Molly by M.C. Beaton Read Free Book Online

Book: Molly by M.C. Beaton Read Free Book Online
Authors: M.C. Beaton
arm, Molly marched to the threshold and then turned and looked back to where Lord David stood smoldering behind his desk.
    “I shall find out where your parentslive,” grated Lord David, “and make sure that for your impertinence you both get the spanking you richly deserve.”
    The elder girl’s eyes raked over him with contempt, from his shabby flannels to his venerable blazer and open-necked shirt.
    “Aw! Stuff it, your lordship,” said Miss Molly Maguire.
    The door banged behind her with such force that the whole house shook.

    The Maguire sisters sat bolt upright in Lady Fanny’s open brougham. They could not in fact do anything else, since their new corsets had them strapped into a rigid position. Both were dressed in blonde lace tea gowns, Molly’s threaded with scarlet ribbon and Mary’s with blue. Both wore large picture hats embellished with fruit and roses. Their glossy hair had been put up for the first time.
    The girls had just completed their first social engagement, a garden party at the rectory, which Lady Fanny had felt would not be too demanding for their first occasion. Lady Fanny had developed a headache at the last moment so the girls had been sent on their own with a list of instructions. They were to confine their conversation to yes and no. Mary was not to slurp her tea or get crumbs on her dress. If pressed, they might converse about the weather. On
no account
must they ever mention that dreadful Maguire’s Leprechaun Dew. Let people assume their family fortune came from some respectable American business like railroads, or “Daddy made a killing on Wall Street.”
    The girls had followed her instructions to the letter. Both were feeling exhausted after the stifling discomfort of new clothes and new corsets. It
been pleasant, however, to receive the attentions of various young men. But now both longed to get home and change into something more comfortable.
    With their parasols held at exactly the correct angle, they clopped through the streets of Hadsea, pleasurably aware of the admiring attention of the townspeople.
    They were just on the outskirts of the town, when Molly’s sharp ears picked up the sounds of children crying. She called to the driver to stop. The sounds were coming from a small alley. At the far end a thick-set youth was twisting the arms of two smaller boys—twins, by the look of them—and to Molly’s horror, the tearful smaller children put their hands in their pockets and handed over a penny each to the older boy.
    “This place is
with bullies,” cried Molly. “Coachman. Go and punch that older boy’s head and give those little children their money back!”
    “It’s not my place to interfere, miss,” said the coachman, turning around with an impertinent grin on his face. “Boys will be boys, I allus say.”
    “Ooooh!” cried Molly in a rage. She jumped down from the carriage and marched up the alley.
    “Here, you,” she cried to the older boy. “What do you mean by taking money from these children?”
    The older boy looked at her, found he was the same size, and remarked in a cheeky whine, “Mind yer own business.”
    Molly looked down at the twins, who were regarding her with admiration. “What are your names, my dears?”
    “Please miss, I’m Bobby and that there’s me brother, Jim, and that big bully is Harry Petts. He’s always a-takin’ our pocket money, miss, and ’e says ’e’ll beat us if we tell Mum.”
    Molly turned and faced Harry Petts. “Give them their money back,” she ordered.
    The youth grinned, looked down the alley and noticed that the coachman was going to do nothing about it, and said, “And who’s going to make me?”
    “I am,” said Molly simply. “Put up your dukes.”
    Harry looked at her clenched fists and let out a guffaw. This was great sport. “Come on then,” he laughed, licking his thumb.
    Now, Molly had learned to fight the hard way in the playgrounds of Brooklyn, but for a

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