Opening Excerpt | copyright ©2015 Barry Huggins All Rights Reserved
Letter from Lady Constance Fawley to Sir Edgar Bryce
Maybury House, Sussex, 25th January 1869
My Dear Edgar,
I feel compelled, by way of those unseen forces that so often guide our hand, to chide you for the shameless way you proceeded to dangle Lady Hansbury from your arm like a tarnished trinket for the greater part of the evening at Lord and Lady Lessingdon's ball - tarnished, courtesy of the swarthy tint that graced her sun exposed skin. Were I not so generous in my thoughts, I would swear she presented herself attired in the most radiant white silk of which nature could conceive, just for the purpose of emphasising the earthy tones of her complexion. But I am in no doubt she took great pleasure in parading her raw, native appearance like a medal of honour to mark her somewhat extended sojourn in the Indian Subcontinent.
But, my dear Edgar, I sound bitter, offended, and appear to chastise you, but nothing could be further from my state of being on this late January morning.
My only grievance was that the lady in question unfairly monopolised your company for the duration of the tiresome affair we have all grown to accept as the annual Lessingdon Ball, and I had to endure it without the occasional attention you would normally afford me. I fear your kind and generous nature has been abused, and I wish for nothing more than to see propriety restored, as is the way in civilised society.
Will I see you at Lord and Lady Wesley's on Thursday evening? I have to be present as it is a charity evening, and I am the patron of the charity. I am happy to perform this duty, but I do so wish people were blessed with the modesty to make their donation without the accompanying fanfare - there is so much more virtue in generosity when anonymity is its benefactor. As patron, I will have to endure the customary ritual of flattering their inflated sense of self worth and professing my admiration at such magnanimity; then I will occupy the remainder of the evening watching them strut imperiously at their magnificence for condescending to bestow a few guineas to the impoverished unfortunates of the Empire.
The truth is - their contributions are hardly sacrifices large enough to impact noticeably upon their personal portfolios. I venture between them, they account for some eight-tenths of all London’s wealth!
But forgive me - I am starting to sound bitter again and seek fault where perhaps it does not exist. I cannot understand why this fractious mood has confounded me these past weeks.
Do try to come to Lord and Lady Wesley's - they would be inconsolable were you not to make an appearance.
Your ever attentive,
P.S. The possibility has not escaped my attention that perhaps you have acquired a predilection for ladies of a more dusky countenance.
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