The Winthrop Hopkins Female Academy of Lesser Hoo, Yorkshire, has one goal: to train its students in the feminine arts with an eye toward getting them married off. This year, there are five girls of marriageable age. There’s only one problem: the school is in the middle of nowhere, and there are no men. Set in the same English town as Keeping the Castle, and featuring a few of the same characters, here’s the kind of witty tribute to the classic Regency novel that could only come from the pen of Patrice Kindl!
About the Author
In addition to A School for Brides and Keeping the Castle, Patrice Kindl (www.patricekindl.com) is the author of four other novels, the best known of which is the acclaimed Owl in Love. She lives with her husband and a variety of animals in upstate New York.
Read an Excerpt
“MARK MY WORDS. If something drastic is not done, none of us shall ever marry. We are doomed to die old maids, banished to the seat farthest from the fire, served with the toughest cuts of meat and the weakest cups of tea, objects of pity and scorn to all we meet. That shall be our fate, so long as we remain in Lesser Hoo,” said Miss Asquith.
Extravagant as Miss Asquith’s mode of expression was, her fellow scholars at the Winthrop Hopkins Female Academy could not help but feel that she had a point. They nodded in solemn agreement, and Miss Victor, who was only twelve, began to cry.
The other young ladies frowned and attempted to turn and regard Miss Victor with disapproval at her outburst. This was rendered difficult by the fact that all eight were bound to backboards, wooden devices that forced their necks and spines into an erect posture. The backboards required them to rotate their entire upper bodies when they wished merely to turn their heads.
“Oh, I do beg your pardon, Miss Evans,” said Miss Asquith. “I am afraid I struck you with my crosspiece.”
“Not at all,” responded Miss Evans, and then pivoted, mindful of her crosspiece, to regard Miss Victor with some severity. “Control yourself, Miss Victor, and do not wail so when your elders are conversing.”
“Yes, Miss Evans,” said Miss Victor. The backboard prevented her from using her handkerchief, and her tears therefore continued to flow unchecked, albeit in silence.
The young ladies, ranging in age from twelve to nineteen, had planned to while away their daily hour of posture training with a chapter from The Castle of Otranto. However, by a minor mishap, Miss Asquith, who had been reading it out loud, had lost her grip on the novel and it had slipped out of her reach. Although the book remained on her lap, her attempt to recapture it was frustrated by the fact that the backboard pinned her elbows to her waist.
Cautiously, Miss Asquith had leaned forward and read all the way down to the bottom of the right-hand page, arriving at the passage at which the virtuous Isabella attempts to repulse her amorous father-in-law:
“Heaven itself declares against your impious intentions!”
“Heaven nor hell shall impede my designs,” said Manfred, advancing to seize the princess.
Here Miss Asquith halted. She was obliged to leave off at this tantalizing moment, being unable to turn the page. After some moments spent speculating on the events likely to occur after such a fearsome line, they began thus to discuss their future:
“Perhaps one of us should consider marrying Mr. Cruikshank,” mused Miss Asquith. “He reminds me of a dear little leopard frog dressed in green and black. He leaps about so, you know, when he is teaching us to dance. And I believe he is a single man.”
Her fellow scholars erupted into nervous laughter. “Really, Miss Asquith,” said Miss Evans. “I know you speak in jest, but I certainly hope that no one here would so forget what we owe our families as to consider bestowing our hand on a music master.”
“Quite right, Miss Evans,” replied Miss Asquith. “I had much, much rather bestow my hand on Robert the footman.”
Here, several of the ladies erupted into very unladylike shrieks. Unable to cover their mouths with their hands, they struggled to suppress their merriment. Even Miss Evans allowed a brief smile to cross her face. Robert the footman was a very handsome young man.
“Ladies! May I ask what is occasioning such a noise?” Miss Winthrop, one of the founders of the Winthrop Hopkins Academy, had appeared in the doorway of the library, drawn by the sound.
“Good afternoon, Miss Winthrop,” the young women chorused. “Nothing, Miss Winthrop.”
