Marblestone Mansion, Book 6
Marblestone Mansion, Book 6
"H ow dreadful to have all your luggage stolen, Lady Schaeffer," said the positively gushing dressmaker. As small south London dress shops went, hers had the usual sewing and fitting room in the back, and four rows of bolted material in the front. She prided herself on looking her best, kept her brown hair neatly pinned up and wore a simple, but fashionable brown frock with a small hat to match.
"I assure you my heart is broken. I cannot bear to think of someone else wearing my clothing," said Kate Wagner.
Kate Wagner, of course, was not the real Lady Schaeffer, nor was she truly Kate Wagner. It was just another in a long list of names the duchess used to get what she wanted. Fortunately, Lord and Lady Schaeffer were not due back from their honeymoon in Paris for another week; a detail the shop matron apparently did not know.
"I do not often have someone with your connections come into my shop. How is it you have chosen me?"
Kate ignored the pesky, round woman's propensity to stand too close to her, and moved on down the row of cloth bolts. Considered by many a man as having unmatched beauty, Kate had black hair, from which she had plucked a few gray strands that very morning. Her facial features were well defined, her eyes were blue and her waist was the smallest it had ever been. At length, she put her hand on a bolt of dark blue. "A suit of this, perhaps, with a light blue blouse?"
"Of course." The dressmaker jotted it down on her list and followed as the duchess moved to the last row. "As I was asking, what..."
"It makes perfect sense to come here," she answered. "I suspect you are not as busy as the north London clothiers, and I do need something to wear in a hurry. You understand, do you not?"
The dressmaker beamed. "I do indeed."
Finished with her selections, the duchess went to the door, and then turned back. "I shall need them in three days."
"Three days? But, I..."
"I assure you my husband will be most happy to pay extra. He prefers me to wear clothing...in public." When her comment got the giggle she hoped for, the duchess returned with her sweetest smile, walked out the door, and didn't look back.
She was no longer a duchess either, a circumstance she intended to set right in the near future. Ex-duchess of Glenartair, Olivia MacGreagor, saw the long black skirt, matching jacket, and fashionable, lace-trimmed white blouse she wore as borrowed and not stolen, which of course they were. After being abducted by her second husband and carried off to Ireland, she was most unkindly deposited on the shores of Scotland with no clothes, save those on her back, and nary a sixpence to her name. Therefore, she needed positively everything, and if 'borrowing' a few things and pretending to be someone else was the only way to supply her needs, she could and most definitely would do it.
On her way home, she stopped at a newsstand and purchased the latest paper. She saw newspapers as the key to her future and when she read of Lord Schaeffer's marriage and intended honeymoon destination a few days ago, she knew it was the golden opportunity she had waited for. His bride was Lady Louise Kensington, a woman so ordinary in appearance, few would remember her face, even after her picture was printed in the paper. That Louise Kensington managed to marry wealth was incomprehensible, but the duchess learned long ago that there was no explaining the desires of men.
All over London's south end, she passed herself off as Lady Louise Schaeffer, bought clothes, her favorite perfume, luggage, shoes, and even an umbrella. Signing a name that was not hers came natural to the duchess too, considering she changed names as often as she changed husbands.
Her birth name was Gormelia, which she hated almost as much as she hated her first husband, George Graham. She wa