The Bluestocking

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    The emphatic knock on the door did not disturb the cluttered calm of Sir Charles's sitting room. He did not alter his lounging pose in his chair, legs stretched out in front of him and crossed at the ankles, but he paused briefly in the act of lifting his coffee cup from among the breakfast dishes that littered the dining table. A swift look at the mantelpiece clock was enough to inform him that it would not be anyone of his acquaintance, his close acquaintance, that would be calling at that unfashionably early hour.

    Supremely indifferent to the muffled voices outside his door he sipped his coffee and adjusted the broadsheet for closer inspection.

    The soft scratch on his door earned his valet a severe frown as he entered. "Sir, there is a lady who desires to see you."

    Sir Charles lifted one mobile brow and said deliberately, "I hardly think lady."

    His valet was not given time to answer for a high clear voice cut in behind him. "Yes, you may say so and I don't blame you at all for it must seem very particular to be so disturbed." Sir Charles watched as a woman moved past his abject valet. She was dressed simply in a round dress of lavender and a pelisse of a darker hue, trimmed in the same lavender. Her face was concealed behind a heavy veil but her voice and manner were assured, "Thank you," she said in her firm but gentle way, to the valet holding the door for him, I will ring for you when I wish to leave." Sir Charles lounged back in his chair and thrust his hands into the pockets of his ornate, frogged dressing gown.

    The valet cast Sir Charles a look of pained confusion, but the lady was stripping off her gloves patiently. Sir Charles gave him an infinitesimal nod and the valet cringed out gratefully closing the door with a soft click behind him.

    "Thank you for agreeing to see me Sir Charles," said the visitor ignoring his cynical expression and his studied attitude as he lounged further back in his chair. She lifted her veil revealing a type of woman he had not expected. He hadn't recognised her voice, he did not recognise her face either, but that she was young and gently bred was clear.

    He scanned her with a connoisseur's eye. Her figure was good although she was only of average height. He would not call her plain exactly for she had a fine complexion, a few brunette curls escaping riotously from the bonnet of severe grey but she was not in her first youth, he would have thought her perhaps one or two and twenty. Yet gently bred girls did not pursue gentlemen to their chambers. She surveyed him through a pair of candid hazel eyes.

    "Do not get up," she said pleasantly.

    Sir Charles did not. "You have the advantage." he replied.

    She did not move from her position by the door, yet she betrayed no sign of discomfort that he could discern in fact she seemed remarkably at ease, merely saying reflectively. "I expect I do, for although we have met any number of times I cannot expect that you would remember me at all." Her voice he noted was matter of fact, it did not hold accusation.

    "I must apologise for my errant behaviour," he said, with no note of apology, "I perceive that is why you are come?"

    She looked mildly surprised, "Do ladies do that?" she asked, "Goodness, I hadn't thought it proper, to foist oneself on gentlemen at their chambers merely because they do not recognise you at a party, I must remember that for it might prove to be quite useful."

    "It is not." he said bluntly, "Yet you are here."

    "Oh but it is quite a different matter for I do not CARE that you snub me, in fact I would wish all your family would adopt such commendable action."

    "And so we come to the point of your visit perhaps yet I can only say I am as yet none the wiser to why and who you are."

    -----------End of Part 1----------------

    Part 2

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