“No doubt Miss Asquith was entertaining you, as usual,” said Miss Winthrop austerely. Miss Asquith’s father owned a distillery; he was therefore obliged to pay a rather larger sum than anyone else to ensure that his daughter be educated with ladies the likes of the Honorable Miss Jane Crump, daughter of a viscount, and the other girls, whose families may not have been particularly distinguished, but who were at least not intimately associated with gin.
“Dear Miss Winthrop, do say that you have come to tell us that our time on the backboards is up,” replied Miss Asquith, smiling in an attempt to draw Miss Winthrop’s attention away from the book teetering on her knees.
“No, indeed, Miss Asquith,” said Miss Winthrop. “On the contrary, you have another half an hour left. Do not sigh, I beg you; I am aware of schools at which young ladies are required to wear a backboard and a metal collar both day and night. I wonder if we are too lax with you; good posture is so important.” Miss Winthrop was quite proud of the backboards, which she had had specially made. As they were much more complicated and uncomfortable to wear than the commoner sort, she considered them vastly improved.
Miss Asquith gave an involuntary shudder at the thought of being permanently tied to a backboard with a metal collar, and as a result The Castle of Otranto slid onto the floor, coming to rest at Miss Winthrop’s feet. That lady bent and picked it up, looking at the title on the spine.
“Reading novels, I see! And such a novel! I do not think this is at all appropriate for young girls. I will fetch my copy of Doctor Barrow’s Sermons. I think you will find it far more spiritually improving than this sort of sensational literature. We must ever keep in mind the impermanence of life and the imminence of the hereafter.”
“Yes, Miss Winthrop,” the girls chorused again, and watched sadly as The Castle of Otranto was borne away.
The Winthrop Hopkins Female Academy had come into being at least partly because Miss Prudence Winthrop, a lady of a certain age in possession of an income that never seemed to stretch quite far enough to suit her needs, had decided that living with her newly married stepsister was less congenial than she had anticipated. Coincidentally, her stepsister and brother-in-law had come to a similar conclusion.
At the breakfast table one morning several weeks after the wedding, the aggrieved bridegroom had taken a stand: “Either she leaves this household or I do,” he said, fixing his bride with a stern eye. His complaint was that his new sister-in-law had pilfered his entire stock of handkerchiefs in order to embroider them with some of the more judgmental verses from the Bible.
“It is all very well for you to find it so amusing,” said he to his wife, who was attempting to maintain her composure at the sight of the newly adorned linens, “but she has grown quite intolerable. She requires an occupation to absorb some of that crusading zeal. Why cannot she nurse lepers or something of the sort? Surely she could go and harass the deserving poor, instead of lecturing me.”
“You know quite well that Miss Winthrop of Crooked Castle could never stoop to consorting with the poor, whether deserving or otherwise,” his wife objected. “However, perhaps something will turn up. . . .”
Happily, word soon arrived that the house of one Miss Eudora Quince, resident of York, had burnt to the ground. Miss Quince, who operated a small academy for young ladies, was cousin to Miss Clara Hopkins, the dear friend of Miss Winthrop. Miss Quince needed a large house with ample grounds for her school, and Miss Hopkins possessed such a house, as well as a desire for an additional source of revenue in order to maintain it. Miss Winthrop descended upon the pair with a great deal of advice and opinions and the offer of a modest investment of money. Within a short time, she had wrested command from Miss Hopkins, whose house it was, and Miss Quince, whose school it had been, and had changed her own residence from the Castle to the school, with the result that at last the newlywed couple was left in peace.
Poor Miss Quince! The name of the new school did not even mention her, for all she was the only one with any experience of instruction or credentials to offer. However, in Miss Winthrop’s opinion, having had the carelessness to allow her house to burn down, she could expect nothing better.
The purpose of the school was the “finishing” of young ladies in preparation for marriage. That is, in addition to the rudiments of a practical education, it offered instruction in the womanly arts necessary to catch a husband. Undisciplined posture was corrected by backboards, undisciplined behavior by etiquette classes. Students danced, gave dramatic readings, wore their fingers to stubs on the pianoforte, drew and painted, netted purses, and decorated lamp shades from dawn till dusk.
