Now, it is oft spoken in certain circles of men’s society, such as may be found in the smoky gambling rooms in the Clubs of St. James—White’s and Boodle’s to be exact—that Lord Devilyn is not one to be persuaded to discontinue his rampant disregard for proprietary rules of correct behavior regarding amorous activities between himself and any unescorted unmarried female he may come across in his traveling, such as the Lady Angela for example, simple to the fact that he has had long experience with the miscalculations and manipulations of the fairer sex who, left with no other options to save their virtue, simply allow fate to intervene on their behalf with their Remarkable swoons, all the while knowing that fate is most capricious when the danger exceeds the zone of interference!
Therefore, in his dealings with the swooning form of our heroine, Lord Devilyn simply laid the limply beautiful Lady Angela to the ground near a pond of such placid contentment there were a family of swans: the cob, the pen and their two adorable cygnets, gliding hither and thither from a short distance, their haughty noses up in the air like ancient majestic horns. With a most Villainous chuckle did our Lordship lay down beside our heroine and prop himself up on one elbow; and when set to the most extreme closeness of intimacy, he, with one hand, began brushing tendrils of hair from the Lady Angela’s fair and dainty forehead. Our heroine meanwhile, having swooned to disguise with great success, or so she believed, now found herself to be laid out in a most uncompromising, unrefined, unladylike position imaginable!; and forced—with great speediness of thought—to determine just how skillfully she could extricate herself out of this contretemps! Oh! what a Dismal unfortunate consequence it was, that Lady Angela had so totally misjudged the intent of Lord Devilyn, so arrogantly dismissed the danger he presented, and was so full of her own regard, that she now lay in mortal fear that if she moved one scintilla of an inch, the Villainous man might interpret it as an invitation to continue his most improper advances!
Nevertheless, as inaction in such moments can oft lead to certain and Disastrous consequences for a woman in her perilous state, Lady Angela very quickly gathered her scattered wits about and did swiftly roll away from our handsome rake, and very nearly into the pond, disturbing the serenity of our family of swans—the cob of whom did eye the goings on of our heroine with a recklessly jaundiced eye as though seeing her as an interloper in their family outing, so much so, he began to swim with great speed towards shore so that Lady Angela for once in her life, perceived the imminent danger; and knowing the flying creature’s hostile habits a great deal more than her unqualified, presumptuous knowledge of the human male, despite her self-arrogant, self-assurance of vast experience with them, stumbled to her feet and fled right into the arms of Lord Devilyn, who had returned to his former position of standing, to watch with great amusement Lady Angela’s near roll into the pond—albeit with swan-like grace—and totally with out regard for her fashionable dress, such that he did laugh with much gusto, putting a temporary damper on his amorous musings until she fell into his arms again.
This time our heroine, realizing what a foolish thing it was to repeat such an exacting pattern of behavior, did break free quickly and ran as if her virtue depended on it, which, if you recall from the previous chapter, dear readers, it did; but oh! how woefully slow was she to recognize this threat by the handsome, domineering presence of Lord Devilyn, who did take lightly the feelings of Lady Angela such to the degree that he had not one jot, not one whit, not one ounce of care in preserving our heroine’s reputation so long as he enjoyed the fruits of his labor! Well, he most assuredly got his comeuppance when Lady Angela, with latent immediacy to be sure, found her scatter-bobbled wits and fled from the park as if the furious snow-white winged creature from the pond, was fast on her heels to shred bits of her flesh with its sharp talons!
When upon arrival at her home at 27 Gay Street, a delightfully spacious four storey abode with bisque-colored facing, an ivory ornamental triangular pediment above the transom of the exterior oaken door, and within the interior, crown mouldings of exquisite marquetry which bespoke of great wealth in our Ladyships’ family, Lady Angela flounced up to her overly ornate bedroom and would have—if she had had it—thrown her formerly Beautiful bonnet onto the bed with gross ill-feeling; but, having to do otherwise, she yanked her dress off with such vehemence as to frighten the most gentlest of creatures—her brother, Roger, who, even if he was a bit of a rat tattle—was peeking through the keyhole before he scurried down the hallway so as to not delay the delicious moment when he would impart to his Aunt the most unladylike conduct of his sister; and convey to her his fear that she had gone completely mad!
“Auntie Joan,” cried the young boy of eight and three as he dashed into the parlor where his most maternal of Aunts sat doing needle-point. “Angel has lost her wits. I fear she will do herself great harm. You must go at once and save her!”
