This is how I began my morning. First, I slipped on my mourning ring. It was made of a cabochon onyx that covered almost my entire finger. The band was a thin band of gold to secure the stone. No scrollwork. Then, I settled in Uncle’s study to go over my book of accounts.
I’ve kept everything the same. He liked large, substantial furniture and this desk almost dwarfed me. I am a small woman, something that helped in my former career. The mahogany wood of the desk was kept clean and clear except for the set of leather-bound books of accounts to the side.
My tea was waiting for me. It was served on a silver service with biscuits dipped in sugar. As always, tucked along the side of the teapot was card. Constable was certainly persistent. What would a morning be without one of his calling cards?
Mrs. Cooper placed the note and tea in the same arrangement for me every morning at 8:00 a.m. I had decided after Uncle’s passing to dispense with keeping late hours since there was no reason to do so.
I poured myself a cup of tea, held it to my nose for a moment before settling deeper into the chair behind the desk. Next, I went over the numbers. I knew the number of girls who were currently enrolled at the asylum. I knew the approximate address where they were picked up and the date. I could tell you how much money each patroness donated and when. If there was a particular event that precipitated the donation, it was noted. For instance, mornings after operas seem to be particularly fruitful. Perhaps it was all the jubilation that causes the Quality to think of the less fortunate.
So, the knock on the door at 8:07 a.m. came with the knowledge that something was wrong. Mrs. Cooper has known me since I came to live with Uncle as a child. She knew my quirks. Yet, she opened the door, and before either of us could say anything, a sobbing broke my blessed morning silence.
A bedraggled creature made it across the threshold, passing by Mrs. Cooper to deposit herself in a heap at my feet. I think it was a heap. As she dropped down, she slowly faded out of my line of vision.
*End of Excerpt*
Schoolmistress Louisa Wemberley’s school for wayward girls had just started to find it’s footing when one of her charges is accused of stealing a necklace, putting the entire school at risk. It’s up to Louisa to find the culprit while saving her school at the same time. Succeeding at one, does not necessarily mean succeeding at another.
A 4,392-word historical mystery set in Regency England.