Despite the horror with which all decent English people regarded the French—the armies of that madman Napoleon were currently rampaging about the world unchecked—the young ladies also labored to learn how to speak the language of the enemy with a Parisian accent, braid their hair in the French manner, supervise a French chef, and choose French wallpapers and French wines for their dining rooms. The entire Gallic nation might be composed of bloodthirsty, frog-eating barbarians, but one could not deny that they possessed a certain je ne sais quoi.
The students at the school were in some ways a misfortunate lot. Each young lady had lost either one or both parents, and her remaining relatives had not troubled themselves much beyond paying the modest fees demanded by the school in return for assuming her care. Within a few weeks, the students discovered that all had experienced loss, and most had known a solitary childhood, tended by servants and little loved by anybody.
Clearly, marriage was their duty, thereby relieving their guardians of the necessity of bothering about them even to the extent of sending a bank draft for school expenses and dress money four times a year. Unfortunately, so little interest had been taken in their fate that no one seemed to notice they had been sent to acquire a husband in a remote corner of England with almost no eligible young men. The small village of Lesser Hoo had no obvious excuse for existence other than the fact that it always had existed. The inhabitants were yeoman farmers, with a few shopkeepers clustered around the green; hardly anyone for a gentleman’s daughter to marry lived for miles around.
The reality of their situation had not, however, escaped the young ladies themselves. Miss Victor, at age twelve, and Miss Briggs, at age fifteen, were still too young, and studious Miss Franklin had declared herself to be resolved against matrimony. The other five—being of marriageable age and well-disposed toward the wedded state—were beginning to look about themselves and feel a little anxious.
“Miss Mainwaring ought to have married a maharajah whilst she had the chance,” Miss Asquith said. Miss Mainwaring, the niece of Mr. Fredericks at Crooked Castle, had been sent to Yorkshire from India several months earlier, after the death of her parents from cholera. “Imagine! He could have given you ropes of pearls and a ruby diadem for a wedding present.”
“The only maharajah I ever saw was quite elderly and already had five wives,” Miss Mainwaring objected. A pretty girl of sixteen, her eyes and her manner were still shadowed with grief and her own close brush with death.
The Honorable Miss Crump, whose overpowering shyness demanded that she wear both indoors and out an enormous poke bonnet shaped like a funnel, said in her habitual whisper, “Five wives? Surely that can’t be legal.”
“It is if you are a maharajah,” Miss Mainwaring said.
“That is what we shall be reduced to,” said Miss Asquith, returning to her plaint. “We shall have to marry Mr. Godalming, all eight of us.”
Miss Victor burst into tears once again.
“Oh, do hush, Miss Victor!” said Miss Evans. “You need not marry Mr. Godalming if you don’t want to. Now look what you’ve done, Miss Asquith! Poor little Victor is terrified.”
The only unmarried gentleman of fortune in the neighborhood, Mr. Godalming was known to be looking for a wife, and the students of the Winthrop Hopkins Academy were resigned to the idea that one of them would someday become Mrs. Godalming; it was but a question of which one.
“But you see, if we all married him,” persisted Miss Asquith, “we should be able to divide him up among us. Miss Victor, you would only have to spend one-eighth of the day with him.”
“I do think you are unkind about Mr. Godalming,” said Miss Pffolliott. “He’s not so very dreadful, only rather unattractive to look at and inclined to talk about sheep. I don’t mean that I want to marry him,” she added hastily. “But one could do worse.”
“Not much,” said Miss Evans, who would bring twenty thousand pounds and a respected family name to her marriage, and therefore rated her own worth pretty high.
“I agree with Miss Pffolliott,” said Miss Asquith. “One could do worse, and I expect I shall. I have quite given my heart to Robert.”
