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Ambridge Tangle
by Poll Doll

With Sincerest Apologies to Georgette Heyer

regency lady

'My dear, would you be so kind as to pass me my reticule' said Lady Elizabeth Pargetter to her companion, as she reclined upon her chaise longue of straw coloured satin. 'I feel a little weak and if I do not have my smelling salts I fear I may go into a swoon.'

Mrs Siobhan Hathaway was sitting several feet away on the window seat, her burnished red head bowed over her embroidery, when the insistent tones of Lady Pargetter penetrated her reverie. 'Mrs Hathaway my dear, did you not hear me? I must have my reticule.'

Slowly, Siobhan got to her feet. She was an attractive girl, though perhaps not what a gentleman would describe as 'a diamond of the first water'. She was taller than average with an elegant nose and fine grey eyes that always seemed to laugh a little, even when her mouth, which was too large to be called fashionable, was in repose. At nine and twenty she was past her first blush but her figure was still pleasing. As she moved across the room, her muslin clung to her admirable shape and a casual observer would have noted that she was undoubtedly in what the dowagers still referred to as 'a delicate condition'.

Having attended to Lady Pargetter's needs, Mrs Hathaway took up her seat once more and resumed her embroidery. Although she struggled to remain cheerful, a certain pall hung over her spirits as she contemplated life at Lower Loxley Hall. Her husband, Dr Hathaway had been engaged as a personal physician to a reputable poet and was travelling with his employer in the Italian Alps. Her only companion was Lady Pargetter whose persistent ill-health and preoccupation with her offspring meant that she was not always the most engaging company. Of course her own baby would soon be there, which was something to look forward to, but Siobhan longed for London, for dancing at Almacks and card parties, for the Vauxhall Masquerades. And she longed for the Marquess of Felpersham Lord Brian Aldridge.

regency buckAs Siobhan gazed out across the rolling parkland surrounding Lower Loxley, an elegant but sporting phaeton appeared on the sweeping curve of the drive, drawn by a pair of perfectly matched high stepping greys. As the vehicle came into view through the morning mist, Siobhan could just make out the family crest that adorned it. The unmistakable Aldridge crest depicting a golden shield, with two heraldic lions holding aloft a be-chained slip-on loafer, and the motto 'Semper Infidelis'. Her brow furrowed but her heart leapt. What could he be doing here, that rude and disagreeable man, whose glance made her feel like a girl not out of the schoolroom and whose cold sarcasm chilled her soul? What possible business could he have at Lower Loxley?

'My dear Lady Pargetter' she said, 'I am going to my room and do not wish to be disturbed.'

Read an extract from Georgette Heyer's Bath Tangle

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