The Lady Who Ran Away – Extended Epilogue

Nanny Anne’s London Residence, Russell Square – October 1810

When the Earl and Countess of Stone arrived in London, they were not at all surprised to see the city shrouded in one of the heaviest and thickest fogs they had ever experienced.

“It was so lovely in Stoneleigh when we left,” said Lady Sarah quietly, glancing out of the window when the carriage they had rented rocked to a halt. The fog was so thick that she could not even see the grand façade of the Lauder house. In fact, she could barely see beyond the edge of the road at all.

“That was several days ago now,” laughed the earl.

“Oh, I am aware of that,” she replied, smiling back at him. “I was simply stating how nice it was in the country compared to how gloomy it always seems to be in the city.”

As she gazed out of the window, Nanny Anne’s butler emerged from the fog with a big smile on his face. Sarah had neither seen the front door open, nor the man make his way down the four stone steps towards them.

“It is as though it must be sliced with a knife,” she whispered, referring to the fog again whilst not wishing to wake the infant sleeping in her arms.

Brandon leant forwards and opened the carriage door carefully and quietly from the inside. Sarah was so relieved when he did that, for the butler would have yanked the door open with such a force he would have certainly woken the baby.

“Welcome back, my lady,” said the butler. He pulled out the folding step from beneath the carriage and helped Sarah step down onto the road.

“Thank you, Timothy,” she said. When he had let go of her free hand, she put a finger to her lips to shush him.

He looked down at the child. “She looks very flushed,” he said quietly. “Does she have a fever?”

“We believe that she is growing her first tooth,” explained the earl, and the butler nodded his understanding.

“I presume that she has been a little…fractious?” suggested the butler, helping Brandon down from the carriage now.

“She has been so for most of the five-day journey!” said Sarah.

“Then you have my sympathy,” said the butler escorting them up the steps.

The house suddenly loomed out of the greyness, and Sarah could see now that the butler had left the front door wide open.

“The fog is seeping into the house!” she declared.

“We will soon shut it out again, my lady,” said the butler. He arranged for two footmen to bring the earl and countess’s luggage into the house. “Is the carriage staying here?” he asked.

“Good lord, no,” said Brandon. “It is going back to Ludgate Hill.”

It was not that they could not afford to pay the rent while the carriage was standing idle in the duchess’s stables, but more that they preferred to be careful with the money they had. Brandon had come from nothing, and he fully appreciated the value of what wealth he now enjoyed.

“Very well, my lord,” said the butler, dismissing the coach driver, who touched his hat with a gloved hand and tapped the horses with his long driving whip. As Timothy closed the front door behind them, they could hear the carriage roll slowly away, even though the sound was muffled by the thick and heavy fog. In fact, all of the usual London sounds were softened by the fog.

The Duchess of Lauder came rushing along the hallway with her arms outstretched. Thinking that she was coming to embrace her, Sarah smiled at her. “Hello, Nan!” she said.

Ignoring her completely, the duchess took the child from her arms, cooing and ahhing at her, and retreated back along the hallway and into the morning room.

The earl and the countess exchanged a look before bursting into laughter.

“Well, it is lovely to see you as well, Your Grace!” said Sarah to her friend’s retreating back. Still, the duchess completely ignored them, leaving Sarah and Brandon to hand their travelling coats to the butler. “I must say that it is a relief now to be with Nan,” she said.

“We must not forget that she was a governess and not a nanny,” said her husband into her ear.

They followed their hostess into the morning room, where they were delighted to see her good friend, Nathaniel Norbert, sitting at the table perusing the newspaper. Nanny Anne had collapsed into a rocking chair next to the fire and was rolling the seat backwards and forwards on the rockers and softly singing a lullaby to the baby.

“My lord, my lady,” said the solicitor, closing the newspaper and standing up to greet them with a bow. “I trust you had a comfortable journey?”

Brandon clasped the man’s hand and pumped it up and down whilst Sarah brushed his cheek ever so lightly with her lips.

“It is good to see you, Nathaniel,” said the earl, before Sarah started to regale the solicitor with tales of their journey.

Nathaniel waited for Brandon to join him at the table before sitting down again, whilst Sarah went to sit in a chair next to the duchess, still telling Nathaniel all about their smooth journey.

“She is beautiful,” said Nanny Anne when Sarah had finished her story, not taking her eyes off the child. “Lovely Little Lady Lavinia,” she cooed whilst the babe opened and closed her mouth in her sleep.

