Monday, 4 March 2013

Monday, March 04, 2013 -

The Story of Lady Alice

by Geraldine Hillis
Published: Mar 03, 2013
Words: 14,846
Category: romance
Orientation: M/F
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Chapter 1 - Surprising News

"Excuse me, Milady, but the master wishes to see you in his study."

The Lady Alice frowned. It was seldom her father summoned her to the study, except for disciplinary purposes, and though she searched her mind, she could think of nothing she had done recently which would warrant punishment. "Did he say what he wanted of me, Jarvis?" she asked the impassive butler.

"No, madam, merely that he wished to see you," he replied evenly.

She scowled, making her pretty features quite unattractive. "Oh, well," she sighed. "I suppose I'd better see what he wants." And she made her way ungraciously to the study. As she neared the door, however, her bravado began to wear thin. Interviews with Papa could be painful affairs, and it was with a quickly beating heart that she tapped gently and entered at her father's command.

With a feeling of some relief she saw that Sir David did not look angry. She curtseyed respectfully. "You sent for me, Papa?"

"Yes, my dear." He rose and came towards her, taking both her hands in his. "I have good news for you, Alice. Lord Richard Carmichael has recently returned from his travels in Europe, and has expressed his wish to meet with you at the earliest opportunity."

She gazed at him in astonishment. "Lord Richard? You mean ...?"

"Yes, Alice. The man to whom you have been promised since you were a little girl. Now, isn't that exciting?"

Though he clearly expected her to greet the news with rapture, she could not bring herself to do so. "But, Papa ... surely after all these years ... he cannot still expect to honour that agreement! It was so long ago, and really, I have no wish to marry at this time."

Sir David frowned. "Alice, you are nineteen years old. It is high time you were wed, and Richard is a fine man. Of course, if he should prove distasteful to you, you mother and I would not force you to accept any proposal he may make, and ..."

"Distasteful! Of course I shall find him distasteful! He is old!"

"Nonsense, Alice. He is thirty-six ... hardly in his dotage yet." He swept aside her objections. "Lord Richard will dine with us tonight. You will go now to your room and begin to prepare. I shall send your maid to assist you. And Alice," he added warningly, "you will be on you best behaviour. I will not tolerate the slightest impertinence or rudeness from you this evening. Do you understand?"

Defeated for the moment, she muttered a quick, "Yes, sir," and with the slightest of curtseys, hastened from the room. Sir David leaned back in his chair and sighed. She had never been a docile girl. She was given to temper, obstinacy and fits of sullenness, and he wondered if perhaps it would be Richard who might decide that the long promised marriage would not, after all, take place.