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Authors: Barbara Cartland

The Temptation of Torilla

BOOK: The Temptation of Torilla
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The Temptation of Torilla
Barbara Cartland
Barbara Cartland.Ebooks ltd (2012)

The Marquis of Havingham visits his mother in Harrogate to tell her he intends to marry Lady Beryl Fern, the most acclaimed beauty in the Prince Regent’s circle. His mother is perturbed and worried because she knows her son is not in love. Also in Yorkshire, Torilla, the daughter of a clergyman working in the mining village of Barrowfield, learns from her cousin Lady Beryl that she is to be married. With great difficulty the money is found for Torilla to journey South because she is to be bridesmaid at the wedding. How Torilla and the Marquis encounter each other on their separate journeys, how their meeting alters the lives and conditions of many people and how heartache and misery eventually end in happiness, is told in this 207th book by Barbara Cartland.

The Marquis of Havingham visits his mother in Harrogate to tell her he intends to marry Lady Beryl Fern, the most acclaimed beauty in the Prince Regent’s circle. His mother is perturbed and worried because she knows her son is not in love. Also in Yorkshire, Torilla, the daughter of a clergyman working in the mining village of Barrowfield, learns from her cousin Lady Beryl that she is to be married. With great difficulty the money is found for Torilla to journey South because she is to be bridesmaid at the wedding. How Torilla and the Marquis encounter each other on their separate journeys, how their meeting alters the lives and conditions of many people and how heartache and misery eventually end in happiness, is told in this 207th book by Barbara Cartland.

AUTHOR’S NOTE

It was not until 1842 that the first report by the Children’s Employment Commission awoke the conscience of the country. The descriptions of the conditions in the British coalmines described in this novel are all taken from that report.

Safety devices were slow in being introduced. The John Buddles Air Pump in 1807 was the first, the Davy lamp in 1816, then John Martin’s Air Lock and Fan, which was not in use until 1835.

What struck the moral minded Victorians, even more than the ever-present danger of explosions, was that girls and boys were employed together. Naked to the waist with chains between their legs, the future mothers of Englishmen crawled on all fours down tunnels under the earth drawing gigantic burdens.

Women by the age of thirty were often old and infirm cripples, worn out by the harsh conditions as well as the exhausting regime of bringing up large families on very low incomes. Such labour was often accompanied by debauchery and terrible cruelty.

When, a month after the report, Lord Ashley introduced a Bill to exclude all women and girls from the pits, as well as boys under thirteen, he was acclaimed a national hero.

CHAPTER ONE
1816

The Dowager Marchioness of Havingham picked up a glass of Madeira wine as she said,

“The doctors have forbidden me to touch alcohol, but I must celebrate your arrival, dearest.”

“Have they done you any good, Mama?”

The Marquis, as he asked the question, had a note of anxiety in his voice that did not escape his mother’s ear.

She was used to the lazy, languid tones fashionable amongst the Bucks and Dandies who surrounded the Prince Regent.

She disliked, although she was far too wise to say so, the manner they had of drawling their words and looking at the world from under drooping, supercilious eyelids.

“I think the water – nasty as it is – has helped to relieve the pain,” she replied, “but I find Harrogate very dull and quite frankly, I am longing to return home.”

“Then I have brought you a very good excuse to leave,” the Marquis said.

As his mother looked up at him enquiringly, he rose from the chair on which he had been sitting to stand with his back to the fireplace.

The suite in which the Dowager Marchioness was ensconced in the best and most expensive hotel in Harrogate was quite pleasant, and the Marquis noted that she had brought to the somewhat austere furnishings of the sitting room many touches that were peculiarly her own.

There was both a portrait in oils and a miniature of himself arranged on one of the side-tables and there were many vases of hothouse flowers – he could never imagine his mother without them.

There were soft cushions which decorated the sombre damask chairs, and most important of all there were her two little King Charles spaniels, who had greeted him effusively on his arrival.

“You are quite cosy here,” he said, as if it suddenly struck him that even a hotel could have some points to it.

“Quite,” the Dowager Marchioness replied briefly. “Now Gallen, what have you come to tell me for I am quite certain, my dearest, you have not made this long journey just to see if I am comfortable.”

As she spoke, the Dowager’s eyes rested on her son admiringly.

There was no one, she thought, who could look so handsome, and, while being so exquisitely dressed could yet remain overwhelmingly masculine.

The Marquis’s clothes fitted his broad shoulders and accentuated his narrow hips, but in fact, since he was so athletic, he was the despair of his tailors.

It was not fashionable to have strong, rippling muscles under the superfine whipcord coats.

But the Marquis was noted as an exceptionally fine pugilist in ‘Gentleman Jackson’s Rooms’ in Bond Street, just as with the rapier he found it hard to find anyone good enough to give him a match.

Combined with this he was the outstanding Corinthian among his contemporaries, and the younger Bucks and Blades envied him his expertise with his horses and strove ineffectually to emulate the manner in which he tied his cravats.

And if to the world, or rather the
Beau Monde
, the Marquis appeared indifferent, cynical and autocratic, his mother knew that where she was concerned he could be considerate, kind and occasionally surprisingly affectionate.

She knew therefore that he spoke the truth when he said,

“If I thought you really desired my company, Mama, I would come to Harrogate or anywhere else to please you.”

“You know I would not impose on you to such an extent,” the Dowager Marchioness replied fondly. “But tell me why you have come.”

There was a little pause before the Marquis declared, drawling his words,

“I have decided to get married.”


Gallen
!”