ROBERT THE FOOTMAN stood in the doorway, beaming with pleasure at having a message to deliver that he knew would be so satisfactory to his hearers. “Miss Quince says that Annie and I are to assist you in taking off your backboards, as she is anxious to have everyone take a walk before the rains move in,” he said.
“Hooray!” cried Miss Asquith. “Robert, Annie, you are angels of mercy. Do get this Procrustean device off me, won’t you?”
“Really, Miss Asquith!” protested Miss Evans. Miss Evans was quite firm about enforcing the rights of seniority, being the eldest student at the school. “I believe I should go before you.”
“Actually, Miss Crump takes precedence, doesn’t she? As the daughter of a viscount, I mean?” Miss Asquith inquired.
Urgent murmurs could be heard from underneath Miss Crump’s massive bonnet, the substance of which appeared to be that she did not wish to be first, and that no one should mind her in the least.
Miss Evans frowned. “Miss Asquith, you know perfectly well . . .” She halted, being unable to claim that a senior student occupied a higher rank than the daughter of a viscount.
Annie looked at Robert, waiting for instructions. As Miss Crump seemed distressed by the attention, he, being a natural gentleman, directed his assistant to set about releasing Miss Evans, who chafed her wrists and elbows gratefully.
“Sorry, Miss,” said Robert to Miss Asquith, who was impatiently dancing about him, causing her near neighbors to remove themselves to a safe distance. “I don’t know what a Procrusty device is, but it’d be easier for Annie to help you, Miss, if you could hold a bit more still.”
Miss Franklin, a young lady with an alarming degree of scholarship, stifled a short bark of scornful laughter.
“Procrustes was a perfectly dreadful ogre,” Miss Asquith explained as Annie attempted to remove the device, “who captured travelers and either stretched them to make them taller or chopped their limbs off to make them shorter, so they would fit in his bed.”
Struck by this bizarre behavior, Robert frowned and paused in untangling the straps of Miss Evans’s discarded backboard. “Is that so, Miss? In his bed, you say?”
“Oh, do hurry, Annie!” Miss Asquith gyrated wildly in her agitation.
“Yes, Miss,” said Annie, struggling to catch hold of the apparatus as it and its wearer whirled by.
“Why do you suppose he would do a thing like that, Miss?” asked Robert, his face wrinkled in puzzlement. “It doesn’t make any sense.”
“Never mind, Robert,” said Miss Evans repressively. “There is no need for you to speculate about Greek mythology.”
“I’ll tell you later,” Miss Asquith murmured and, satisfied, Robert began putting the room to rights and restoring the backboards to their usual cupboard.
Not only Miss Asquith had noticed the charms of Robert the footman. Mrs. Fredericks of nearby Crooked Castle, besides being stepsister to Miss Winthrop, was Miss Mainwaring’s aunt by marriage. As she and her husband had been persuaded to invest in the school—which had the happy result of removing Miss Winthrop from their household—she considered that she had a right to an opinion on its domestic arrangements. She had, in addition, consented to send her niece as a day student. True, she felt a twinge of guilt at thus throwing the poor girl to the lions (in the person of Miss Winthrop). However, she considered it quite probable that her niece would learn something from Miss Quince, and also that the experience would at least serve as a distraction from her troubles.
“Engaging that boy Robert was a mistake, tho’ he is a harmless enough creature,” Mrs. Fredericks said. “Why on earth Miss Hopkins and my stepsister require a footman is quite beyond me. And introducing an ornamental young man like that into a girls’ school, when there are no other suitable objects for their fancy to light upon!”
Footmen were rather an extravagance; the government had levied a special luxury tax on male servants, as if Robert were a bolt of hand-painted silk or a thoroughbred horse. They were generally chosen for a handsome face and a shapely leg, and Robert possessed both. He had been a page at Yellering Hall, petted and made much of by Lady Throstletwist, and taught to read and write by the butler. As a result, he spoke with a much more refined accent than most of the local residents, and in general presented a genteel appearance. Miss Hopkins and Miss Winthrop felt he lent a fine air of distinction to the establishment, which he did, in the sense that wearing a diamond tiara lends distinction to a donkey. He wore (and took great pride in) a fine suit of livery in yellow silk, a powdered wig, and white silk stockings. He looked very elegant and very out of place handing the young ladies into the roomy old black coach that served them as a conveyance.
