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by Katy O'Reilly
Description: Julianna Pritchard, the spoiled, willful only daughter of the Earl of Pritchard has been used to having her own way in every aspect of her life. Her mother died when she was but a small child, leaving her father, already along in years with no patience or desire to discipline her. Her cousin Maise lives with them, and finds herself easily led astray by her exuberant cousin. Now it is time for her to be married and most of the eligible young lords shy away from the prospect of living their life with such a spoiled girl. However, there is one young man, the Earl of Barrington, who is interested in wedding Julianna. He agrees to the marriage with a courting period, during which he will do his best to tame her. This leads to many adventures as Julianna slowly falls in love with him and her cousin with his friend.
eBook Publisher: Newsite Web Services Publishing, 2007 2007
eBookwise Release Date: September 2008
14 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [455 KB]
Reading time: 327-458 min.
"Maisie, put down that sewing now! I want you to take a ride with me." Julianna Pritchard was growing impatient with her cousin and best friend.
"You know very well that your father said he wanted you to stay in today. So we can't go riding." Maisie clucked in disapproval at her cousin. Julianna, not noted for her patience, grabbed the embroidery from Maisie and threw it on the floor.
"You know very well that I never do what he says. There is no good reason for me not to take a ride. He is being silly. I don't care to meet this Earl of Barrington, whoever he is--most likely some old fuddy duddy friend of his. Now come and change and let's be off."
Maisie found herself being propelled upstairs to change into her riding habit. Julianna was never going to change. Her mother had passed away when she was just a little girl and her only other sibling was a brother that was much older and off serving in the King's Navy. Her had father tried to raise her and make her obey, but his duties as Earl of Pritchard kept him far too busy. In addition, he was now elderly and hadn't the patience to cope with a young, spirited girl.
Maisie's upbringing was quite different. Her mother was Julianna's father's sister and as easy going as her brother. However, her father was very strict and Maisie and her brothers and sisters were taught obedience and the consequence of disobedience at an early age. Maisie was currently spending the summer with Julianna, while her parents traveled.
As soon as Maisie was changed, she went to Julianna's room to fetch her. Nancy, the head housekeeper and Julianna's governess, was there scolding her. "Miss Julianna, you know that your father wishes your presence this afternoon for tea with Lord Barrington. Now you will change back into proper clothes at once."
"No, I will not! Maisie and I are going riding and will take tea in town. Now you may tell father whatever you like, but I won't be here." Julianna flounced past her and, linking arms with Maisie, headed for the stables. Both girls could hear the frustrated scolds from Nancy all the way down the stairs.
At the stable, the lads quickly went about their business. They knew that Julianna was no one to disagree with. The ladies were mounted and out quickly. Julianna took the lead and galloped to the far hill. She was a far more accomplished a horsewoman than Maisie.
When Maisie finally caught up, Julianna was laughing.
"Oh, Maisie, you really have to lighten up. Your parents are traveling and you will never be in trouble here. Papa threatens and scolds, but is powerless to do a thing. My brother will never be home for years. Let's just enjoy ourselves and have fun. We can shop in town and have tea and return home when we please. By that time, the stuffy Lord Barrington will be snoring himself away."
At that very moment, there was a lone horseman observing the two ladies alone in the meadow. His thoughts were directed to the letter he had received from Lord Pritchard. Yes this must be his daughter and niece. One of which was the object of his visit. * * * *
Maisie was quiet as they rode along, her thoughts centered on her cousin. "Julianna, have you ever thought about the future?"
"Of course I have, who doesn't, silly? It will be just as happy and carefree as now. Eventually, I suppose Edward will come home some day and take over from Father, perhaps even marry and have a family, but it doesn't affect me. I will still do as I please."
"I don't know. We are both of marriageable age and I remember Papa arranging marriages for my older sisters at this age. Have you not thought perhaps your father has the same thing in mind for you?" Maisie was pleased to see that her cousin didn't have a ready answer.
