Prologue

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Nice young ladies, I am often told, don't always appreciate how lucky they are. They are sheltered, cared for, and in many cases married off to men who will appreciate their good breeding and treat them accordingly.

It is not without infrequent prompting that I find myself reminded of this. I do have a good life, and am well aware of just how good it is of Papa to keep the country house Mama loved so much just so that I have a good home. I suppose I could ask Father to make a home for me in the city, but it seems like too much of an effort, and I doubt that he would be happy to have me live with him there. While I respect my honored pater, I am more than old enough to understand the his life in the city is a far cry from what a well bred lady might enjoy.

It is just that, as lovely as the house is, as nice the walks and the enjoyable morning visits with various gentry living in the area are, it is nevertheless a sort of prison.

I should be used to it now, resigned to my fate as an aging miss, firmly on the shelf now as I approach my thirtieth year, but I'm afraid I must admit to feeling a certain lack in my life. There are only a few other unmarried ladies of my age around, and for them at least, a lack of either fortune or appearance is the cause. Mine is not so obvious, though far more dire in nature.

At least I need not earn my keep as a governess or companion, my brothers are fond of reminding me. Father has often assured me that there are sufficient funds set aside for the eventuality of his death, and my brother Harold, Father's heir, has also assured me that I might always have a place in his home, even should he marry. I must admit here in private, however, that the thought of turning this house over to his future wife, however nice and kind she might, lacks a great deal of appeal.

But I mustn't dwell on the bleak; I have a good life, with pleasant acquaintances and a comfortable home. Not everyone has these luxuries, however common they might appear to be. I am, I am reminded, a very lucky young lady.


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