“Lovely Little Lady Lavinia looks as though she might be hungry,” said Sarah, gazing intently at her child before settling down against the cushions and resting her head on the back of the chair. “We will not wake her, however,” she added. “She has been grizzling for most of today already and only fell to sleep once we had left La Belle Sauvage.”

Without looking up from her charge, Nanny Anne said, “The coaching inn is but fifteen or twenty minutes from here.”

“Yes,” agreed Lady Sarah. “That is how long she has been asleep today.”

“Then we will not wake her,” agreed the duchess. “She will wake up when she is ready. Is she teething? Is that why her face is so hot and red?” Sarah nodded.

“Let us hope that it does not turn into whatever is ailing Princess Amelia,” said Nathaniel from the table.

Sarah’s head snapped around as she replied to the solicitor. “We had read that the princess was unwell again. Is she showing no signs of recovery?”

Nathaniel Norbert shook his head sadly. “There is a daily report in the Morning Post,” he said, pointing at the newspaper that was still folded before him on the table. “Court physicians report to her father every morning, but they do not appear to hold out any hope. It is said that the streets where the princess resides have been strewn with straw to try and combat any infection.”

“Princess Amelia has St Anthony’s Fire,” said Nanny Anne, again without lifting her gaze from the baby. “Among other ailments. Lady Lavinia is irritable because she is teething. Do not frighten the young parents so with such stories,” she added with indulgence.

There was a tap at the door, and a housemaid Sarah was not familiar with came slowly into the room, carrying an enormous tray that was stacked with crocks and cakes. Nathaniel folded the newspaper and moved it out of the way so that she could arrange the tea things.

“Thank you, Kitty,” said the solicitor after she had served them all. When she left the room, Nathaniel said, “How is Dora? We were under the impression that you might have brought her with you.”

“She is fine, thank you,” said Sarah. “We parted at Ludgate Hill. She has gone to see Rose and Fanny in Lincoln’s Inn Fields.”

“We gave her the day off,” said Brandon, who kept on touching the newspaper and moving it around as though he were itching to open it and have a look.

“She has settled in with you, then?” said Nanny Anne from her rocking chair.

“She is wonderful, Nan,” said Sarah. “Thank you so much for letting her come to the country with us.”

When Sarah started to sip at her tea, Brandon said, “Is there anything else in the news today, Nathaniel?”

The solicitor swallowed his mouthful of tea and glanced at the newspaper, waving a finger to indicate Brandon open it and take a look for himself. “Apparently, there was a ‘daring robbery’ in the early hours of the morning a few days ago,” he said, struggling to remember the details. “In Piccadilly. Robbed the place and set fire to it, according to the newspaper,” he said.

“Ah, yes,” said Brandon, rustling the paper and folding it back on itself. “Here it is.” He read the words for a few moments. “There was someone inside?” he said.

Nathaniel nodded. “Although I do believe they all escaped alive,” he said. “He is a jeweller, you know. Lived next door to the premises.”

“It is fortunate that they all survived,” said Brandon, scouring the page for more news. “Otherwise, the headline would have been a ‘daring murder’!” His eyes settled on another story. “I see that Miss Fenwick is in town.”

“Yes,” agreed the solicitor. “However, she has not only been here to perform in Fontainebleau.”

“I understand she is a…erm…friend of the duke’s?” said Brandon.

“You do not miss any of the gossip being all the way out in the country, then,” chuckled Nanny Anne.

“The Duke of Howard?” said Sarah, frowning. When her husband nodded, she said, “Who is Miss Fenwick?”

“She is an actress,” said Nathaniel.

“She is playing the part of Nanette in Fontainebleau,” said Brandon. “A comic opera, apparently.” Then he added with a wink, “In Covent Garden.” Covent Garden was a special place in London for the earl and the countess. They had often joked that for one of their secret meetings, they should perhaps go to the theatre. However, the admission prices were a little out of Brandon’s reach in those days, and they had simply not been back following his good fortune.

“But….” said Sarah, looking from Nathaniel to Nanny Anne and back again. “But…is the Duchess of Howard not expecting their first child?”

“Lady Miriam has already been delivered of her child,” said Nanny Anne. Sarah was so surprised that she found she did not know what to say. “There must be something in the air,” continued the duchess. “They have a daughter too.”

Sarah laughed and had to place her hand over her mouth. “Forgive me,” she said. “That was ill-mannered.”

“And yet it is understandable,” said Brandon, who was also smiling.

