Banishment (Daughters of Mannerling 1)

Banishment (Daughters of Mannerling 1) by M. C. Beaton Read Free Book Online

Book: Banishment (Daughters of Mannerling 1) by M. C. Beaton Read Free Book Online
Authors: M. C. Beaton
think it will further any friendship with Viscount Fitzpatrick if we sit here lazily while his aunt does the work that we should be doing.’
    ‘How can we?’ asked Abigail. ‘We know nothing of housework.’
    Isabella rose gracefully to her feet. ‘Then it is time we all found out. I think Mrs Kennedy should instruct
    They looked at her with varying degrees of horror. ‘Why not?’ demanded Isabella. ‘Do we sit here uselessly with the whole day to pass?’
    Her sisters followed her reluctantly indoors and explained to Mrs Kennedy that they would be most grateful if she could introduce them to the arts of housewifery. ‘To be sure I can,’ said the good lady, her round face beaming with pleasure. ‘I am just going to the kitchen to school that new cook of yours in some fancier dishes.’
    At first the girls stood around sulkily, listening to Mrs Kennedy’s lectures on sauces, but when she turned her attention to them and began to instruct them on how to make pastry, they began at first reluctantly to work and then with increasing enthusiasm as pastry was rolled out for tarts. By the time little fruit tarts had been placed tenderly in the oven, they felt they could hardly wait to see the results.
    Joshua Evans, the cook, limped about on his wooden leg and smiled at their enthusiasm and then, at Mrs Kennedy’s invitation, sat down with them at the kitchen table when the tarts were ready, to sample some of them. Isabella was so proud of her efforts that she ran outside to fetch Barry to join the party.
    Lady Beverley opened the door of the kitchen and stood transfixed at the sight of her elegant daughters hob-nobbing with the servants. She then retreated but waited until Mrs Kennedy had left before she summoned the girls to the drawing room and gave them a blistering lecture on the folly of not knowing their place and encouraging familiarity among the servants.
    ‘It is all part of the plan,’ said Jessica. ‘Isabella is to practise flirting with the viscount so that she may learn how to woo this Mr Judd. Besides, Mama, it was rather fun. And we are to go to Perival tomorrow to learn how to make over gowns.’
    ‘Make over gowns!’ Lady Beverley raised her thin white hands in horror. ‘Why?’
    ‘Because the ones we have cannot last forever,’ said Lizzie.
    ‘But if Isabella is to marry Mr Judd, then we will be back at Mannerling and all will be as it was,’ wailed Lady Beverley.
    Are we all mad? wondered Isabella suddenly. But she said aloud, ‘Even if I were to marry this Mr Judd, I could not possibly say to him, “I am moving my whole family back into residence and I want you to return all our jewellery and I want everything to be as it was.” ’
    There was a sad little silence as they all digested this grim fact. Then Lizzie said, ‘Well, in any case, I think we should all go to Perival tomorrow. I enjoy doing things and not sitting idle.’
    ‘How are you to get there?’ demanded Lady Beverley.
    ‘Mrs Kennedy is sending a carriage,’ said Isabella.
    ‘You mean a
,’ pointed out Jessica and they all, with the exception of Isabella, giggled.
    Lady Beverley sighed. ‘That one should have to associate with such people.’
    ‘People like Mrs Kennedy have warmth and kindness, so perhaps that is why such as she appears strange to us,’ said Isabella wrathfully. She swept from the room and banged the door behind her in a most unladylike way.
    ‘Dear me,’ said Lady Beverley, ‘I do hope this Mrs Kennedy is not going to be a lowering influence on the manners of our dear Isabella.’
    ‘Perhaps her manners will need to be lowered enough to chase after a gamester,’ said Lizzie quietly, but no one paid any attention to her.
    Isabella went in search of Barry and found him working in the small vegetable garden at the back of the house. She sat down on an upturned box and surveyed him gravely.
    ‘Where do you come from, Barry?’
    He leaned on his hoe. ‘Do you mean, miss, what

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