In yet another drawing room, a comical female of indeterminate years sat nodding over a teacup as a plump, but well-aspected matron spoke to her in low tones.
“No, I’m afraid it is all too true, Miss Perrymore,” the matron said. “Her brother simply forgot all about her!”
The teacup in Miss Perrymore’s hand rattled a bit at this outrageous remark, and she lifted trembling fingers to her mouth in an overwrought display of shock. “I cannot believe it, Mrs. Benning!”
Mrs. Benning nodded, the lace on her cap fluttering with the insistent movement. “With their father off gallivanting heaven knows where, and her brother residing in Oxford, he -- her brother -- leased Endicott House to a gentleman from the north without making any provision at all for his sister, and poor Amy learned of it only when she arrived home from school on holiday to find the door of her own home answered by a stranger! She had to seek shelter with her father’s estate manager and his family!”
Miss Perrymore’s eyes misted over. “The poor dear! She is so lucky, Serena, to have come to you.”
Mrs. Benning continued breathlessly, “She was sent to live with an aunt for a time after that, but apparently there was a mesalliance in the offing, as she had become the object of the vicar’s attentions…”
“Now who could object to a country vicar?” Miss Perrymore interrupted, as was her usual habit.
“Who indeed? But it was not the vicar her aunt objected to, my dear, but the girl herself! Her aunt’s opinion of the vicar was such that she thought her own niece rather beneath his touch!”
“No!” exclaimed Miss Perrymore, her eyes now as wide as saucers.
“Oh, yes. She was advertising for a position as a governess when my dear friend Mrs. Murray brought her to my attention. No doubt Amy Endicott is well-educated and very accomplished, and heaven knows she is very good with my boys when their tutor needs assistance, but to be a governess…?” Mrs. Benning trailed off in a meaningful way.
The two ladies regarded the fine young woman in question, who was thankfully just out of earshot and diligently matching silks for Mrs. Benning’s embroidery. She was a very young lady, just turned eighteen, with clear blue eyes and thick chestnut hair arranged in braids around her head and with a wavy fringe around her soft face. Even the plain lavender gown she wore could not disguise her full bust and fine figure, and it could not be said whether either lady viewing her regarded her with envy, but both would easily have agreed that she was the loveliest young girl they had seen in some time.
Miss Perrymore gave a sniff. “She could never have been a governess. She would have been importuned by every male above the age of fifteen she encountered -- sons and fathers alike.”
“Exactly! Mrs. Murray knew I was seeking a companion, and urged me to meet with her, and I am so glad I did, for she is the very best girl. So considerate and helpful! I just wish her own family’s affairs were not so...so muddled!”
Another excerpt from the new project. (See? I really am writing, you guys.)