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The Trysting Place

The Trysting Place

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Published by matrila9817
Book by Mary Balogh
Book by Mary Balogh

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Published by: matrila9817 on Dec 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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MaryBalogh.TheTrystingPlace.
^}Chapter1FortwowholeweekseverythingthathappenedintheMaynardhouseholdrevolvedaroundonefact:Felicitywascominghome.Thetwinshadhadnewmuslindressesfortheoccasion,madebythevillageseamstress,notinthenewestmode,theyfeared,whentheysawthatthecopyoftheBelleAssembleeoutofwhichtheyhadtakenthedesignwasmorethanayearold.Butstill,thedresseswerenew,onein primrose,theotherinpinkbecausenoone,notevenPapainhismoreabsentmindedmoods,couldtellthemapartiftheyworeidenticalclothing.Felicitywouldseethemattheirbestandtheywouldconvinceheroftheiradvancedageandsophistication.DuringthosetwoweeksMr.Maynardspentlesstimethanusualinhisoffice,poringovertheestate books,andmoreoutinthestablesseeingthatthehorseswerewell-groomed,andinthefieldsseeingthatthecropswereallplantedandthecowsandsheepsafelyinthepasturewheretheyweresupposedtobe.ItwasimportantthatFelicityseeaprosperousestatewhenshecamehome.Hewouldnothaveherfeelthathersacrificehadbeeninvain.Hestillfeltguiltywhenhethoughtofit.Consequently,hetriedtoavoidthinkingofthematter.Mrs.Maynardenlistedtheservicesofthehousekeeperandthegardener.Theformerhelpedhertakeinventoryofallthehouseholdlinens.Thesecondbestsheetsandpillowcaseswouldcertainlynotbegoodenough,evenintheroomsthatFelicitywasunlikelytosee.Everyone'sbedwastobemadeupwiththe best.Andallthetablelinensweretobechanged.Onlylacewoulddo,thoseclothsthatsheherselfhadmadewithherownmamabeforeherwedding.Thegardenerwasinstructedtoseetoitthatthelawnswereneatlycut,theshrubstrimmed,andthedaffodilsandtulipsinbloom.Thepoormanscratchedhisheadandlookedthoughtfulatthelastinstruction,sinceinhisexperienceallflowersbloomedwhentheywerereadyanddiedwhentheirtimewasup.ButifMissFelicitywascoming,thenhewouldhavetodohisbest.TheMaynardboyswerefromhome.CedricwasthenewlyappointedcurateofSt.Jude's,thirtymilesaway,andthenewhusbandoftheformerMissBerthaMannering,daughterofaneighboringlandowner.ItwasunlikelythattheywouldcomehomesolelyforthepurposeofseeingFelicity,butLaura,themoreindustrious,twin,satdowntowritethemalongletterapprisingthemofthefactofhersister'svisit.ShewrotetoAdrianaswell.Itwasnotthathewouldchoosenottocome.Poorboy,hewouldbewildwitheagernesstodojustthat.ButEtonschoolboysarenotallowedtogotearinghomewheneverthespiritmovesthem.Ifthatwerethecase,Adrianwouldnotevenbeaboarder,butaveryirregulardaypupil,Laurareflectedwithasmileasshesignedhernamewithaflourishatthebottomofthecloselywrittensheet.Felicitywascominghomeafterfiveyears.Itwasalongtime.Mr.Maynardhadonlybeenbeginning
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torecoverwhenshehadleft.Hisstableshadstillbeenalmostbare,hissoilpoor,hisfencesinneedof repair,histenants'housesdilapidated.Hehadnolongerbeenindangerofruin,buttheimprovementshadbeenslow.Itwasonlyinthelasttwoorthreeyears,infact,thathisestatehadbeguntolookagainlikethatofareasonablywell-to-doman.Fiveyearsbefore,Mfs.Maynardhadonlybeguntorecoverthenaturalplacidityoftemperthatcarriedherunscathedthroughanynumberofcrises.Butshehadlostitforafewyearswhenshehad