Just the beginning

Every now and then, an idea pops into my head—a scene or a bit of dialogue. I don't have any plans for it at the moment, but it keeps nagging at me until I have to write it down. This is one such scene. It may some day turn into a book, but where the story goes from here, I have no idea.

 

Lady Wilcoxin peered at her niece nervously. “You do see that the best thing will be for you to marry Mr. Burgundy.”

Mary Neville frowned slightly at her needlework. She carefully undid the stitch she had just put in and laid it a thread closer to the previous stitch. She nodded at it in satisfaction.

It was only then that she raised her head and turned to her aunt. “No,” she said.

“No?” Lady Wilcoxin’s voice began to rise. “What do you mean, no?”

“I mean I will not marry Mr. Burgundy.” Mary took a few more stitches.

”You cannot mean that, you foolish girl. Your cousin owes a huge amount of money, but Mr. Burgundy will forgive the debt if you marry him.” 

“Walter incurred the debt. It seems to me that it is up to him to pay it. I don’t see why he should expect me to do so.” Mary frowned at her needlework.

“Be realistic,” her aunt snapped. “If Walter could pay the debt, he would. But he has already sold everything he could.”

“Yes, I know. He sold the pearls my mother left me.”

Lady Wilcoxin heaved an irritated sigh, but before she could speak again, the butler entered. “You wished me to tell you when the carriage was ready, Miss Mary.”

“Yes, thank you, Perkins.”

“Where do you think you are going?” Lady Wilcoxin demanded.

Mary stood up and smoothed out her skirt. “Yesterday was my twenty-first birthday.”

“And we did nothing about it. Is that why you are annoyed? But I have been so worried about Walter’s difficulties…”

“Don’t fret about it. But you may remember that my grandmother left me a legacy, a small estate, that I was to receive once I was twenty-one.”

Lady Wilcoxin’s eyes brightened and she collapsed back into her chair with a smile of relief. “We are saved! How much do you suppose we can sell it for?”

Mary did not smile. “Since Grandmama knew Walter, she tied up the legacy in all sorts of legalities so the neither he nor any man I marry can sell it.”

“But…but then what good is it?”

“I plan to live there.” Mary looked at the needlework she was holding. “I loathe embroidery,” she said, tossing it aside as she left.

 

Detail of a painting by Georg Friedrich Kersting [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

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