Aunt Joan Brumbly, a short, warmly-rounded creature of some advanced age, was gifted with a most serene temperament and placidity of nature, and so very patient in most all things, though quite intransigent in others, particular in her dealings with the very passionate, unserenelike temper of her niece, Lady Angela. Upon hearing her nephew’s excitable proclamation, she merely raised an eyebrow. Though Aunt Joan thought him a very dear, sweet, loving child, Roger was prone to exaggerate in all of his observations, so much so, that at various times the Brumbly household had been visited by the local constabulary almost as often as the young boy’s shirts were laundered! And heaven forbid were I to mention the most Terrifying time of all! when members of the household were rousted from their beds by the most fearful, most harrowing, most excessive ear-piercing screams!— all due to the fact that Roger had placed a candle on top of the cotton coverlet on his bed so as to read at night books of Adventure, when supposing to all, he was deep in slumber, so that when in time he came upon a singularly gruesome section of one particular book, the highly imaginative boy commenced to jump, knocking over the candle; but poor Roger, not having the presence of mind to remove it from the bed to the table, began screaming Fire! Fire! Fire! at the first indicator of smoke! Roger received a severe boxing to his ears by his sister, who had been dreaming of things all romantical and swashbuckling in nature, until rudely awakened by her brother’s shrieks.
“Oh dear, dear Roger,” Aunt Joan replied most fondly, “you simply must curtail your excessively excitable imagination, because I am of a certainty that your sister is merely having a woeful day. They do seem to occur more often than not.”
“But this time it is different! You must go to her. Please, Auntie Joan!”
The good woman sighed, gathered up her embroidery, and took her glasses off, setting them on a remarkably Beautiful circular pedestal side table, made out of the finest burl oak and crafted to exquisite proportions. “Oh very well. I daresay you will not be satisfied until I have deduced the situation to be of no consequence and therefore well in hand. You are such a trying boy, my dear Roger. But I do love you so.” The affectionate woman patted the boy on the shoulder and left the room, though she was, if truth be told, feint at heart at the perishing thought of yet another confrontation with her niece, the third in only a matter of two days! And with a signifying Assembly Ball fast approaching!
A knock on our heroine’s door yielded only but the faintest of replies. Aunt Joan, however, did take it upon herself to interpret the sound as welcoming. She hastened in and found her niece clad only in her underlings, and taking a pair of scissors to her newly-made gown, cutting out strips of cloth so wide and lengthy that one would have thought it was to bandage a wounded soldier come lately from the war. Abjectly, and immediately Distraught, Aunt Joan could scarcely find the words to rebuke her dear niece, but inevitably, much like the sun rising after a cloudy morning, she did. “My dearest Angela, what are you about? What has brought on this most Detestable of fits? Surely nothing that warrants such drastic action. You must of assurity remember how your dear uncle feels about such wastefulness. And think of the poorest of the poor gentlewoman reduced to working as a governess or companion, and without your advantageous upbringing, who would feign near kill to possess a gown of such muslin quality at five pounds a yard. Five pounds!”
Our heroine, with a most aggravated look on her face, threw the Offending garment to the ground and stomped on it. “I do not care. I do not care what other females wish to wear, Aunt Joan. I have been attacked in a most reprehensible manner, and I want never to be reminded of it again!” She glared with such sincerity of Truth at her Aunt, the poor woman’s face crumbled into shuddersome consternation so severe as would most likely give her palpitations—were she partial to them; but of a more immediate concerning nature, was that upon the exact moment of hearing Lady Angela’s Loathsome reply, the blossoming of all manner of tragical and lurid pictures relative to vulgar, and certainly sordid notions of what may have transpired against her beloved niece, proceeded to drop forbidden fruit in Aunt Joan’s fertile mind, so much so her heart was consumed with much dread, and the presentiment of prodigious worry!
The poor woman staggered backward of a step or two trying to organize her thoughts in a more orderly manner so as to give some train of logic to them. “I cannot . . . I cannot fathom it . . . I simply cannot. You are a Lady my dearest Angela. Who would perpetuate such a foul thing, such a gross impertinence upon your person that you wish to destroy all evidence of evildoing? We must go straight to the constabulary, my dear.” Her hands flapped much like a hummingbird flying gaily about on a bright spring day. “No, no, first, I must have conversation with your Uncle Peter. Depend upon it, he will know what to do. I’m sure he will know what to do . . .” She abruptly turned and fled the room and the wrath of her niece—so peacockian in nature—to go in search of her husband—though she was not keen to do so—for Lord Peter Brumbly could be a severely ill-tempered man when roused from a state of intense concentration such as he was wont to be in: in consequence of his new hobby, a partiality that required such delicacy of touch, such solitude of thought, such quietness of surrounding, that any little noise, or any interruption would send him into a roar that shook the very foundations of the house! But there was nothing to be done for it. He must be informed of Lady Angela’s Terrible consequence at once!
Scarcely had Aunt Joan left our heroine’s room to fly so unluckily into the study at just the wrong time—for Uncle Peter had a mere six seconds before inserted his ship, a replica of the Spanish Galleon, the Santa Clara, into a bottle and was about to raise its glorious masts—that, consequent to her intrusion, a roar mightier than a lion’s ascended with great speed and at such high decibel that passerby's walking about outside—even those members wearing ear trumpets, who would later gossip at the ball as to what possible capacity Lord Brumbly was so engaged in that he did cry out in such an uncivilized manner! Well, dear reader, we know the ultimate cause of this calamitous roar, as did our heroine who abruptly stopped the renting of her Distressed garment upon hearing that most hideous of sound; as did her brother, Roger, who quickly scurried over to the dining room table to hide underneath its immense proportions!