In short, he was more the sort of servant who should be employed at a nobleman’s seat, not in a school in a remote village in Yorkshire. Between their specially designed backboards and their footman, the ladies considered their school the equal of any in London, or, if not quite that, then at least of any in York.
Luckily, Robert was a naïve young man, ignorant of his own value, having never ventured out of Lesser Hoo since birth. He delighted in his new position, opening and closing doors with a flourish and enthusiastically handing round the fish and fowl at dinner, and he regarded his wages of ten pounds per year as a treasure trove of unimaginable wealth.
As he was the only indoor manservant and the most presentable male for miles around, Robert’s presence had a beneficial effect upon the behavior and personal grooming of the students. His cheerful, smiling face seemed to demand a smile in return, so the young ladies of the Winthrop Hopkins Academy returned his respectful bows and salutations with great cordiality and arranged their dress and their hair with much more care than they might have done at an entirely female institution.
“Could he not be a prince in disguise?” Miss Asquith wondered aloud as they donned cloaks and bonnets for their walk. “Hidden here by his royal parents for fear of schemers and poisoners at court? Perhaps he could rule over a tiny little kingdom on the shores of the Mediterranean, where they have palm trees and the winters are warm and sunny, instead of alternately raining or snowing as in Yorkshire.”
Most of the other girls applauded this happy invention and supposed it quite likely to be true, if only because he was so handsome and agreeable. His one disqualification as the hero of a romantic story was his contentment with his lot.
“He was a foundling,” observed Miss Briggs who, unlike the others, was a local girl, born and brought up in Lesser Hoo. “The vicar found him on his front step in a basket, and he gave the baby to the cook and butler at Yellering Hall to bring up.”
“There! You see?” said Miss Asquith.
Miss Evans, who was sensible and not at all romantic, discouraged this sort of talk. “What I see is that his mother was no better than she ought to have been and his father even worse, for all we know to the contrary. He is lucky to have achieved his position here, given such a disgraceful background. And if you go encouraging anybody here to fall in love with him, Miss Asquith, you will do him no favors. Why, he could be dismissed if any of you begin mooning over him.”
The girls sighed at this unsatisfactory conclusion, but admitted it to be just, so any admiration of Robert had henceforth to be indulged in private, or at least out of hearing of the hard-hearted Miss Evans.
They filed out of the house under the watchful eye of Miss Quince and prepared to enjoy themselves as much as they could on an overcast August day. Neat and tidy in a dove-gray dress and pelisse, Miss Quince led the way, followed by four pairs in an orderly line. Their small company presented a pleasing aspect; none were beautiful, but several were very good-looking, and all were strong and healthy (save perhaps for small, thin Miss Crump, who, shrouded as she was, might have had any sort of appearance).
As usual, Miss Quince sought to combine exercise with instruction, and was quizzing her pupils on the nomenclature of local plant life in French. “Dites-moi, quel est le nom de ces arbres?” she inquired, gesturing at some stunted-looking pine trees.
“Ce sont des pins, Mademoiselle!” responded the entire group in unison.
“Et ces buissons?” Here she thrust her walking stick into a thick mass of bramble bushes.
“Buissons de—” the girls began, but were interrupted by an agitated cry.
“Oh, I say, that hurt!” objected the bramble bushes. “Er, I mean, pardonnez-moi, Mesdames . . . er, pourriez-vous me dire . . . Oh, bother it all! Have I somehow been transported to the Continent? I mean, French! It’s a bit much, on top of everything else!”
The younger ladies hastily removed themselves from the immediate area of the bramble bushes, while Miss Quince stirred them once again with her stick, more gently this time. A white and scratched face, topped by disheveled black hair, peered out through the leafy gap.
“Parlez-vous anglais?” it inquired pitiably.
