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The Major

    ‘No need to say that, my dear, you have my permission to marry him without any reservations. I hear nothing but good about him from my army connections. I’m certain you’ll be very happy.’ He kissed her cheek and then shook hands with the Major. ‘You have a pearl of great price here, but then you know that. However, Major! I know nothing about your financial position now the army no longer needs you, so I must know what you will rely upon to support my daughter.’
     At this moment her mama came rushing down the path, breathing heavily and fanning herself.
     ‘Charlotte! Charlotte! Here you are! What is going on here? Charlotte come to your mama immediately. Come!’ She reached out her hand to draw Charlotte to her side.
     But Charlotte stayed where she was beside Maxim, where she intended to stay for the rest of her life. She had little regard for her mother but she was never rude to her.  
     ‘Tristan, tell her!’ Leonora saw that the Major’s right hand was now gripping Charlotte’s shoulder. ‘Unhand her! Major! This instant!’
     ‘Mama! I have just accepted Major Gurney’s proposal of marriage, I hope you’ll be pleased.
     ’Leonora, always one for admiring handsome well set up men, almost exploded with jealousy. How could this thin, unappealing daughter without, as far as she was concerned, a single feminine attribute, have entrapped such a glorious specimen of manhood as Major Gurney? A man who turned her knees to jelly, just as he did to all the females who met him. She wouldn’t allow it. No, she would not. It was all a tease, it was she whom men wanted, not this plain Jane of a daughter of hers.
     ‘Tristan! Tell her. She can’t marry him! Tell her.’
     ‘Unfortunately my dear, I have already given my permission, as a gentleman I cannot go back on my word.’ Sir Tristan smiled benignly at his wife, regretting yet again his young man’s foolishness in marrying her. ‘The wedding will take place as soon as possible, neither of them want to wait, indeed what is the point at their age, especially when they are so sure?’
     Charlotte’s Mama thought she knew the real reason for the hurry. ‘Ah! I knew it! Been at the trough before you get the ring on her finger is that it Major? I knew there was something odd about this. When. . . .’
     Sir Tristan roared his disapproval.
     ‘Leonora! Compose yourself! There is no need for such gutter talk here.’
     ‘My daughter! My precious daughter! How dare you! The shame! The absolute shame! I shall never live it down!’ Out came her linen handkerchief and she wept dramatically into it, at the same time keeping a watchful eye on the Major’s reaction.
     Major Gurney sensing that Charlotte felt their love was besmirched by her mother’s assumption, bowed slightly to Leonora, saying, ‘Lady Templeton, I am an honourable man despite my racketing army career and all the stories that you hear about me, and I’m sorry you think so ill of me. I have known since we first met that we would marry, but we had to be sure of each other and I was afraid to ask her, as I was not born a gentleman and never will be, but, she is a lady in every sense of the word, so I was afraid she wouldn’t want to marry me. But she does.’ The Major smiled so gently at her that Leonora’s heart missed a beat.
     Surprised by his frank announcement, she stared hard at his face and was enslaved by his noble brow and the depth of passion in his Northern voice. She hadn’t known that the severe face he usually presented to the world could look so alluring, so deeply genuine and. . . . .well. . . .overcome by emotion. Leonora cleared her throat. That slight Northern accent would never do, it needed to be chipped away and she was the woman to do it for him, and then he’d be a very pleasant addition to her dinner parties, the world and his wife would be clamouring for invitations. Oh! Yes.




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