Excerpt: Three Schemes and a Scandal
In which two young ladies gossip about utterly “inappropriate” matters, particularly what Charlotte did while alone, quite alone, with James…
“You were alone, quite alone, with a gentleman for three quarters of one hour, Charlotte. I am assured that is plenty of time to be ruined,” Harriet said.
“How do you know that?” Charlotte asked.
“I overheard it in the ladies’ retiring room at a ball once. I had pretended to faint because I was trapped in conversation with Drawling Rawlings,” Harriet explained and Charlotte nodded in absolute agreement. Lady “Drawling Rawlings” had been a notorious conversation monopolizer and one made every effort to avoid her. “I was taken to the ladies’ retiring room, and in no rush to resume my wall-flowering in the ballroom, so I feigned an epic swoon. Lady Layton and her friends thought I wasn’t listening to their shocking conversation. But I was, Charlotte, I was.”
Charlotte sat down next to Harriet and poured herself a fresh cup of tea.
“You must tell me everything, Harriet.”
And she did.
One hour later, Charlotte was much more interested in marriage and marital relations, in particular. Apparently one could be ruined in less time than it took to drink a cup of tea and this was lamentable. Allegedly, ruination could also last all night and happen again in the morning.
There was much to consider but later, in private.
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