This is, of course, an unedited snippet from the 1st draft of the book and, therefore, it may contain a few errors.
Unfortunately, news of the engagement got out before Edward had a chance to tell his family!!
With all the travelling back and forth into London, dealing with constituency business, reporting back to Lord Davenport and spending time visiting with Frances, Edward had little opportunity to be with his family.
It was precisely a fortnight after he and Frances were betrothed that he was at liberty to visit Emberton Hall. However, when he arrived he seemed the family would be taking tea in the Orangery, but he was wrong. He looked about in the gardens to see them in such a sweltering day, but they were not there either.
A delicate cough from behind him making spin round in surprise. “Begging your pardon, sir, the family await you in the drawing room.”
Edward looked at Henry, the Emberton’s Butler, in bafflement. “What on earth are they doing indoors on such a glorious day as this?”
“I cannot say Sir, but if you would like to follow me…” Henry turned fluidly and marched back towards the house.
Edward had no recourse but to follow him. He wondered why they were all inside. It made no sense to him. He grew concerned and increased his pace; he sped past the Butler and into the house, breaking into a run. When he reached the drawing-room, he burst in on the whole family sitting peacefully and calmly as though awaiting his arrival.
“Is everything well? Is everyone well?” Edward asked breathlessly fearing that one of his family was sick. He looked around the room and saw the window sashes were thrown wide open and beautiful breeze flowed through the open door behind him.
“Sit down Edward,” Richard commanded.
He did his he was told sitting in his usual chair to the left of the fireplace which now stood cold in the heat of summer. “What is it?” Edward observed that his mother twisted her handkerchief tightly in her hands, and action she only performed when she was anxious.
Richard looking at his brother with evident anger in his eyes tossed the newspaper onto the coffee table between them all.
Edward was at a loss to explain what was happening. He reached out and picked up the newspaper. “Has someone of our acquaintance died?” He asked as he scanned the page before him for the obituaries.
No one said a word; they merely waited for Edward to continue casting an eye over the page before him. He was horrified to see his name printed there, announcing his engagement to Frances.
“Oh,” with one syllable Edward announced to the room at large that he realised what was happening.
“Oh?” Richard folded his arms across his chest, “is that all you have to say?”
“I did not expect…” He looked up into the face of his brother and seeing no kindness there, he turned to his mother, his hands splayed and waving the paper in his right. “Mama, I…”
With that one single word from his mother Edward felt as though she had struck him. “I know, I…” He had no words. He had no explanation.
She rounded on him. “You promised Edward. You promised me that should you take a liking to a young lady, that you would come to me to enquire about her reputation in society before, Edward, if all you petitioned for her hand in marriage.” She was so angry with him, she waved her fists as she spoke.
“Yes, I did promise,” he whispered. He was so ashamed of himself. He was so caught up in his infatuation for Frances Davenport that he had not spared one single thought for his mother all the promise he made her. He would not blame her at all if she berated him; he had broken a promise; he was in the wrong.
© 2016 Karen Aminadra