beenconvincedthattheywereallboundforthepoor-house.Herfavoriteoccupationinthosedayshad beentotakestockofallthefurnishingsofthehouse,allthepicturesandlinensandchinaandpotsand pans,alltheclothesandjewelrytheypossessed,andlistthemintheorderinwhichtheyweretobe pawnedorsold.Fiveyearsbefore,CedrichadjustgoneuptoOxford,andMrs.MaynardhadshedmanytearsduringFelicity'svisitoverthemiraclethathadallowedhimtogothereinsteadofhavingtoseekemploymentasafarmlaborerorinoneofthenewfactoriesinsometown.Adrianhadbeenonlytenyearsoldandalreadybenefitingfromtheinstructionofastricttutor.NotthatAdrianwouldhaveconsidereditabenefit,ofcourse.Hehadbeen,andstillwas,asdifferentfromhisbrotheraschalkisfromcheese.Whiletheolderboywasneverhappierthanwhenhehadhisnoseinabook,Adriansawreadingandstudyingassomeformofhorrificinventiontointerruptlife.Ifhecouldhavespentallhisdaysclimbingtreesorfishinginthestreamorridinghishorseorminglingwithhisfather'sfarmlaborers,offeringhelpandshowingsurprisingstaminaforonesoyoungandgentlybred,hewouldhavethoughttherewasnoneedtodieinordertogotoheaven.Thetwinshadbeenjustthirteen,tallandgangly,pigtailsswingingtotheirwaists,dressesinevitablytorninmorethanoneplace,noisyandunruly.TheydidtheirlessonswithAdrianandpracticedonthe pianoforteforhalfanhoureachdayandsatwithMamaeachafternoontolearnalltheembroiderystitchesthathadeverbeeninvented.TheysketchedandpaintedinwatercolorsandwereasaccomplishedattheartasthousandsofothergirlsinEngland.TheystillclimbedtreeswithAdrianwhentherewasnothingelsetodoandstillrodeastridewhentherewasnoonetoseethemandscold.Andtheywerebeginningtonudgeeachotherandgigglewheneverapassablyhandsomeboymovedwithintheirlineofvision,usuallyatchurchonSundays.ManywasthetimewhenthetwinwhowasunfortunateenoughtositnexttoMamawaspunishedwithapowerfuldigintheribsfromherelbow.AllfourmembersofthefamilystilllivingathomethenwaitedeagerlytoshowFelicityhowthingshadchanged.Mr.Maynardwasnowunquestionablycomfortableandwell-to-do.Farmersformilesaroundenviedhisorderlyandprosperousestate.Mrs.Maynard,withoutbeinginanywayconceited,nowenjoyedthepositionofleadingladyoftheneighborhood.Sheandherfamilyoccupiedtheonlypadded pewinthechurchonSundays,andheropinionwasalwaysdeferredtoinanycommunitydecision.Her namealwaysheadedthelistofguestsforanyentertainmentwithinmiles.Itwasallmostgratifying,especiallywhenonehadawealthydaughtercomingtovisit.Thetwins,ofcourse,werebubblingwithexcitementathavingthechancetoshowtheirsisterjusthowgrown-uptheywere-allofeighteen,withoceansofpoiseandworldlywisdombetweenthem.Theyhadaschemeallworkedout,whichnooneknewofexceptthem.Theywhisperedandgiggledaboutitfrequently,buthadpromisedeachotherthattheywouldnotbreatheawordofittoFelicity-oranyoneelse,forthatmatter-untiltheyweresurethatitwouldbereceivedfavorably.Bytheafternoonofthedayonwhichthevisitorwasexpected,excitementwasrunninghigh.Mr.Maynardhadmadethreeseparatetripstothestablestomakesurethatthegroomshadbrushedallthehorsesuntiltheircoatsshone.Mamaandthegirlsweredressed,thetwinsintheirnewmuslins,Mrs.Maynardinhersecond-best,thegownsheworetochurchonSundays.Cookwasinalather,having
