Prudence Pursued

Prudence Pursued by Shirley Raye Redmond Read Free Book Online

Book: Prudence Pursued by Shirley Raye Redmond Read Free Book Online
Authors: Shirley Raye Redmond
    “But you like him then?” Margaret probed.
    With eyes suddenly flashing and bosom swelling, Prudence exclaimed, “No, I do not like him in the least! My poor Meg! I understand quite perfectly why you do not wish to be saddled with the man for the rest of your life.”

Chapter Three
    Prudence’s friend Dorothea Greenwood lived in a commodious residence in Sydney Place. She was a widow and the mother of three daughters, one son, and the grandmother of several grandchildren. Mrs. Greenwood was quite old enough to be Prudence’s mother. She was short and thin as a measuring rod, with gnarled fingers and a wealth of wrinkles that she attributed to the deplorable habit of gadding about without her bonnet and parasol when she was much younger. Despite the difference in their ages, the two were close friends, and that is why Prudence decided to seek out her friend the day following Lady Oldenfield’s tea to consult with her about Margaret and Sir James.
    Prudence knew Mrs. Greenwood was the soul of discretion. The woman also had a keen eye for mannerisms and social exchanges. If anyone might have reason to suspect Margaret of meeting someone on the sly, it would be Dorothea Greenwood. Also, as a lifelong resident of Bath, she surely knew much about Sir James and his mother, Lady Eliza Brownell, which perhaps Margaret and her mother were not aware of.
    Greeted warmly by the housekeeper, who recognized Prudence and gave her admittance, Prudence then mounted the steps to the upstairs drawing room. Mrs. Greenwood stood at the top of the landing. “Dear Prudence, come up at once! How delightful to see you again. I have missed you.”
    The two friends embraced briefly. “I have missed you too, Dorothea. But I confess, I treasure your letters. You keep me so well abreast of matters in Bath when I return for a visit, I do not feel as though I have missed out on anything worth mentioning.”
    Mrs. Greenwood chuckled. “What a polite way of calling me an incessant gossip, Pru!”
    “Not at all!” she protested. “You are looking well, and I am happy to see it.”
    “You are in high bloom as well. Surely your visit here is a social one. You have certainly not come to take the waters?”
    Prudence wrinkled her nose. “The waters are foul-tasting, as you must know. After my initial sip some years ago, I have never indulged again.”
    Dorothea tipped her head to the side, smiling. “But they are said to be quite healthful.”
    “I don’t care!” Prudence declared. “My old nurse swore by the medicinal benefits of cod liver oil too—another foul-tasting concoction,” she complained. “I do not understand why strawberries and grapes or apricots cannot serve just as well.”
    Prudence allowed herself to be led to the parlor and checked briefly upon the threshold, when she noticed two other visitors, a man and woman slightly older than herself, already seated within. Dorothea had guests. Prudence felt her heart sink. She knew she would not be able to have the long, private chat she’d hoped for. A closer examination revealed a definite similarity between the gentleman’s countenance and Mrs. Greenwood’s. His face appeared sadly pale and gaunt, despite his thick neck and barrel-shaped chest. He put down the book he’d been holding and heaved himself to his feet. The woman, her head covered with a cluster of artfully arranged brown curls, glanced up from her embroidery. Her lively brown eyes sparkled with welcome and piqued interest in the new arrival.
    “Prudence, I don’t believe you have ever met my son, the Reverend Arthur Greenwood and his wife Eleanor. Permit me to introduce my dear friend, Miss Prudence Pentyre.”
    Pleasantries and handshakes were exchanged. After taking the chair her hostess indicated, Prudence realized the vicar appeared unwell. She noticed too the lines of worry upon Dorothea’s face and the anxious expression in her eyes. “Poor Arthur has recently recovered from a virulent case

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