Page 2 of The Husband Season

‘I should like a Season in London.’

‘A Season,’ he repeated. ‘I expected to be asked for a new gown or some such frippery, but a Season! Where did you get that idea?’

‘All young ladies of any standing have come-out Seasons. It is how they find husbands. You would not wish me to be an old maid, would you?’

‘I doubt there is any fear of that.’

‘It is what Teddy said. He said there were no eligibles left hereabouts, so I must look farther afield. He will take me, if you cannot.’

‘I would not lay such a burden on his shoulders, Sophie.’

‘Then, will you and Mama take me?’

‘Sophie, there is no question of you having a Season this year or any other,’ he said. ‘We are not so well up in society as to aspire to such heights. It would cost a prodigious amount of money, which I am afraid cannot be spared. Neither of your sisters had a Season...’

‘But they did go and stay with Aunt Emmeline in Mount Street.’

‘Sophie, they stayed with her for two weeks, and the purpose of the visit was not a come-out as you know very well. They both found their husbands without recourse to balls and assemblies and tea parties.’

‘Yes, but where am I to find another Mark or Drew if I don’t go where I might meet them?’

‘Mark and Andrew are estimable young men, but why would you want a husband like them?’

The reason was her secret, so she simply said, ‘They are my ideal.’

He laughed. ‘Sophie, you will find the right man for you, all in good time. There is no hurry. You are but nineteen years old. Indeed, too much haste could very well end in disaster.’

‘So you will not let me go?’

‘I am afraid not. Now leave me to my newspaper.’

Drooping with disappointment, she left him to find her mother. Lady Cavenhurst was in the garden cutting daffodils from the hundreds that grew there. Sophie poured her woes into her mother’s ears. ‘You will persuade him, won’t you, dearest Mama? You know how important the right connections are to a young lady. There is no hope that I will find a suitable husband in a backwater like Hadlea.’

Her ladyship continued to cut the flowers and lay them in a trug on her arm. ‘Why this sudden urge to be married, Sophie?’

‘It is not sudden. I have been thinking about it ever since Jane and Issie were wed and I felt I should make a push to find a husband like Mark or Drew.’

‘You have set your sights very high, child.’

‘Why not? Is that a fault?’

‘No, dear, of course not.’

‘So will you speak to Papa? Aunt Emmeline would have me, would she not?’

‘Your aunt Emmeline is old, Sophie. I doubt she goes out and about very much nowadays.’

‘Teddy said he will escort me, so you will speak to Papa?’

Her mother sighed. ‘I will talk to him, but if he has made up his mind there will be no shifting him and I will not press him.’

‘Thank you, Mama.’

Having obtained that concession, which would have to do for the time being, Sophie went back indoors. If the answer was still no, she would have to marshal further arguments. She hurried to her room, put on a bonnet and shawl and set off to call on her sister at Broadacres.

Broadacres was a magnificent estate about three miles’ distant from Greystone Manor. It was not as old as the manor, but much grander. A long drive led to a carriage sweep and a truly magnificent facade with dozens of long windows. Cantilevered steps led to a massive oak door. The vestibule had a chequered marble floor and a grand staircase. She was admitted by a footman. ‘Her ladyship is probably in the nursery,’ he said. ‘Shall I go tell her you are here?’

‘No, I will go find her.’

Sophie was perfectly familiar with the layout of the house and soon found her way up to the nursery suite, where her sister was playing on the floor with her ten-month-old son, Harry. She scrambled to her feet when Sophie entered. ‘Sophie, what brings you here? There is nothing wrong at home, I hope.’

‘No, everyone is well. Can’t I visit my sister when I feel like it?’

‘Of course, anytime. You know that.’ She rescued Harry from a cupboard he had crawled into to investigate. ‘I was thinking of wheeling Harry out for a little fresh air. Shall you come, too?’

‘Yes, I should like that.’

Instructions were given to the nursemaid to put warm clothes on the infant and bring him down to the back hall where his baby carriage was kept.