Signed.”
“No!” he gasped. “Well, I will marry you anyway, he won’t want you back when you’re used goods.”
Daisy held on to the idea that Julian would want her whether she was used goods or not, even if Bennett got her pregnant. She had to try to keep her wits about her. It was no good being as helpless as some stupid heroine in a gothic novel, just because she was in so much pain. At least her boots had prevented her from damaging her foot too badly, but she was beginning to suspect her arm was broken. She could not expect Julian to overtake a carriage which seemed to be going at a spanking pace, for he had her grandmother to care for. She must use her own wits. The sun was almost at its zenith, but not quite, and it flashed every now and then into the coach window, from a position slightly ahead of them, so they were going east, probably going through Lewes.
“Doctor,” she muttered. “Need a doctor.” If she seemed ill enough, he might just stop at Lewes to get her head looked at. Bennett however sneered at her as he dabbed at his breeches, having taken off his soiled coat.
“You won’t be seeing a doctor, I don’t want any awkward questions,” said Bennett. “We’re heading for Clackbury back in Norchestershire, and you’ll behave or I won’t hesitate to punish you.”
“Oh well, I have made my will, anyway,” said Daisy.
“It’s invalidated by marriage,” said Bennett.
“But then, I have to survive to marry,” said Daisy.
“You ain’t hurt that bad,” said Bennett. “Just a little fall into the carriage.”
Plainly she could not expect sympathy.
The coach slowed slightly, and Daisy heard the cry,
If the carriage stopped to pay the toll, she might get out and scream abduction at the gatekeeper.
She was to be disappointed.
Evidently the gatekeeper was used to people passing at a spanking pace tossing their toll, for the carriage did not stop, and began to speed up again.
Daisy sighed. A chance missed; she would just have to hope to survive a leap before the coach was fully up to speed again. She measured the distance to the door she had been thrown into, on the near side. It had shut but did not appear to have any locking mechanism.
She gathered herself, threw herself at the door in one bound, and jumped.
Fortunately there was a ditch in which she landed, and if the dry summer weather had robbed it of much of its water, the vegetation in it was thick and lush.
There was more pain.
In the carriage, Augustus Bennett was banging on the front of the coach; but for speed and privacy he had elected to hire a postillion to ride on the frontmost horse, rather than a coachman, and the horseman either could not hear him hammering on the coach, or put it down to one of those things he was hired not to see.
Daisy had no idea that there was a postillion not a coachman, or that she had been bought time by that, and extricated herself from the ditch as quickly as she might.
She could hardly believe her luck in seeing the coach continuing on. A hayseed with a flock of sheep gaped at her. He saw a few fine ladies in carriages, but never in an evening gown, and certainly never in an evening gown wet through and muddy.
“Oh, please help me!” said Daisy. “I have been abducted on my wedding day and I jumped out of the carriage, but he will turn around and come after me, and my affianced husband has my elderly grandmother to take somewhere safe before he may pursue me.”
“Ar,” said the bucolic. “Here,” he passed her a cloak smelling strongly of sheep. “Put that on, miss, and walk along o’ me. I be agwaine back to gate dracly minute.”
“Bless you,” said Daisy, feeling in her reticule, which she had clung to, and passing him a shilling. He grinned broadly with surprisingly good teeth. Daisy was glad of the cloak, despite the heat of the day, for she felt rather shivery. She followed along with the sheep, barely aware of where she was or what she did, her mind reeling and scarcely keeping her upright, the pain of her arm and the knock to her head conspiring to leave her barely conscious. She passed out just before the shepherd, or drover, she was not sure which he might be, reached the Ashcombe turnpike.
This cogent argument saw the gatekeeper carrying the unconscious Daisy up the track to the farm near the roundhouses of the gatehouse.
The gatekeeper was unaware that the young man galloping as though all the demons in hell were after him, was the girl’s affianced husband. Julian passed him just before Sam and his flock had brought his most unlikely visitor, and Daisy had been too fuddled with pain to even notice Julian or his horse. Hearing hooves, she merely cringed deeper into the concealing hooded cloak, in case it was Bennett returning.

