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Authors: Jessica Blair

Stay with Me

BOOK: Stay with Me
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Stay With Me
 
 
JESSICA BLAIR
 
 
Hachette Digital
Table of Contents
 
 
 
Also by Jessica Blair
 
The Red Shawl
A Distant Harbour
Storm Bay
The Restless Spirit
The Other Side of the River
The Seaweed Gatherers
Portrait of Charlotte
The Locket
The Long Way Home
The Restless Heart
Time and Tide
Echoes of the Past
Secrets of the Sea
Yesterday's Dreams
Reach for Tomorrow
Dangerous Shores
Wings of Sorrow
 
 
 
For more information about Jessica Blair visit
www.jessicablair.co.uk
 
 
 
 
Stay With Me
 
 
JESSICA BLAIR
 
 
Hachette Digital
 
PIATKUS
 
 
First published in Great Britain in 2009 by Piatkus Books
 
 
Published by Hachette Digital 2010
 
Copyright © 2009 by Jessica Blair
 
 
The moral right of the author has been asserted
 
 
All characters and events in this publication, other than
those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious
and any resemblance to real persons,
living or dead, is purely coincidental
 
 
All rights reserved
 
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser
 
 
A CIP catalogue record for this book
is available from the British Library
 
eISBN : 978 0 7481 1747 5
 
 
Typeset in Times by Action Publishing Technology Ltd, Gloucester Printed and bound in Great Britain by MPG Books, Bodmin, Cornwall
 
This ebook produced by JOUVE, FRANCE
 
 
Papers used by Piatkus Books are natural, renewable and recyclable products made from wood grown in sustainable forests and certified in accordance with the rules of the Forest Stewardship Council
 
Hachette Digital
An imprint of
Little Brown Book Group
100 Victoria Embankment
London EC4Y 0DU
 
 
An Hachette Livre UK Company
www.hachettelivre.co.uk
 
For Jill
whose bright light guided me through dark waters
Acknowledgements
I thank my four children for their continued support and encouragement in my writing life. Without them the enjoyment would not be as complete. They are always interested in the development of my latest novel. In this one Judith played an active part, vetting the work as it progressed; Geraldine read the work in its entirety and made suggestions for clarity; Anne and Duncan were ever ready to enquire the progress I was making and thereby spurred me to get on.
I must thank Kate Strachan, Assistant Archivist National Meteorological Archive and Hazel Clement of the Met Office for information about the weather conditions in 1879.
I also must thank all the staff at my publisher Piatkus for their help and support, particularly throughout the period of becoming an imprint of Little, Brown.
All my Jessica Blair books have been expertly and sympathetically edited by Lynn Curtis, this one no less so. Thank you, Lynn.
Chapter One
From her home, high on Whitby's West Cliff, twenty-three-year-old Pauline Carnforth gazed across the River Esk to the older part of the town where red roofs stepped their way up the cliff towards the ancient church and ruined abbey. Her hazel eyes, wide and alert, did not linger on that aspect for more than a moment but sparkled anew when her gaze passed to the view upstream which, for her, was the best in her home town on the Yorkshire coast. A swing bridge spanned the river; beyond, masts and rigging of all manner of vessels resting at the quays trellised the clear sky. It was Christmas Eve 1879. The bustle on the quays was winding down but in two days the ships and quays would be swarming with people again: merchants having a word with their captains, clerks hurrying with manifests, stevedores being harangued to forget their hangovers and prepare their ships to sail to distant shores. Sailors would curse their superiors under their breath and labourers would groan under the heavy crates and bales they heaved on board.
Pauline brushed a stray strand of dark brown hair back into place, sighing, and wishing, not for the first time, that she had been born a boy, able to sail to the farther reaches of the ocean, to see the magical worlds that lay beyond the horizon and do all the things a girl was not allowed to by this strait-laced society. Not that she was dissatisfied with her lot; she counted herself lucky to have a broad-minded, loving mother, an understanding father, and to want for nothing, knowing she enjoyed her privileged position because of his hard work and astute mind.
John Carnforth had inherited his father's yawl at the age of twenty, when the older man had been lost at sea while herring fishing. John was already steeped in the same trade, but saw it as a means primarily of furthering his ambitions to become a ship-owner whose vessels would trade with every part of the world. In this ambition he had been equalled by his good friend Albert Nash who had matched him with a similar enterprise.
They had become rivals, but the rivalry was friendly with each man prepared to help the other. The two powerful mercantile firms prospered alongside each other in Whitby and the respective families became close.
Even though it had become customary for them to spend Christmas Eve together, alternating as hosts, they followed the recognised custom of sending out invitations three weeks before. This year Jennie Carnforth had sent the invitations and had received replies within twenty-four hours as etiquette demanded.
 
