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Authors: Judith B. Glad

Tags: #19th Century, #England, #marriage, #Regency, #Regency Romance, #Romance

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BOOK: A Pitiful Remnant
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"Yes my-- Yes, Clarence?"

"What kind of name is Lisanor?"

"She was a Greek, the mother of Oedipus. My family's
tradition is to choose names from Greek literature and
mythology."

"Have you no nickname? Something less, well, formal?"

"No. My grandfather was adamant that we never shorten
our names." She was about to say more, but a tap came at the
door.

Guillemot called, "Enter."

"Major, there's a fellow asking for ye. Name's Throckmorton.
Says ye sent for him."

"Excellent. My-- Lisanor, we will resume this conversation
later. Right now I must meet our new bailiff. At least I hope he will
be." He pushed himself upright and looked around. "Where the devil
is that cane?"

Lisanor went to fetch it from where he had dropped it,
halfway across the room. "Nettles, do not allow him to talk you into
letting him walk unassisted again. Not until we find him another
cane. And perhaps not even then. I want to be present when he
does."

"Aye, milady. I'll keep him in line. Now then, sor, up ye
goes."

She left them alone, but determined to be present during the
interview with the applicant for the bailiff position. After all, she was
Guillemot's business partner, was she not?

* * * *

"Mr. Throckmorton seems adequate to the task, although he
may have some difficulties traversing muddy fields," Lisanor said, as
soon as Guillemot's newly hired bailiff and Nettles had left the
library. "How did you know him?"

Clarence heard considerable skepticism in her tone, and was
grateful that she was reserving judgment. "He was in my regiment,
until he lost his leg. He grew up on a farm in Dorset, but there were
four older brothers."

"A common problem, I understand. A holding can only be
divided so many ways. Does he understand cattle?"

"If not, he will learn. Lisanor--"

She went on as if he'd not spoken. "Perhaps Elmer could
instruct him, if need be. What about--"

"Lisanor, will you listen to me?"

"Of course. What is it you wish? Are you comfortable? Is
your leg--"

"I am fine." Something seemed caught in his throat. He
swallowed, took a deep breath.

"Actually, I am not entirely fine. This afternoon--"

"I knew it! You did yourself an injury when you fell. And to
attempt more walking... Honestly, my lord, I sometime question your
good sense."

"My lack of total well-being has nothing to do with my leg.
This afternoon, when I landed atop you--"

"The fall merely knocked the breath from me for a moment.
No harm was done."

"Lisanor--"

"Yes, my lord?"

"Be silent."

Her mouth dropped open, but no sound emerged.

Clarence knew he would treasure this moment for a long
time. His bride was seldom at a loss for words. "On our wedding day,
we discussed... We have been sharing a..." When he swiped a hand
across his brow, it came away damp. "Hang it all, Lisanor, what I am
trying to say is--"

"I understand. This afternoon I...ah...became aware that you
were--"

He glanced at her hands, clasped in her lap. Her fingers were
white with strain.

Before he could speak, she went on. "We have come to know
each other. I, at least, have come to respect you, to like you very well.
I shall do my duty."

He wanted to say that there was more he needed from her
than duty. He needed her affection, her laughter, her strength of will
and of spirit. But his mouth was dry and his body heavy with
anticipation. Surreptitiously he glanced at the clock. Even though
they kept country hours, dinner was nearly ninety minutes away.
I wonder if there is some way--

He realized that she had gone to the line of bell pulls against
the far wall. "I shall order a supper in our chambers. The servants
will be much relieved."

"Wha--"

"Pammy told me the other day that there was some distress
in the kitchen that our marriage was unconsummated. Apparently
the staff felt that their positions were uncertain until the question of
our--and their--future was decided." She had carefully avoided
looking at him as she spoke. Her cheeks, he saw now, were bright
pink.

"There was never any question. We are married."

"Ah, yes, but an unconsummated marriage can be easily
annulled."

He gaped. "Would you--"

"I did consider it, in the heat of anger. For perhaps half a
minute. But no. I would never renege on my vows. Nor, I believe,
would you ever stoop so low. But they did not know that. Given the
uncertain situation here at Guillemot--and at Ackerslea, if it comes to
that--once cannot blame the staff for being concerned."

The door opened then. She gave her orders for a celebratory
repast to be served in the master suite in one hour. "His lordship has
engaged a bailiff who seems quite competent," she said to Carleton.
"Champagne is in order, I believe."

Carleton beamed. Over his shoulder, Clarence saw Nettles
grinning like a jester.

Determined to prove that he was fit to fulfill his duties, he
insisted on ascending the last few steps of the long, curving staircase
unaided, except for a strong grip on the rail. Lisanor--
my
practical, commonsense wife
--awaited him at the top, smiling
widely.

* * * *

Sometime that night...

"Two months ago I thought of myself as a pitiful remnant of
the man I once was. When I was able to think at all."

Lisanor lifted her head from his shoulder, gazed down at
him. All but one of the candles had guttered, and that one would not
last much longer. "A pitiful remnant? What an apt phrase. I had
similar feelings myself, when the vultures gathered for the reading of
my grandfather's will."

"Do you feel that way now?"

"Oh, no. Not at all." She danced her fingers lightly across his
chest, pausing only to tug at a tuft of hair. "We are neither pitiful nor
remnants. We are hopeful seeds, rather, carrying future possibilities
within us. New prosperity for our lands, better lives for our
dependents..."

"And our descendants."

"Indeed. Don't forget that our first daughter will be Mistress
of Ackerslea Farm."

He pulled her close and buried his fingers in her hair. "As
our first son will be Marquess of Guillemot."

She pushed herself erect, withdrawing from his embrace.
"What if we have more than one son or daughter? What will
happen--"

"Lisanor, I have other estates. Only two of them are entailed.
Our children will be well provided for. Besides, if they inherit their
mother's acumen, they will likely do their own providing. None of
them will be pitiful."

Snuggling back under his arm, she relaxed. "Clare?"

"Hmmm?"

"I believe I am coming to love you."

"Indeed? Well, then, I must confess I had harbored similar
thoughts."

"That's good." Her body went limp as sleep took her.

He was not far behind.

About the Author

On her way to a career as a writer, Judith B. Glad made a lot
of detours--into motherhood, short-order cooking, accounting,
management, graduate school, botanical consulting. Eventually she
decided she had to write those books that had been growing in her
head for years--romances all. She believes every story should have a
happy ending, even if it requires two or three hankies to get
there.

After growing up in Idaho--the locale of several of her
books--Judith now lives in Portland, Oregon, where flowers bloom in
her yard every month of the year and snow usually stays on the
mountains where it belongs. It's a great place to write, because the
rainy season lasts for eight months--a perfect excuse to stay indoors
and tell stories. Judith has four children, all grown, three
granddaughters and a grandson.

Visit Judith's webpage at www.judithbglad.com to learn
more about her other books. While you're there, take some side trips
to view early 20th century picture postcards, read about 5,000 ways
to earn a living, and see what a
Mentzelia
really is.

* * * *

Uncial Press brings you extraordinary fiction,
non-fiction and poetry. Put a world of reading in your pocket.

www.uncialpress.com

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BOOK: A Pitiful Remnant
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