Julian froze, horrified, his arm around Mrs. Ellis, helping her down.
“Let go of me you young idiot, and go get your horse; that damned carriage went the way to the Lewes road,” said Mrs. Ellis crisply.
“I have her, Mr. Nettleby,” said Amelia.
Smith vaulted over the side of the landau and landed lightly in the road.
“I’ll have my boys and the militia out,” he said. “Tally ho!”
Julian had no objection to setting the artillery on Daisy’s abductor. He ran without any thought for decorum or dignity to the stables of the Steyne house where he had left his horse, and with the startled aid of the boy, Dan, it was soon saddled and bridled. Julian tossed a guinea to Dan for his fast work, and thundered off down the road to Lewes.
The first turnpike was at Ashcombe, and he slowed, but there was a herd of sheep milling about in the pikeway. It was no good asking this gatekeeper if he had seen a carriage pulled by six horse, the poor man would be too busy assessing how many sheep there were, at a farthing apiece, and doubtless the canny drover and his cloaked assistant making them mill about to make counting the harder so the keeper would accept the number he was given. Julian fished in his pocket for a groat. The charge for a mounted horse was thruppence, but it was worth the extra penny not to stop to look for change. The gatekeeper caught the coin with a dexterity born of long practice, and made a scratch on his notebook. Julian wondered idly how much extra he made from people in a hurry who, like him, overpaid; so long as the turnpike trust had its correct dues, presumably any extra belonged to the gatekeeper.
And with two pokey little roundhouses for his accommodation, one each side of the road, and each more like a village lockup than a proper cottage, Julian thought him entitled to make what he could. He galloped down the road, and at last caught sight of the dust thrown up by a carriage.
He could hear the thunder of hoofs behind him, and glanced over his shoulder. It was Smith and his flying fusilleers, in full cry as if after a fox. Julian slowed enough to let them catch up; it would help his case if he had his majesty’s troops with him when he enacted violence on whoever had Daisy.
Three of the gunners rode ahead to stop the horses, each of them well-used to controlling two horses at once, and the postillion gave a startled cry as the grim, dark-uniformed pursuer took the bridle of the horse beside him, as his counterparts did with the two pairs behind, and brought the carriage to a halt.
Julian was off his horse in an instant, jerking open the door.
Daisy was not inside.
He felt sick.
Had he followed the wrong carriage? He peered at the terrified face of Augustus Bennett.
He had not followed the wrong carriage. Something was horribly wrong, but he had not followed the wrong carriage.
With a spring, Julian was in the carriage without even touching the steps, shot out an arm, and Augustus Bennett left his seat, and the carriage, rather suddenly.
The artillerymen politely applauded this feat of prestidigitation on the part of Mr. Nettleby. Word of his song had filtered down, and the fact that the song writer was plainly a man of action as well as clever with his pen did him no harm in the eyes of the soldiery. Nor did the fact that Julian had won the heart of the lady who had helped out on the day of the explosion.
Julian leaped down.
“Where is she?” he demanded.
“Ow, you have killed me!” howled Bennett.
“I say, old man, she’s not here, you can’t beat on innocent passers by, especially under my eye,” Smith murmured.
Julian put a foot on Bennett’s chest, and applied some of his weight.
“Captain, this is Augustus Bennett, a distant cousin of Miss Ellis. He has tried to abduct her twice by fraudulently claiming to be her guardian. When I see my betrothed wife thrown into a carriage with six horses identical to this one, and find that the carriage I have pursued holds someone with a habit of attempting abduction, my only thought is ‘what has he done with her?’”
“Ah,” said Smith. “Who is your accomplice, Bennett, and where is his carriage going?” he drew his sabre from its scabbard and touched the point to Bennett’s throat.
Bennett whinnied in terror.
“I don’t have an accomplice! It’s not my fault! The crazy wench jumped out of the carriage before I knew what she was doing, she’s probably dead, and you deprived of her loot too, if she really did leave it to an orphan asylum, so you’re no better off than I am, you could just let me go!”
Julian removed his foot, and grabbed Bennett by the lapels, bodily lifting him so his feet dangled.
“If you have caused the death of the best woman in the world, so help me, I’ll see you swing for murder, and if I can’t make a case in law, there are plenty of trees around here,” he growled. “Where did she jump out? Why did you keep going? Blast the creature, he’s passed out.”
“Drop him down and Regand here will put a ball into the ground beside him, that ought to revive him,” said Smith.
The grinning gunner loaded his musket with powder and wad, but at a sign from Smith left the bullet out. It might ricochet, after all.
The report by his ear had Bennett sitting up in terror.
“It was just after we passed the pike that she jumped! I had given the postillion the money for all the gates so he wouldn’t have to stop, as I knew she’s self-willed and stubborn and likely to make a scene. And it isn’t my fault that the stupid postillion didn’t stop, and didn’t hear me hammer on the side of the carriage!”
The postillion had dismounted, and spat in Bennett’s direction.
“You paid me extra to be deaf, you lummox,” he declared.
“Well you can be locked up, for that’s an admission to aiding and abetting in the abduction of an heiress who is also a minor,” said Julian. “I saw no body on the road, we must search!”
“Lads, Miss Ellis was wearing the same gown she wore to the regimental ball; most of you were acting as waiters and footmen and saw her,” said Smith.
“It ain’t indistinctive,” said Regand, who was a sergeant. “Right, Brewis, Denver, Felton, you take the horses along to the barracks outside Lewes, Parson and Scrope, inside the carriage with these two, we might want to question Bennett again, so see he don’t get shot trying to escape yet.”
The cavalcade turned back the way it had come, fanning out to both sides of the road and going at a painfully slow walk. At a sign from Smith, the two lieutenants set their horses at the side of the road, and made the jump of ditch and hedge look easy. Julian admired their skill, and knew he could not emulate it. They shadowed the other searchers on the far side of the hedges.
Julian chafed at the methodical search, but it could not be done in any other fashion; and if his beloved Daisyflower was already dead, the speed would make no difference.
“If she’s dead, I am going to carve out his liver with a paper knife,” he growled.
“A paper knife?” Smith was startled.
“It’s blunt. It will hurt more,” said Julian.

Daisy 19-21

Sarah WaldockMay 19, 2018 11:57AM

Re: Daisy 19-21

LilyMay 20, 2018 01:47PM

Re: Daisy 19-21 I apologise....

Sarah WaldockMay 20, 2018 02:07PM

Re: Daisy 19-21 I apologise....

LilyMay 20, 2018 02:45PM

Re: Daisy 19-21

Agnes BeatrixMay 19, 2018 07:21PM

Re: Daisy 19-21

AlidaMay 19, 2018 11:54PM

Re: Daisy 19-21

Sarah WaldockMay 20, 2018 11:17AM


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