Pauline recognised the sound of her mother's footsteps; she did not turn round but curled her long fingers around her mother's when she came and stood beside her.
‘You love that view, don't you, Lena?' commented Jennie in the gentle Scottish lilt she had never lost in the twenty-four years she had lived in Yorkshire.
‘I do, Mama. It's one I will never forget. You'll be looking forward to leaving it and going to Dundee, I expect?'
‘Of course. Being with my family at Hogmanay is always special.'
‘You still miss them then?'
‘Yes, but I bless the day your father, following the fleet south, decided to put into Dundee to celebrate his birthday. It was love at first sight for us both, and I was lucky to find a man willing to take on a widow with a son. James was but two at the time.'
‘And you were prepared to leave your home and come to Whitby?'
‘I would have followed John anywhere, and with my family's blessing, too. I've never regretted it. Your father understands that I miss them sometimes, though, and has insisted every year that we spend New Year in Dundee.' A faraway lilt had come to Jennie's voice and her eyes seemed to be focused on something beyond the view from the window. A moment passed; she started. ‘I think we had better stop chatting,' she announced light-heartedly, ‘and get ourselves ready. It won't be long before the Nashes are here.' They both turned away from the window and headed for the door. ‘What are you going to wear, Lena?' she asked her daughter.
‘I thought my new green dress, if that doesn't clash with yours?'
‘It won't. I'll wear my light blue.'
They parted on the landing, each going to her own room. Lena turned the highly polished brass knob and pushed open the heavy oak door to hers.
‘Ah, miss, there you are!' The maid looked up from a pile of clothes she was folding. ‘I'm sorting your underclothes for your visit to Scotland. Will you see if . . .?'
Lena dismissed the rest of the query with a wave of her hand. ‘You know what I'll want, Sarah.'
‘Yes, miss.' The girl was pleased to be trusted with the choice. ‘Which dresses, miss?'
Lena crossed the room to a large hanging cupboard. She flung open the double doors and, without hesitation, said, ‘That, that and that.'
‘They're all day dresses, miss. You'll need an evening dress.'
‘The red one then. I'll wear the green this evening. Now help me get ready for our guests.'
‘Yes, miss.' Sarah's eyes brightened. She had loved the bustle and excitement of party days ever since she had come here, six years ago as a fifteen-year-old, to work for the Carnforth family. Soon afterwards she became Miss Pauline's personal maid as well as helping with more general duties in the house.
An hour later, her toilette completed, powder and scent applied, the green dress fitted and smoothed into place, Lena viewed herself in the cheval glass positioned to take full advantage of the light from the room's tall sash window. She gave a little nod of satisfaction, pleased with the choice she'd made when she had consulted her dressmaker two months ago. The dress fitted closely to the waist, emphasising her bust and hips. The high-necked bodice of Valenciennes lace gave way to green silk that flared out in a series of ruffles below the small bustle. Green bows circled the elbows from which the sleeves came tight to the wrist. A small circular
calotte
decorated with tiny ribbons of silk and lace nestled on her head, complementing her dark brown hair that had been swept up from the nape of the neck.
‘Oh, you do look lovely, miss!' Sarah's eyes were wide with admiration but she blushed crimson then, realising she was out of place in making such a personal observation to her mistress.
Lena smiled generously and put her maid at ease, ‘Thank you, Sarah.' She gave one more glance at herself in the cheval glass and left the room.
As she started for the top of the stairs she heard a door open behind her, and turned to see James coming out of his room. He raised his eyebrows in admiration.
‘You look extremely well, Lena. A new dress? It suits you.'
She smiled as she acknowledged the compliment. It pleased her that her brother always commented on her appearance.
‘Wait until you see the red one I bought at the same time!'
‘Saving that for Dundee?'
She nodded. ‘Yes.'
He held out his arm so that he could escort her down the stairs.
‘It will have to be something to better that one,' he said. ‘It gives you a real aura of elegance. I'm sure Alistair will approve.'
She caught the teasing twinkle in James's eyes and countered with, ‘And no doubt you are out to impress Olivia.' Her brother cut a fine figure, at just over six foot tall, his dark hair, almost black, and rugged features that combined with a gentle manner to make him a very presentable young man. His dark eyes were usually alert with interest and whoever came under their gaze felt drawn to him. Tonight the black cutaway coat, grey single-breasted waistcoat and matching grey trousers he wore were tailored to perfection, to reveal his slim athletic figure.
He gave a little chuckle. ‘Father would be pleased if we both married a Nash.'
Lena's answering laughter confirmed this. It was indeed likely that such matches would please John Carnforth.
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