Julianna was truly taken aback. The notion of being married hadn't entered her mind. She liked to flirt with the different men at the few balls she had attended and was even mildly attracted to some, but the thought of marriage hadn't occurred to her. "Surely, Father would say if that was what he had in mind. He would never make me wed a man I didn't love or wish to. He knows I wouldn't hear of it."
"But you don't have a choice in the matter. You have to wed whomever he makes a contract with. It is nice if you like them or even love them, but you don't get a choice. My sisters never did. They learned to love and that is enough."
"Stop this nonsense right now, or I will be cross with you the rest of the day!" Julianna didn't want to hear anymore about it. The thought was truly troubling.
Maisie shrugged and lapsed into silence as they rode along. There was no conversation between them for several minutes. Finally Julianna broke the silence. "I think it is time we head into town. I feel like we should have new dresses made for the Longworth's ball that is coming soon. That and some other things should cheer us up immensely." She kicked her horse into a gallop and left poor Maisie trying to catch up. When the village was in sight, she slowed and waited for Maisie.
"I think we shall start with the dressmaker." Not waiting for an answer, she rode over to the shop and dismounted. She was already through the door before Maisie caught up with her. The dressmaker was fawning over her and showing her all kinds of materials. All the shopkeeps knew Julianna and her spending habits. There was never a complaint from the old Earl when the bills were presented and they were paid promptly
"Oh, Maisie, look at this beautiful brocade, I can just see you in this at the ball." Julianna was holding up a rose colored brocade. It was indeed beautiful and would complement Maisie's brunette hair and fair features.
"Julianna, that is so beautiful, but do you not think it is a bit expensive? Won't your father complain about the cost for his niece?"
"Posh, he never will say a thing. Trust me, I do what I want. Now, how is this for me?" Julianna held up a sapphire blue silk. "Do you think this will do? I think it matches my eyes and will set off my blonde hair."
The dressmaker oohed and ahhed over both their choices. "Oh yes, both of you will look lovely in those colors. Shall we look at designs now?"
"Yes, but I wish to pick out a few more things for everyday wear, and Maisie needs some extra gowns also." Julianna started rummaging through the fabrics and soon had quite a pile. "I think we will each need the ball gown, and three new daily gowns."
"Julianna! Are you mad? Your father will be furious with the cost." Maisie was shocked beyond words
"No, he won't pay a bit of attention. Enjoy this while you can, Maisie. Remember, I can do anything and it is fine. Now, dressmaker, I like these two patterns for our ball gowns and you know what to do for everyday dresses. I would like them as soon as possible. Is a fortnight too soon?"
"Oh, no, My Lady, they will be done by then, especially for you. Of course, there is a small charge for such a large order on a rush." The dressmaker looked carefully at Julianna for a reaction.
"Oh, I care not. Just get them done and delivered."
Leaving the dress shop, Julianna next pulled Maisie into the local jewel smith. "I think we need a few new trinkets to go with our ball gowns and dresses, don't you?"
"Julianna! You are pushing this way too far. I will be skinned alive when my Papa finds out about these charges. He would never permit this." Maisie was trembling from fear.
Seeing her discomfort, Julianna put her arms around her and hugged her close. "Maisie, my dear, never fear, you will never get in trouble. All these purchases are in my name. Father just shakes his head and pays them. Don't worry about this at all."
After picking out several expensive baubles, Julianna next headed for the shoemaker. Both had ordered several new pairs of shoes before Maisie knew it.
"Well, Maisie, that has been productive and I think it is now time for some tea. Shall we indulge ourselves in Madame Karen's Tea Shoppe? It is new but I hear it is the best."
"Whatever you say, Julianna." Maisie was in a daze from the shopping.
The ladies headed to Madame Karen's, one with a light heart, and one quite worried. What they didn't know was what was happening back home. The meeting with Lord Barrington and the Earl of Pritchard proved very interesting and would affect both ladies soon.