As for poor Aunt Joan, she was not only the bearer of Infamously bad news, but was in the most unfortunate position of being in direct line of descent to the thunderous bellow! Straight forth did she put the daintiest hands over her ears in hopeful anticipation that the gravelly, choking kind of sound which sometimes proceeded a roar, and which rendered Lord Brumbly unable to speak well for some few seconds, would shortly make its presence known. And I can assure you dear readers, it was a fairly common happenstance that after one of his Infamous roars, Lord Brumbly’s voice would trail off in due time to coarse hoarseness! Oh! what divine providence was it then that Uncle Peter did clutch at his throat such that it allowed Aunt Joan—and with a great degree of haste—to anxiously pass the desperately Bad news for which she suffered greatly. Now, I have yet to remark upon Lord Brumbly’s normally pale complexion—the result of spending so much time indoors as was his decided preference—after such a fit of distemper from whichever source was its causation; allowing, in this instance, the cause to be Lady Angela’s most unfortunate encounter with Lord Devilyn, such that Lord Brumbly’s face did turn a most peculiar rose color much like what one might see on the faces of those patrons who do partake of too much ale and asundry other alcoholic beverages in a tavern, where roars of laughter could be, and most probably are, far more frightening than a lion’s roar, though, unlike a lion, Uncle Peter’s roar, as we have been led to believe, would in due course die down.
In normal circumstances. These were not normal circumstances, for Lord Brumbly, in his post-roar state, did most recklessly and without compunction for dignity of form, fly up the stairs to confront our heroine in order to get the sordid facts straight, of which he suspicioned his wife had not; for, it was his decided opinion, that his beloved Joan was somewhat shatterbrained, and any undue amount of stress and anxiety made her even more so, to the extent that by the time he barged into his niece’s room without so much as a howdy do, Uncle Peter had quite worked himself into a lather. But perhaps it might have gone infinitely smoother had not he, upon first entering our heroine’s bedchamber, laid incredulous eyes on the destruction of the fine muslin day gown for himself; for it was that pitiable sight of beauty torn asunder that did give much impetus of fury in his tone, such that it turned a tolerable and reasonable seeking of an explanation, into the railing firestorm of words it became!
“Upon my word, Angela, what in the name of all that is wicked have you done? You have singularly put your Aunt’s state of mind into a fog of shock, uneasiness, and anxiety that will last until such time as she is able to overcome; you have contributed much to the destruction of my ship, which of a certainty I shall have to refasten after hours of laborious work; you have frightened to the devil your poor brother Roger, whose vivid imagination will undoubtably, and indubitably, in the near future, and at considerable expense to myself, require repairs to this house; and lastly, with your daily fits of ill-temper, your unthoughtful, ungrateful, and disrespectful way of speaking, you compound the utter lack of regard for your family with a disgraceful display of egregious conduct by destroying a very expensive gown! Pray, girl, what have you to say for yourself?”
Now, dear reader, one would expect our heroine to show a little humility, perhaps a little grace, and, if not alt else, surely a great deal of shame for her unbridled ways at her uncles’s summary level of charges, harshly accurate though they may be; but the Lady Angela did not curtsy to anyone, never admitted any wrong-doing to anyone, and very rarely did she show gratitude for anything she had received through all the years she had been growing into proportion. Therefore, her reply was somewhat startling in a pudding sort of way, and roundly distressing to all who heard it.
“My dear Uncle Peter, I-I most stringently repudiate the . . . the accusations you have so unkindly leveled towards me. But I do so with love, because I am a loving and forgiving young woman in the prime of her life; and, though I most sincerely have great love, respect, and gratitude for my dearest Uncle Peter and Aunt Joan, who did take me in, and my poor beloved brother, Roger, after our dear Momma and Papa died in that most unforgivable, Despicable curricle accident!—and surely I do know with heart-felt certainty that your actions acceded the bounds of all generosity!—but to dress me down now, and in such a frightfully earnest, and quite rude manner along with such a disharmonious tone of ill-bred feeling, particular after my person was attacked so viciously whilst on a walk to clear my head—a walk with my thoughts both yearning and studious as I did ponder how I could be a better niece to my dearest Aunt and Uncle—all the while innocently unaware of the danger that lay before me—to thus be a recipient of an out and out verbal assault upon my good and loving nature, especially from a beloved Uncle whom I quite adore and worship with all my heart . . . is simply too grievous to bear!” The Lady Angela then committed, with great theatrical affect, her body to a most decidedly unladylike flop onto her bed, with heart-rending sobs that would bid an angel to earth to build a dam!
What could Lord Brumbly say after such a passionate display of Tragic feeling, after such an accusatory diatribe with softened rebuke, after a most eloquent profession of love, accompanied by tears of the sort Uncle Peter had never seen from his beloved niece, along with, to be sure, those most elegant, but previously unspoken expressions of monumental gratitude for her aunt and uncle’s beneficence? Is it any wonder the man was quite stricken to the mute at the notion he had severely damaged the tender feelings of his beloved niece by reckless, ill-timed, thoughtless, and accusatory words?