Miss Quince drew herself up. “Young man, come out of there at once! What do you mean by frightening us like that?”
“Oh, so you do speak English, Madame! Or, er, Mademoiselle? I say, can you see my horse anywhere?”
“I do not see a horse, sir,” said Miss Quince.
The young man uttered some sort of an exclamation that he promptly smothered, as it was undoubtedly profane. “Beg pardon, Madame! Only hope she’s not injured. She’s a fine piece of horseflesh, tho’ a mite high-spirited, and I should hate to lose her.”
“Will you kindly show yourself, sir?” Miss Quince said. “Please, stand up and get out of that bramble bush.” Her earlier fright was making her irritable.
“Well, as a matter of fact, Madame . . . By the by, please allow me to compliment you on your excellent English. One would not know you for a Frenchwoman.”
The pupils of the Winthrop Hopkins Academy giggled. The gentleman in the bramble bush acknowledged them by doffing an imaginary hat and inclining his head. “Mademoiselles,” he murmured.
“I am not a Frenchwoman,” said Miss Quince with decision. “Nor are my pupils. But we are ladies, and as such you have no business sprawling in front of us on the ground in this way. Pray get to your feet.”
“My leg . . . Well, not to put too fine a point on it, Madame, er . . . Madam,” the gentleman said, “I think my leg is pretty well broken in half.” And he fainted.
Miss Briggs, being a local girl, was sent off to fetch a surgeon, while Miss Asquith volunteered to go get Robert and Jim the groom to transport the wounded gentleman to the house. Soon enough, the men appeared with blankets, which they fashioned into a stretcher. Unfortunately, the young man had become entangled with the prickle bush, and he was roused from his merciful stupor as he was torn from its embrace. Miss Quince gathered her charges together and began to herd them away. They obeyed, but not soon enough to avoid hearing a cry of pain as the men jarred his broken leg whilst lifting him onto the blankets. The expected rain began to fall, which further reconciled them to a rapid return to the house.
Not until the young ladies sat down to their simple repast at eight o’clock in the evening did they learn anything more. The surgeon had come and, after a lengthy interval closeted first with the patient and then with the principals of the school, had left. Miss Quince had refused to discuss the situation, but instead produced a great deal of plain mending for them to work on, and proceeded to read A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life to a restless and agitated audience.
“Robert!” Miss Asquith whispered as they at last filed into the dining hall, “How is the young gentleman?”
Robert looked at the older ladies, but they were occupied with finding their own seats, so he whispered back, “As well as can be expected, Miss Asquith. ’Twas a compound fracture, tho’ not a grave one, and he’s suffering from fever.”
“Oh! And what is his name?”
Unfortunately, at this very moment Miss Winthrop turned her basilisk stare upon them. Ducking his head, Robert sidled away and began to fiddle with the dishes on the sideboard.
At last, when everyone was seated, Miss Winthrop said coldly, “Kindly recall that your family has sent you to our school to learn to be a lady, not a kitchen maid, Miss Asquith. And now, you will wish to know the name and condition of our accidental guest. He is a Mr. Arbuthnot from Maidstone, in Kent. We have no doubt he is of a respectable family—certainly his air and appearance are those of a gentleman—but he was too ill to question closely. Mr. Busby insists that we must not move him for the present, and of course we would not dream of it.” Mr. Busby was the surgeon.
From Kent! The young ladies looked at one another. Kent was a world away, farther even than London. What could he be doing, passing through Lesser Hoo in the wilds of Yorkshire?
Miss Hopkins was not as immune to the romance of the situation as her friend. “I believe he was traveling to Scotland for the grouse hunting season,” she announced, unable to retain a dignified silence. “He said something about Lord Pauncefoot. Of Hurley Hall, you know.” She looked around the table with a significant smile and was rewarded by the awed murmur her revelation produced. Even these young girls living so removed from the fashionable world knew of Lord Pauncefoot.
