A Proper Companion
know, have led a very quiet life."
    "A quiet life cannot contain an active, agile
brain," Sir Percy said. "Emily has been invaluable to me in
suggesting story lines, plot twists, characters, dialogue, and
such. Her ideas have quite revitalized my writing. My publisher has
been most pleased with the early chapters." He nodded his thanks to
Miss Townsend, who nodded in return. "Do you think, my dear, that I
might impose so much as to send you the drafts of the later
chapters while you are in London? I would so appreciate your
continued advice."
    "Of course, Sir Percy," Miss Townsend said. "I would
be happy to read them. But I doubt that you really need my
    "I welcome it, nonetheless," Sir Percy said as he
rose to leave. He went to the dowager's side, offering her a chaste
kiss on the cheek. He then turned back to Emily, took her hand, and
brought it to his lips. "I trust we can have a few more visits
together before your departure, my dear?" he asked.
    "Of course, Sir Percy."
    "I shall look forward to it," he crooned.
    As the baronet departed, Robert turned to Miss
Townsend and said in an undertone, "I see my grandmother is not the
only one with doting admirers."
    Emily scowled at him in mock distress.

Chapter 4

The next morning found the dowager's household in a
flurry of activity. The removal to London was to be a major
undertaking, since the dowager insisted on taking with her every
item or person necessary to her comfort. Emily frequently found
herself with one of the dowager's many lists, checking off things
to be done or made or purchased or packed prior to leaving
    Emily had somehow become in charge of the entire
operation, and although the household staff was under the direct
supervision of either Mrs. Dougherty or Barnes, everyone cooperated
without complaint to Emily's requests. Emily found great pleasure
in the kindness shown to her by the dowager's staff, something she
had not always experienced in the other households in which she had
been employed.
    She supposed the staff expected someone in her
position within the household hierarchy to put on airs, to avoid
association with the lower servants completely. Such behavior was
common enough for those staff members with a special exalted
status— like Anatole, the chef, or Tuttle, the dowager's dresser.
Emily, however, found her life was made easier by treating all
members of the staff with the same level of courtesy. She knew that
only by such behavior was she able to rely on their full
cooperation on major undertakings like the removal to London.
    She would have been aghast to know of the specious
rumors circulating belowstairs regarding her background.
    Later that morning, during a rare moment of quiet,
Emily found herself marveling at the good fortune that had brought
her into the dowager's employ. As she sat in the window seat in her
bedroom, a slim volume of poetry propped open on her lap, she gazed
out the window as she pondered all that had happened during the
last few days. Emily was secretly as excited and as nervous as a
schoolgirl about the impending trip to London. She had never been
to the capital, although she remembered clearly all her mother's
stories about her own Season in Town. Her father had frequently
absented himself in Town for weeks, but never spoke about whatever
business took him there. In fact, before her employment had brought
her to Bath, Emily's only taste of Town life was an occasional
shopping trip to Bury St. Edmonds. And so she looked upon the
prospect of a visit to London as something of an adventure into the
Unknown. Although Bath was far from a rural backwater, she knew it
to be a sleepy village as compared to London. The dowager warned
her to expect to participate in the full social whirl of the
Season's activities. This thought sparked a frisson of
    Emily thrust aside this wayward fear as childish and
unwarranted. She was, after all, a paid companion who would likely
melt unnoticed into

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