“Yes,” said Nathaniel. “The duke was so desperate for a son. It seems he will have to wait a little longer for the remainder of his beloved stipend.”

“Surely he is not carrying on with this actress whilst his own wife is at home for her confinement?” said Sarah.

“Lady Miriam is in the country,” said Nanny Anne.

“Her part of the country or his?” said Brandon. “Their seat is in Banbury, is it not?”

“Lady Miriam returned to her own county seat so that her mother could look after her,” said Nanny Anne. “However, I must admit that I will be surprised if she ever comes back to London.”

“We believe that Her Grace is not fond of the city,” said Nathaniel.

“He was also so desperate not to be forced into a marriage with the frightful Lady Miriam,” mused Sarah.

“That is true,” said Nanny Anne. “However, there was one argument his mother finally won.”

“I expect you must see a lot of the duke’s comings and goings, Nathaniel?” said Brandon.

“You would think so,” agreed Nanny Anne. “However, my fiancé apparently rattles around that big old house of his with both of his ears and both of his eyes tightly shut!”

Sarah finished her tea and placed the teacup on its saucer on a low table. Then she said, “Wait…Did you say fiancé?”

Nanny Anne finally looked up and met Nathaniel’s eye with a cheeky smile. “I did indeed,” she said.

Sarah wanted to squeal, but the baby was still sleeping. Instead, she clamped her hands across her mouth and stifled it. When she was certain the moment had passed, she said, “Oh, Nan! That is wonderful news.”

“Congratulations, Nathaniel,” said Brandon, shaking the solicitor by the hand again.

“What will you do with your house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields?” asked Sarah.

“I will keep it on, but as a business premises rather than a residential home, as many others before me have done.”

“He turned down a very good offer to sell the place only last week,” said Nanny Anne.

“Why would you do that, man?” asked Brandon. “Those houses must be worth a fortune.”

“Do not forget the included entertainment courtesy of His Grace next door,” said Nanny Anne.

“They are indeed worth a lot of money,” agreed the solicitor, glancing at the duchess with fondness. “However, I have a firm belief that the properties on Lincoln’s Inn Fields will also appreciate over time. A great deal. What better investment than one I already possess?” He paused whilst Brandon nodded his agreement. Then he continued, “The house is currently worth more to me as a business premises than taking out a lease on one of the other buildings around the square. I can also rent out some of the rooms for offices. Even an entire floor. No, it will bring in more revenue if I continue to own the property myself, and it also means that I will contribute to the household.” He looked at Nanny Anne again. “However, we will live here. This house is the better of the two as far as residences go.”

“And the estate in Scotland,” said Sarah. “Do not forget that.”

“I have yet to even see it,” said Nathaniel, blinking his eyes as he looked from one to the other of them.

I have yet to even see the Scottish estate as well,” said Nanny Anne.

“Perhaps we will go there for our bridal tour,” said Nathaniel.

“Or for part of it,” said Nanny Anne. “I should very much like to go to Italy, to see the floating city.”

“I would suggest that you wait for things to settle down before you go off gallivanting around Europe,” said Brandon.

Nathaniel grimaced. “I am inclined to agree with you, my lord.”

“But what about the duchy?” said Sarah. She looked at Nanny Anne. “Is it not arranged so that only a woman may use the title?”

Nathaniel shrugged. “It matters not. Even if I was entitled to the title, I would not accept it.”

“Nathaniel would rather act as my consort whenever the need arises,” explained Nanny Anne.

“That way, I can also continue to practice the law without prejudice,” said Nathaniel.

“You could do that in any case, my dear,” said Nanny Anne. She addressed Sarah. “However, if he does not wish it, then I will not force it upon him.” When it became clear that they had exhausted another topic of conversation, Nanny Anne said, “When will we see your mother and father, Sarah?”

“Mama said that they will follow us down almost immediately,” said Sarah.

“Then let us plan for a ball or two to take Lady Jane along to,” said the duchess. “Do you think she will like that?”

“Oh yes,” said Sarah. “I believe she found that she quite likes to attend the occasional dance after all, despite being hidden away in the countryside for so long.”

“I think she enjoyed dressing up,” said Brandon. He was running a finger along the newsprint once again. “It says here that the Earl and Countess of Thanet are in town, as well as the Earl and Countess of Guildford. Do either of those host many balls?”

“I am not sure,” said Nanny Anne. “However, I believe that the Dowager Countess Spencer is here as well?” Brandon checked the article and nodded his agreement. “Now, there is apparently a lady who can give Lady Bartlett some stiff competition.”

