The Legend of Lyon Redmond

By: Julie Anne Long



And she still didn’t know what kind of trim she wanted.

Did no one see the irony in choosing the same trim as the poor doomed Princess Charlotte, who had married the man she wanted to marry, rather than the man her father preferred her to marry? She had promptly then died horribly in childbirth, casting all of England into mourning.

Olivia wondered how many parents in England used Charlotte as a cautionary tale. See what awaits you if you don’t listen to me?

Olivia was satisfied that she, at long last, had made a sensible choice from the years of suitors. Everyone in her family approved of him.

She peered out the window as the Eversea barouche rolled through the noisy, colorful, lively throngs of the Strand. Pye men and puppeteers and costermongers and pickpockets wove in and out of gorgeously dressed men and women aglow with wealth and flawless breeding. The Strand’s lively dissonance would resonate nicely with her mood and she expected to find it soothing. And she liked Madame Marceau’s shop, she truly did. It was a hushed, feminine paradise. It was just that she’d had so many fittings she’d begun to feel a bit like a calf being measured for chops.

She was to have silk petticoats and fine lawn night rails, traveling dresses and walking dresses and riding habits, gloves both kid and cotton, stockings both silk and woolen, ball gowns in silks and satins in glowing, muted jewel tones, along with fascinators and feathers and furbelows. It was a veritable avalanche of finery, or perhaps a bulwark of finery, she thought dryly, for surely abandoning it would inspire such crippling guilt that Olivia wouldn’t dream of fleeing?

Not only that, but nearly every relative from both sides of her family would be convening upon Pennyroyal Green, Sussex, in May, and there would be not only a wedding, but a ball. “Reinforcements” was what she called these relatives, but not out loud.

She was the last of the Eversea children to be married, and she was going to be the wife of a viscount. Her brothers had all married unusual women, not one of whom possessed a title. Genevieve had married a duke—to the quietly gleeful satisfaction of her father, for they had trumped the Redmonds, who acquired a mere earl by marriage—but she and Falconbridge had wed by special license. Olivia was the family’s last chance for pomp.

And she knew everyone who loved her would exhale only when she was waving merrily good-bye from Landsdowne’s carriage as they went off on their wedding journey.

No one had said as much, of course.

And this was the unspoken source of all the tension.

They had nothing to worry about. Olivia was definitely going to marry him.

The betting books at White’s, of course, had it otherwise.

God, but she was infinitely weary of being a sport for the wager-happy wastrels at White’s. She did not want to be an event.

But if she’d learned anything over the years, wanting something and getting it were not always sequential events. Even for Everseas.

She pressed her head back against the plump seat, which smelled vaguely and soothingly of her father’s tobacco, then gave a start and fished about in her reticule.

“Blast!” Only two shillings were in there, along with her hussif, her tortoiseshell card case, and, of course, a square of linen folded in sixteenths that she always pretended not to see but that traveled with her everywhere.

It had become a personal ritual, her way of tithing, to say a few kind words and drop a few coins into the cups of the beggars who had appeared weeks ago and lingered near Madame Marceau’s shop, and who reappeared no matter how often Madame Marceau tried to shoo them away. They were as intrepid as ants. They knew where to find sustenance, and that was from the affluent women who frequented the modiste.

But Olivia, as usual, always wished she had more to give.

At last “Madame Marceau, Modiste,” a gaudy gilded sign swinging on chains, came into view, Olivia sat up alertly. The Strand was even livelier than usual today, apparently: she could hear a choir, of all things.

She didn’t know the tune, but it was certainly infectious, lilting and lively. Her foot was already tapping before the footman pulled open the door of the carriage, and she was smiling when he handed her down.

A half-dozen men were arrayed before Madame Marceau’s, arms slung about each other, swaying rhythmically, their heads tipped back in full-throated song. Another man seemed to be presiding as a conductor, strutting to and fro before them and holding a sheaf of papers in one hand.

He waved one in the air. “Get yer flash ballad here! Two pence! Be the first to teach your friends the song all of London will be singing for centuries to come!”

This was quite a claim, given that one of London’s other favorite songs was all about Olivia’s brother Colin, and it, like Colin, who had survived the gallows, refused to die.

▶ Also By Julie Anne Long

▶ Last Updated

▶ Hot Read

▶ Recommend

Top Books