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 bakedfourdifferentcakeswhenshesuddenlyrememberedthateachwasMissFelicity'sfavorite,inadditiontopreparingadinnerthatwouldhavebeenmorethanadequateforafull-scalebanquet.LadyFelicityWrenwastryingtorelaxintheverycomfortablecarriageinwhichsherodealone.Ifshehadthewindowup,theinteriorquicklybecamehotandairless.Ifsheloweredit,thedustfromtheroadstunghereyesanddriedherthroat.Theseatthatsheoccupied,thoughofplushvelvetandwell-sprung,felthotanduncomfortableafterhoursoftravel,relievedbyonlyonebriefstopforluncheon.Shehadtossedasideherbonnetlongagoanddrawnoffherkidgloves.Butshelongedtoraponthefrontpanelandorderthefootmantoletherdownsothatshemightwalkatthesideoftheroad,feelingthecoolgrassagainstherankles,listeningtothechaffinchesinthetreesandgatheringsomeoftheprimrosesfromamongthehedgerows.Ofcourse,shecouldnotdoso.ShewasLadyWren.Butitwasamazinghowclosenesstohomecouldalmostnullifythehabitsofeightyearsandmakeherwanttobehaveasshehadasagirl.Shesighed.Fiveyears!Itwasfiveyearssinceshehadbeenathome.Shecouldnotquiteexplaintoherselfwhyithadbeensolong.ShehadbeeninEnglandmostofthetime,shesupposed,thoughsheandWilfredhadtraveledextensivelyontheContinent.True,theyhadlivedinthenorth,toofarfromSussexforacasualvisit,butthatwasnoexcuse.TheyhadbeeninLondonfortheSeasonalmosteveryyear.Shehadalways promisedherselfthatshewouldtakeaweekofffromthebusysocialroundofcitylifeduringthespringandcomehome.Butshehadneverdonesoafterthefirstfewyears.Shehadbeengladtoseeher  parentsrecovering,pleasedtoknowthattheywerehappyintheknowledgethattheirhomeandpositionweresecure,gratifiedtoseethatPapawasmakingtheefforttoimprovehisestatesothatinfuturehecouldbeindependentlyaffluent.Shehadbeendelightedtoseethechildren,toknowthattheirwayoflifewouldbepreservedforthem.Evenso,thoseearlyvisitshadbeenpainful.Theirhappinessandsecurityhadbeendearlybought.ItwasnotthatshefoundherlifewithWilfredunendurable.Infact,shehadalifemorefullofglamourandvarietythanshecouldeverhavedreamedof.Butwhenshewashome,shewasremindedtoostronglyof thewaylifehadbeen:simple,routine,happy.Andshealwayshadtobeenthusiasticduringthosevisits,regalingthemwithstoriesabouttonparties,herpresentationtotheoldqueenatSt.James's,hervisitstoViennaandRomeandParis.Shehadtodressinallhermostelegantgownsandfinery.Andalltoconvincethemthatshewashappy,that,infact,nosacrificehadbeenmadeatall.Allthatmighthavebeenbearable.Shemighthavecontinuedthevisits.Buttherewasthatother,too.ShehadneverknownwhenshemightrunintoTom,andshecouldnothavebornethat.Andyet,eachtimewhenshedidnotrunintohim,shehadreturnedtoLondondisappointed.Ofcourse,onthefirsttwovisitshomeshehadknownhewouldnotbethere.Hewasstillatuniversitythefirsttime.HewasinEurope,makingthegrandtourthesecondtime.Butonthethirdoccasionshehadknownthathewasathome,andshehadtakengreatpainstoavoidalltheplaceswherehemightbe,evenfeigningaheadachesothatshewouldnothavetoaccompanyherfamilytochurchonSunday.Butthatwasallbehindhernow,allofit.Forthefirsttimeineightyearsshefeltfree,totallyfree,andshewasgoingtomakethemostofit.Shehadeveryintentionofstartingtolivelifetothefull,ofputtingthepastbehindher,ofmakingupforlosttime.ShehadmarriedWilfredeightyearsbefore.Shehadmadethesacrifice,almostkickingandscreamingthewholeway,butshehadmadeit.Shecouldremembernowthehorrorshehadfeltwhentheelderlymanbywhomshehadbeensorepulsedata birthdayballtenmilesawayhadcalledonherfatherthedayaftertomakeanofferforher.Shehadknownthatshewasanexceptionallybeautifulgirl,withherwell-developedfigure,thickgoldenhair,andivory-tintedcomplexion.Andshehaddressedthatnighttodazzle,inagownofwhiteBrusselslaceover apinkunderdress,thebrainchildofthevillageseamstress.Butthedayaftershehadcursedherbeautyandhergown.SirWilfredWrenwishedtomarryher.
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