“Oh, but did not Lady Oakwell also wish that she would one day make such a claim?” said Sarah.

“She did indeed,” said Nanny Anne. “I remember her saying so.”

“And?” said Sarah. “How is she faring?”

“The Oakwells went back to Barnsley,” said Nathaniel.

“We understand that they have two children now,” agreed Nanny Anne.

“That is good news,” said Sarah. “I do think that Lady Elizabeth once feared she may be barren in that department.”

“Well, as far as I know, there is a third child on the way,” said Nanny Anne.

“Good for them!” said Sarah happily.

“I was actually concerned that once you all returned to Warwickshire, your mother would not be dragged away again for many a year to come,” said the duchess.

“That is true,” said Sarah. “However, since our wedding, Mama has even thrown the occasional ball herself.” She turned to Nanny Anne. “She held no less than five garden parties during the summer, each with a dance floor erected on the lawn.”

“She must have taken a shine to the idea following your wedding,” said Nanny Anne.

“Have you set a date for your own wedding, Nathaniel?” asked Brandon.

“My fiancée would like it to be in the new year,” said the solicitor.

“We want to check with Mr Michaels first, though, as Nathaniel would like him to be here if he can.”

“The new year would be good for us as well,” said Sarah, placing a hand on her stomach.

Nanny Anne’s eyes widened with surprise. “You are with child again?” she asked, leaving her mouth hanging open in an unladylike manner.

Sarah met her husband’s twinkling eye, and they both smiled.

“Congratulations to you two too, then,” said Nathaniel, just as the Lovely Little Lady Lavinia started to cry.

THE END


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38 thoughts on “The Lady Who Ran Away – Extended Epilogue”

  1. I did enjoy the book. Although Sarah was not my favorite heroine. She caused too much trouble because she was so selfish. It all ended well.

  2. The book reminded me of too many others and I did not enjoy it as much as I normally do, however, I was entertained.

  3. I liked the story and how Sarah tried to be more independent. She was a trial at times but given the restrictions of her time, who wouldn’t want to have an adventure. Thank goodness she really avoided serious trouble

  4. I enjoyed your book. It was interesting and fun. I love the way
    The truth came out and all ended happily.

  5. I loved the relationship between the main character and her former
    Governess. I also enjoyed the love between the main character and the
    Butler. All that plus the balls and pretty gowns. Thanks for the escape!

  6. I really don’t know what to write about this book it’s very nicely written and I enjoy reading it, but all your books are so beautiful just keep them coming. God bless.

  7. I liked the book very much. I love to read about how things were, and how the so many rules kept the women tied up. Thank God things are different now!

  8. I thought it you painted a perfect mind picture of the era. The relationship between Sarah and the Duchess was on point and made me smile!
    Loved Brandon’s background story and happy ending, but must say had an instant distaste for the character of the Duke.
    Thank you for the Romantic colourful escape.
    👏👏

  9. I very much enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the storyline, it was different to the extent that Sarah went after what she wanted and never gave up. Brandon as well stood up for his beliefs and principles. Sarah was spoiled but a sad fate of females during this time period, and today as well. She managed to overcome her bad choices and make an amazing life for herself.

  10. Love the actual stories, the characters and what they get into. Though there is a tiny bit too much detail about the houses furniture, chandeliers and that kind of thing. Something I personally am not interested in. I skip through that and the book ends up way too short…lol. Otherwise the stories are great reading. Thank you!

    Sandra

  11. I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s absolutely interesting and entertaining from the beginning to the end. The characters are most interesting and the story line is quite inspiring. I definitely recommend reading this amazing book. A wonderful journey with lots of twists and turns throughout. Excellent writing and definitely like the extended epilogue. All comes to a beautiful happy ending.

  12. What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!! Sarah deserved a good old fashioned spanking for her behaviour and was extremely lucky to have met such a Gentleman Butler. The upper classes were so preoccupied with appearances and status they would have sole their souls to the Devil. Thank Goodness for Nan and her no nonsense attitude and guidance. A well told story of the time period thoroughly enjoyed. Reminded me of the series Upstairs Downstairs

  13. I enjoyed the book. I appreciated the extended bit. I always love to read what happened to them next.

  14. I thoroughly enjoyed this book loved all the characters and also extended epilogue very good reading.

  15. Sarah wasn’t my favorite character I still enjoyed the book. It had a good ending

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