During the Regency, few women had a choice when it came to marriage...
This is a snippet from my forthcoming novel, An Improper Marriage:
Eleanor eyed the man whom had stood in place of her father for the last six years. Dressed neatly and without ostentation in a dark blue coat in a finely-woven wool cloth which itself spoke of wealth, he was a ruggedly handsome man with close-cropped sandy hair which showed only a sprinkling of silver. Deep furrows around his pale blue eyes and his unusually stern mouth bore witness to his concern both for her and the situation. He was a good man and she held him in considerable affection, for even as a schoolroom chit still grieving the loss of her papa, she had felt drawn to Robert Holt. Nevertheless, what he was asking her to do was positively medieval.
“But sir, he is nigh on twenty years older than I!” she protested.
“What has that to say to anything?” he countered. “Jeremiah Knight is a fine man; honest, upstanding and in good health. He is heir to the Knight family estates and wealthy in his own right. He could give you every luxury and, what is more, is prepared to invest heavily in Henzey and Holt’s expansion of Belleview Glassworks.”
Eleanor tossed her head of chestnut ringlets. “So you are selling me for the sake of a marriage settlement!”
An expression of pain crossed Robert’s features. “Eleanor, must you always speak so plainly? It is not like that. You are aware, however, how long I have wished to specialize in fine quality Flint glassware.”
“My father did not like me to be mealy-mouthed,” she replied sharply, ignoring the second part of his speech. “He hated hypocrisy in any form.”
“Your mother would have hated to hear her daughter speak so forcefully and in a manner unbecoming to a young lady,” he said quietly.
Eleanor flushed at the reprimand and lowered her eyes to the skirt of her butterscotch-coloured muslin morning gown, automatically smoothing the soft fabric. She had only recently begun to wear colours again following her mother’s untimely death under the wheels of a runaway coal wagon the winter before last.
“I beg your pardon, sir,” she said stiffly. “I did not mean to give offence. But I beg you will reconsider!” Impulsively she jumped to her feet, pushing back by several inches the carved mahogany armchair in which she had been sitting, and ran to him. Clutching his arm, she gazed beseechingly up at him. “Please, Papa Robert.”
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