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A Governess for the Brooding Duke(3)

By:Bridget Barton





The remaining walls were painted a rather dark and unappealing green colour, a sort of brownish green which, added to the fact that the windows were really rather small, made the whole room seemed cramped and somewhat airless.



“I have asked for some tea to be sent in, Miss Darrington. I realize what a dreadful shock you have had, and I cannot imagine quite how you must be feeling.”



“You are very kind, Mr Wharton. In truth, I cannot say for sure that I shall be able to drink the tea, but I shall try nonetheless.” Georgette realized that she was being incredibly polite and wondered quite where she might need such manners in the future. Would she ever be in good society again?



“It rather feels like the only comfort I can offer you, my dear,” he said and, judging by his expression of sad helplessness, he clearly meant it.



“Mr Wharton, what on earth should I do?” Georgette said, just as the housekeeper bustled into the room carrying a laden tea-tray.



Mr Wharton waited until his housekeeper had set their tea things and left the room before he spoke again.



“In truth, there are very few options for a young lady of breeding who has fallen on hard times. However, you do have an exemplary education and the wit and intelligence to make good use of it.”



“By teaching?” Georgette said. “But surely, to open a dame school, one needs to at least have a house in which to teach the children.”



“I was not talking of setting up a school, my dear. As you quite rightly point out, you shall have no accommodations for such a thing. No, I was rather thinking of your perhaps taking up a position as a governess.” The moment he had finished speaking, the old attorney looked down into his teacup.



“A governess?” Georgette said, unable to hide the mixture of surprise and disappointment in her voice. “I could not possibly become a governess. Really, I could not.”



“But it would be a most suitable method of overcoming your particular struggles at the moment, Miss Darrington. You would be provided with food and board and, assuming you are able to procure the right position in the right household, you would be paid quite reasonably.”



“I had never thought that my life would come to this. I had never for one moment imagined that I would become a governess, a stranger in the home of others, no prospects nor even security. I can hardly bear it, Mr Wharton.” And, finally, Georgette Darrington began to cry. “I am terribly sorry, do forgive me,” she said between sniffs as she drew an immaculate white lace handkerchief from the long sleeve of her gown.



“I realize that this has all come as a terrible shock, and for you to have to make a decision about your future so very quickly is truly appalling, Miss Darrington. But make a decision you must, my dear, because you have so little time. Please believe me that I would not have suggested such a position had I not thought of everything else possible. In truth, there is no respectable job for a lady of genteel upbringing who has suddenly found herself impoverished. No respectable job, that is, except governess. I am rather afraid that so many young ladies turn to the profession because they have found themselves suddenly as you have, in dire financial straits and with no other options. I really am most terribly sorry.”



“Then that is it, is it not? My future is set.” She shook her head in disbelief. She looked at the clock on the wall and could hardly believe that only twenty minutes had passed since first she had heard of her terrible circumstances.



Only that morning, as she had prepared herself to visit her attorney for the reading of her father’s will, Georgette had found herself wondering quite what the future would hold. She knew that she would not miss her father a great deal, even though his passing had saddened her. He had never been a particularly warm man, and since her mother passed when she was but fifteen years, he had taken very little notice of her at all.



But he had provided for her and provided well. He had ensured that she was as well-educated as her mother had always wanted her to be, and she truly wanted for nothing. Whilst she was not an ostentatious young lady, she knew that she had only to ask for a new gown and a dressmaker would be sent for. It was not a thing that she took great advantage of, but it had always been rather a comfort to know that she was well looked after.



If only she had known the truth. If only her father had told her long ago of their troubles, then at least she would have had time to plan. She would not have so easily dismissed out of hand the attentions of many a suitable young man. Had her father been honest with her, Georgette would have realized the importance of being realistic, rather than carefree and most exacting in her wants concerning a husband.

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