The Woman from Kerry

The Woman from Kerry by Anne Doughty Read Free Book Online

Book: The Woman from Kerry by Anne Doughty Read Free Book Online
Authors: Anne Doughty
well-liked servant. With Captain Pakenham and his friend Captain O’Shea in attendance, as well as the eldest son of the Blennerhassetts, and the handsome young Lord Harrington it was hardly surprising she’d have other thoughts in her mind today.
    An ideal day for a picnic, indeed, but she was glad it was her afternoon off and Sam, rather than herself, had been chosen for the job. Not that there was any problem with Lady Anne when she’d a horse for company. Once on Conor’s back, she became a different person. Easy, relaxed and confident, shewould be agreeable, even highly amusing, so much so visitors who stayed but a short time at Currane Lodge thought the rumours they’d heard about her were flights of fancy, stories that had gained in the telling as they passed from the drawing rooms of one county to those of another.
    Once Lady Anne left the schoolroom, Rose had begun to see these drawing rooms for herself. If Lady Anne called for a scarf or a cloak, to go walking in the gardens, she’d slip into the large, ornate rooms and see little groups of elegantly dressed women settled by the huge fireplace, or standing in the deep embayments of the tall windows. Their heads would be inclined towards each other, their voices subdued, as they shared the latest gossip. It wasn’t hard to imagine how rapidly and freely rumours would spread when women had little to do except entertain each other, drink tea, and dress for dinner.
    The Currane Lodge drawing room was small compared with what she’d seen when the Molyneux ladies went visiting and only a fraction of the size of Martham Park in Cheshire, where she’d had her first experience of an English country house.
    ‘Sure they’re only middling rich,’ Old Thomas declared when the magnificence of other castles, parks and lodges, were discussed in the servant’s hall, together with the idiosyncrasies of their owners, the sources of their wealth and the suitability of their sons for one of the young ladies.
    ‘But sometimes being rich is not the biggest thing. The Molyneux’s are exceedin’ well connected,’ he continued, always pleased to have an attentive audience.
    Thomas was an expert on the aristocracy. Having spent his life driving Sir Capel round London and the Home Counties in his younger days, he had then spent the next twenty years driving him from one Irish estate to another. Thomas never read books, but he read newspapers avidly and he observed. With time on his hands while he was waiting outside the places the family frequented, his eyes were never still. No detail of dress, deportment or behaviour escaped him.
    Once started, he could weave the family connections up and down the generations and add a synopsis of the many families with whom connections had been made by marriage. Although it had taken Rose some time to tease out the main threads, especially when the same Christian names appeared time and time again, it was always perfectly clear to her that Thomas was quite right. The Molyneux might not themselves be related to everyone of importance, but they would almost certainly have a relative who was.
    Sir Capel’s sisters had all married well. Lady Violet, the eldest, was well-known in Dublin circles where she encouraged and supported young poets and playwrights, while her English husbandconducted his affairs at Dublin Castle. Lady Jane, the youngest, had married a wealthy entrepreneur who was now a Cabinet Minister. Their London house in Lord North Street was a popular meeting place for Irish M. Ps. Lady Jane herself was frequently received at Court.
    Lady Caroline’s brothers, Harold and Rainham, had abandoned the small family estates in Cheshire and quietly made fortunes in the Manchester cotton industry. Harold had built Martham Park, in the countryside south of the city. On her only visit to England its scale and splendour had quite overawed Rose, but she’d been assured by Old Thomas that it was nothing compared to Rainham’s mansion in

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