No Bride, No Wedding
No Bride, No Wedding
CHAPTER ONE 1876
Calina walked into the small cottage.
Pulling off the black hat that she had worn at the funeral, she sat down at the window and put her hands over her eyes.
She had not cried at her mother's funeral.
But now she was alone she felt that she must burst into tears even though she knew that her mother would have disapproved.
"A lady does not cry in public," she had said to her daughter not once but many times during the years that she was growing up.
Her mother had been very particular that she must never do anything that was unladylike or vulgar.
It was understandable, Calina had always thought, considering the different world that her mother was living in now to the way it had been when she was a little girl of her age.
The funeral had been simple and straightforward as Mrs. Hart was of no particular consequence.
The Parson had gabbled through the prayers and the four bearers had just dropped the coffin into the grave and stood back for the Blessing before it was covered over.
There were a few villagers there besides Calina and she knew that they were thinking it was a blessing that the poor woman should not have gone on suffering as she had this last year.
It was the death of Calina's father in a far off land that had made her mother no longer wish to live.
It was as if she had deliberately given away part of her health every day until finally, three days ago, Calina had gone into her bedroom to call her in the morning.
She thought at first that she was asleep and then she realised that her mother had passed away.
Calina gave a deep sigh and knelt down by the bed.
'How could you leave me, Mama?' she wanted to scream out. 'How could you just go away and leave me all alone?'
But she then realised that she might have expected it, simply because her mother could not live without her father.
The love they had for each other was so intense that for the moment she felt that, ever since her father had died, he had been calling her mother from wherever he was now to urge her to come to him.
It was strange, Calina thought, that her mother had been so blissfully happy in an entirely different world to the one she had been brought up in.
'If I put it into a book,' she had thought more than once, 'no one would believe it.'
It was, in fact, a fascinating story and Calina often went over it in her mind at night.
Just recently she had felt as if it was being acted out in front of her, that she was watching her mother's life and her own on the stage.
Lady Carol Wood was the only daughter of the fifth Earl of Hurstwood, who was one of the more distinguished and respected members of The House of Lords.
The Earl considered himself of great consequence and was desperately disappointed that he did not have a son.
He was therefore most determined that his daughter should make a brilliant marriage and his son-in-law would compensate for him not having a son of his own.
Lady Carol was an exceedingly pretty girl and was growing more beautiful year by year.
"When she 'comes out' she will be the belle of the Season," her father was told by almost every one of his friends who met her.
It made him even more determined than ever that Lady Carol would make an illustrious marriage.
She was born on Christmas Day and had delighted her parents as they had been married for some time before they had a child.
Her father was in the Diplomatic world.
After his appointments as the British Ambassador in various countries, he had then settled down in London and became the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
He had not married until he was getting on for forty and this was one of the reasons why he did not have a large family. As it was, three years passed before his wife gave him a daughter.