An Improper Companion

An Improper Companion by April Kihlstrom Read Free Book Online

Book: An Improper Companion by April Kihlstrom Read Free Book Online
Authors: April Kihlstrom
now. Sir Leslie was young and I could not even hope my marriage would be ended by his early death. I felt that fate had been unfair to me. I could only console myself that my tormentor, Sir Leslie, was no happier than I.
    I had ceased to cry and lay face upward on the bed when someone knocked. “Go away!” I called.
    “Ma’am, it’s your new abigail,” Margaret’s voice replied.
    “I don’t wish an abigail!” I retorted.
    The voice that spoke next surprised me. “It’s Ellen, Miss Wade. I mean, Lady Kinwell.”
    I jumped to my feet and hurried to unbolt the door. Mademoiselle Suzette had promised to aid me, and Ellen I looked upon as a friend. As I opened the door I noticed Margaret regarding me strangely. No doubt she believed me slightly mad. Well, perhaps I was. But could anyone wonder at this?
    I shut and bolted the door behind Ellen, “How? Why?” I asked. “Sit down.”
    “Well,” Ellen began dramatically, “Sir Leslie came into Mademoiselle’s establishment and demanded to speak with her at once. She said to deny her, but he went from one fitting room to another until he found her. Then, well! They went to her office and you could hear his voice all over the place, cutting up stiff over something. Then Mademoiselle called me into her office. Sir Leslie was that angry! I thought he would shout at me. But he was very polite. ‘Did you speak with Miss Wade when she was fitted here?’ he asked.
    “Well! I confess I had forgotten your name. ‘The companion for Sir Leslie,’ Mademoiselle said.
    “Well, then of course I knew who he meant. ‘Well, sir,’ I replied, ‘a little, though of course I know well enough not to tattle.’
    “He glanced at Mademoiselle, but spoke to me. ‘Did Miss Wade speak about her position? Did she seem eager to begin her work?’
    “ ‘I wouldn’t know, sir,’ I said, ‘I didn’t wish to gossip. Only ...’
    “ ‘Only what?’ he cried angrily.
    “ ‘Well, sir, she seemed desperate for any position and fainted once because she had not eaten since the night before. And she had almost no possessions and slept with the seamstresses that night. But she was well bred, sir, one could see that.”
    “Well! My answer only made him angrier. Mademoiselle dismissed me after warning me to keep my tongue between my teeth. Then Sir Leslie left. Well, of course I wondered what had happened. I tried to ask Mademoiselle, but she said to be quiet, to forget you. Well! Imagine my surprise when Sir Leslie came back to see Mademoiselle yesterday and asked to speak with me again. ‘Ellen,’ he said, ‘do you know how to dress hair?’
    “ ‘Yes, sir,’ I said.
    “ ‘How would you like to be my wife’s abigail?’ he asked me. ‘You would be well paid and you already know her. Miss Wade is to marry me tomorrow.’
    “Well! I was that surprised! Me, an abigail? Of course I accepted. And you, Lady Kinwell! So then he said I would have to leave at once. As soon as I said I could, he turned to Mademoiselle and said, ‘I shall take with me the clothes you have ready. The rest you will send as soon as possible.’ “Well! Mademoiselle had said there was a rush order, but I never guessed it was for you. Then he left and she gave me a message for you. She said she believes all will be well now, but to tell you that if you are dreadfully unhappy, to go and talk with her when Sir Leslie brings you to London. It was her notion Sir Leslie should take me as your abigail. Said you’d like someone your own age. And warned me to help you. Well of course I will! But tell me. Are you truly Lady Kinwell? How did it happen?”
    I did not answer for a moment, for I needed time to absorb all that Ellen had told me. And I needed time to determine how to answer her. I was not eager to speak of the shameful thing that had happened. At last I compromised between truth and untruth... “Yes, Ellen, I am truly Sir Leslie’s wife. We were married this afternoon. I ... he felt he had compromised

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