...18th century style, of course!
Excerpt from 'The Rebel's Promise'
In this excerpt, we join Jack and Rosie at a party to mark the occasion of her engagement to Sir Clive, a point at which the conflict between our hero and heroine is at its height.
“Your gown suits you very well,” he informed her, steering her expertly around the dance floor, “It announces to the world that you have the heart of a common harlot beneath all that expensive silk and lace.”
He might be angry – although Rosie had no idea why – but that was going too far! They were separated briefly by the movement of the set and, when they came back together, Rosie’s own temper – usually slow to ignite – had already reached boiling point. Between his cold fury and her white hot chagrin, it was obvious to even the most casual observer that a sizzling argument was underway.
“How dare you!” Rosie hissed, her hand, gripped tightly in his, twitched convulsively with the effort of not slapping him.
Jack shrugged, “The truth stings, does it not?” he asked, through gritted teeth, “You should take yourself off to Covent Garden and ply your trade there. With your wares so openly on display,” he indicated the exposed half-globes of her bosom, “I’ve no doubt you would be a success.”
“Is that where you found your fine mistress?” Rosie spat back at him, “I don’t see you berating Lady Cavendish who is practically falling out of her gown. Since when did you become a puritan, my lord? Was it in her bed? I had heard she teaches a very different type of lesson from its oft-used depths.”
“Is this display for any man who cares to look his fill? Or is it to inflame your intended? I believe his predilection for whores is well known. Do you whisper sweet words of love to him as you flaunt your charms in front of his eyes?”
Jack knew he was degenerating into a jealous rant now, but he found he could not stop firing bitter questions at her. A few interested glances were cast their way.
“What do you say to him, Rosie? Do you use the same sugared phrases and feigned artlessness with which you charmed me?” He gripped her wrist tightly as she tried to swing away from him. “After all, it was not so very long ago that you said ‘I love you more than life itself, Jack’…”
“If I said that, I lied! I don’t love you!” she panted under her breath, trying to pull away. “I hate you! I wish I had never met you!”
This very public row between Jack and Rosie results in a flurry of gossip. The nobility were, of course, the celebrities of their day and their antics were widely reported in the newspapers. Jack, with the added notoriety of having been a Jacobite rebel, would attract additional press attention. He’d definitely have been trending on Twitter!
So, just for fun, I wondered what the gossip columns, the day after the party, might look like …
The Georgian Gossipmonger, July 27th 1746
My sources tell me that, at the engagement party last night of Sir Clive Sheridan and Miss Rosie Delacourt, guests were treated to the entertaining spectacle of a blazing row! This was conducted in the middle of the dance floor … between the blushing bride-to-be and this columnist’s favourite rebel lord, Jack Lindsey, Earl of St Anton. And all in spite of the fact that Jack is rumoured to be having a passionate fling with Lady Bella Cavendish (herself no stranger to scandal)!
Sir Peregrine Pomeroy, Jack’s best friend (aged 28), was on his way to an appointment with his boot-maker, when I caught up with him. “Devilish fine chap, Jack. Very popular with the ladies. Miss Delacourt? Oh, undoubtedly a diamond of the first water! Who would have thought that the wilds of Derbyshire could harbour such beauty? Must pay a visit there myself someday. Have I heard the rumours about Jack and Lady Bella? A man would have to be deaf and blind not to have done so! And who could blame Jack, if it is true? Wouldn’t mind keeping cully with Lady Bella myself! I say, that blue you are wearing is just the colour I need for a new waistcoat!”
Sir Clive Sheridan, Rosie’s betrothed (aged 30), spoke to me as he was leaving a gaming house at 4 am. “Nonsense! Miss Delacourt is very happy to be marrying me. St Anton is a traitor who should have hanged for his part in the rebellion. If the silly chit … well, what I mean is … if Miss Delacourt did once have feelings for St Anton, well that is all in the past. I am glad of this opportunity, however, to publicly deny these allegations about my financial circumstances. What man does not have the occasional bet on the dice, or the cards, or even the horses? And as for those ridiculous stories about my visits to a certain house of ill-repute …”
Harry Delacourt, Rosie’s brother (aged 12), refused to speak to me as he walked his dog in the park. “I can’t talk about this. It’s private … a family matter. Yes, of course I know Jack. He is the best of good fellows. Now if you’ll excuse me. Beau! Beau! Where is that dratted dog?”
Lady Bella Cavendish, rumoured to be Jack’s latest love interest (aged ‘no lady would ever reveal such a thing!’), invited me into her opulent boudoir for cakes and hot chocolate. “Jack? Oh, is he not beyond doubt the most handsome and exciting man you have ever seen? Those spell-binding blue eyes … that devil-may-care air … those strong thighs. Sorry, where was I? But of course we are just friends, my dear, nothing more … I have no idea how these rumours started …”
Lady Alberta Harpenden and Lady Aurelia Drummond, Sir Clive’s aunts (aged ‘indeterminate’), were just arriving home from a morning visit when I managed a quick chat with them. “Oh, dear me, I was never so shocked in all my life … indeed, I said to my sister, did I not Alberta? … that when Lord St Anton came to London … because, as you know, he was a rebel and wanted for treason … I vow and declare, I wondered if he might wear a kilt … and be, well, terribly Scottish … but such a personable man and hearts will break … of that I am sure … but my nephew, you know, has a little distance in his manner … and, of course, the debts …”
“Aurelia, do pray let us stop dawdling on the pavement and step inside!”
So it seems, gossip lovers, that we are no closer to knowing the truth! But one thing is for sure, as well as being quite swoon-makingly handsome and utterly charming, Jack Lindsey certainly gives good value for money when it comes to gossip!