LORD PAUNCEFOOT, THAT stupendously wealthy and hospitable Scottish peer, was well-known for his shooting parties celebrating the Glorious Twelfth of August, the first day of grouse season. As the current date was August second, it seemed reasonable to believe that Mr. Arbuthnot had received one of the much-coveted invitations to Hurley Hall, Lord Pauncefoot’s hunting lodge on the northern moors. Since Lesser Hoo was not precisely on the road from Kent to Scotland—it was not precisely on the road to anywhere—it might be deduced that the young man’s journey had involved a side excursion along the way. And as for the fact that he traveled on horseback instead of in greater comfort in a coach and four on such a long ride, why, a man of spirit, with sufficient leisure to stop frequently to rest his horse, might easily do it, and send his guns and sporting kit ahead of him by mail coach.
The Pauncefoot connection meant that Mr. Arbuthnot was not merely a gentleman, but one of the elect. The Prince Regent and his brother, the Duke of York, regularly visited Hurley Hall, along with a veritable galaxy of the brightest lights of high society.
The ladies, both young and old, regarded one another with a sense of new worlds opening before them. A guest of Lord Pauncefoot, here in Lesser Hoo!
“Mr. Arbuthnot . . . Mister Arbuthnot, from Maidstone, in Kent,” mused Miss Hopkins. “What a pity he comes from so far away—it will be difficult to ascertain details of his family without seeming to be . . . inquisitive. Now, if it had been Lord So-and-So, or even Sir So-and-So, we should know where we were, but Mister—it’s difficult to judge.”
“The great thing,” observed Miss Asquith, “is to prevent him from dying before we can make inquiries.”
While the Misses Hopkins and Winthrop disliked being given advice by Miss Asquith, they had to admit that this was sound. They began to bestir themselves, wondering what potions and tisanes they had in their storeroom that might be efficacious in such an extremity.
“For myself, I always insist upon being bled when I am ill from any cause. I find it soothing—cleansing, you know. Perhaps we ought to call the physician and ask him to bring his lancets and his jar of leeches?” said Miss Hopkins.
“I have heard that in cases of fever it is an excellent practice to douse the patient with very cold water,” offered Miss Winthrop. “Then one must lay great pieces of ice on his body and all round his head.”
“All good ideas, no doubt,” said Miss Quince, “but Mr. Busby, who I am sure is a fine surgeon, said nothing about such measures. And you know, in the event that the young man should die from his fever, perhaps his family will be inclined to blame us for being a little too zealous. My suggestions are rather more moderate. I would recommend some calves’ foot jelly and beef tea, with perhaps a little wine, rather than resorting to such heroic efforts.”
The other two ladies were offended at having their common-sense methods dismissed in this way. Indeed, each had been about to propose some rather more daring and unconventional treatments, imagining themselves at some future date being hailed by his family as an angel of mercy who had snatched their son and heir away from the jaws of death.
“I believe that Mr. Busby has given him laudanum,” pointed out Miss Quince. “It is best to let him sleep. Only think if we were to drown the young man while he was unconscious.”
The Misses Winthrop and Hopkins grumbled a bit, but soon subsided.
Miss Quince said that she would sit beside the young man’s bedside overnight, to cool his brow with wet cloths and administer calves’ foot jelly and beef tea in the event he was able to take it. The offer was immediately accepted, as neither of the other two were prepared to go so far as to lose a night’s sleep over the matter.
What People are Saying About This
PRAISE AND AWARDS FOR KEEPING THE CASTLE:
STAR “Althea’s tongue-in-cheek commentary . . . and her razorlike quips are abundantly entertaining, but it is the heroine’s remarkable ingenuity and compassion for loved ones . . . that make her so endearing.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
STAR “Kindl writes with sharp, effervescent, period-specific language that is so spot-on readers may find themselves adopting a British accent. This witty take on classic Regency romances is frothy fun.”—Booklist, starred review
A Kirkus Reviews Book of the Year
A School Library Journal Best Book of theYear
A Booklist Editors Choice
A Texas TAYSHAS and Lone Star Reading List Selection
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Patrice Kindl never disappoints, and this followup to Keeping the Castle is smart and funny.