The word was a startled exclamation and now the Dowager Marchioness quickly put down her glass of Madeira in case she should spill it.

She clasped her hands together and, raising her eyes to her son’s face, she asked,

“Do you really mean it? After all these years, you have met someone you really wish to make your wife?”

“I have decided to marry, Mama, because, as you well know, I must have an heir,” the Marquis replied. “I also require a wife who is well-bred and will not bore me to distraction.”

“Whom have you chosen?”

“I have offered for Lady Beryl Fern,” the Marquis answered, “and as I did not wish you to read of the engagement without warning in
The Gazette
, I ordered both Beryl and her father not to breathe a word of our intentions until you had been informed.”

“Lady Beryl Fern,” the Dowager Marchioness said slowly. “But of course I have heard of her.”

“She is undoubtedly the most beautiful girl in England,” the Marquis explained. “She has been acclaimed since she first burst upon the Social World. The Prince himself christened her ‘
The Incomparable
’ before the experts in the Clubs of St. James’s got round to doing so.”

There was an undeniably mocking note in the Marquis’s voice and his mother looked at him sharply before she said,

“What is she like, Gallen?”

Again there was a little pause before the Marquis replied,

“She enjoys gaiety, as I do, and is the life and soul of every party she attends. She will certainly embellish the Reception Rooms at Havingham House and The Castle, besides doing full justice to that Aladdin’s Cave of jewels that you so seldom wear.”

“That is not what I asked you, dearest,” the Dowager Marchioness said in a low voice.

The Marquis walked with the grace that was peculiarly his own from the hearthrug to the window to stand with his back to her looking out at the trees, which so far North were only just showing the green buds of spring.

“What else do you want to know, Mama?” he asked after a moment.

“You know full well what I want to hear,” his mother replied. “Are you in love?”

There was silence until the Marquis replied,

“I am thirty-three, Mama, and I am past the pulsating emotions of a lovesick boy.”

“Then you are only marrying to beget an heir.”

He could hardly hear the words – and yet they had been said.

“I can think of no better reason for taking on a wife,” the Marquis said almost defiantly.

“But I would wish you to fall in love.”

“As I have already said, I am too old for such nonsense.”

“It is not
nonsense
, Gallen. Your father and I were divinely happy together, and I have prayed that you too would know the happiness we found in each other for so many years before he was taken from me.”

“They don’t make girls like you today, Mama.”

The Dowager Marchioness sighed.

“Your father told me that the first moment he saw me at the High Sheriff’s garden party, of all unlikely places. He thought I was enveloped by a white light.”

“Papa told me about that, too,” the Marquis interposed.

“I did not notice him until he was introduced,” his mother went on, her voice very soft as she looked back into the past, “but when he touched my hand something very strange happened.”

Her words seemed to vibrate as she added,

“I fell in love at that instant! I knew he was the man of my dreams, the man I had always believed was somewhere in the world, if I could only find him.”

“You were very lucky, Mama.”

“It was not luck,” the Dowager Marchioness contradicted, “it was fate. Although your father’s parents were trying to arrange an alliance for him with the Duke of Newcastle’s daughter, we knew that nothing mattered except that we should be together for the rest of our lives.”

The Marquis moved a little restlessly.

He had heard all this before and it always disturbed him when his mother spoke of his father.

They had loved each other so deeply, so overwhelmingly, that he thought, looking back on his childhood, that everything had been tinged with the aura of their happiness.

Their only sorrow had been that they only had one child – himself – and because he loved his mother he tried to look after her and protect her after his father died.

She did not have to tell him what being in love as his parents had been could mean – he had seen it with his own eyes. But he knew quite positively that it would never happen to him.

Aloud he said,

“Times have changed, Mama, and love, except where the Prince Regent is concerned, has ceased to be fashionable.”

“Love! You cannot speak of his Royal Highness and love in the same breath,” the Dowager Marchioness said scornfully. “Look at the way he has treated poor Mrs. Fitzherbert – and I have always been convinced that they were really married. As for that stupid, flirtatious Lady Hereford – I cannot bear the woman!”

The Marquis laughed.

“He sets the example for all of us, Mama, so you can hardly expect me to find idyllic love at Carlton House.”

“And so you have decided quite cold-bloodedly to marry Lady Beryl?”

“We shall deal well enough together, Mama,” the Marquis replied. “We talk the same language, we have the same friends and, if after we have been married a little while, we each go our own ways it will be done with circumspection. There will be no scandal and any differences between us will be settled amicably.”

The Dowager Marchioness did not speak.

There was an expression in her eyes of such unhappiness that her son crossed to her side and took one of her hands in his.

“You are not to worry about me, Mama,” he said. “It is everything that I wish and there is no reason why Beryl and I should not produce half-a-dozen robust grandchildren, which I know would give you pleasure.”

The Dowager Marchioness’s thin blue-veined hand, with several of its knuckles inflamed with arthritis, rested in her son’s warm one.

“Your father and I always wanted the best for you, Gallen, but this, as you must be honest enough to admit, is second best.”

“You are still judging my life by yours, Mama,” the Marquis said. “I am content and one cannot ask for more.”

“I can and I do,” his mother replied.

Her fingers tightened on his.

“You are not still – thinking of that – girl who treated you so – badly?’

Her voice sounded hesitant as if she was afraid of offending him, but the Marquis laughed quite unaffectedly.

“No, indeed, Mama. I am not such a ninny as to carry wounds of that sort. I was only a beardless youth at the time, and one’s first love-affair is always overemotional.”

BOOK: The Temptation of Torilla
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