Excerpt: Marry in Haste

Excerpt: Marry in Haste

Poor Cal, he’s used to having men jump to his every command. Now he’s discovering sisters — in fact every woman he comes across — are quite a different matter.
As he tells an old army friend:

“Remember that time when I was still wet behind the ears and they gave me that troop to command—most of them from the stews of London and only in the army as an alternative to being locked up in prison for God knows how long.”

“Lord, yes. Thugs and villains to a man. Scum of the earth.”

Cal nodded. “Trying to control my young sisters is harder than that.”

“Harder than commanding that riff-raff?” Galbraith gave a snort of amusement. “Pull the other one, Cal. I’ve seen grown men—hard nuts they were too—shaking in their boots when called up before you for some infraction or other.”

“Yes, but they knew I could have them flogged.”

Galbraith shook his head emphatically. “Don’t remember when you ever resorted to flogging.”

“I did once or twice—extreme circumstances.” Cal stared into his brandy glass. “But you can’t flog girls or even threaten it.”

Galbraith nodded. “Quite right, too.  Delicate creatures, females.”

“And soldiers don’t burst into tears at a—very mild—reprimand, or flounce from the room, or sulk, or look at you with big wounded eyes! Or ignore my—very reasonable—orders and go their own merry way!” 

There was a muffled sound from the chair opposite. Cal narrowed his eyes. “Are you laughing at me, Galbraith?”

His friend pulled a large handkerchief from his pocket, blew noisily into it and said with an unnaturally straight face, “No, no. Wouldn’t dream of it.” 

* * * * *

And here’s a snippet where Cal’s Aunt Agatha shows her great delight in Cal’s choice of bride:

“Now explain to me, Ashendon, if you please, the reason for this disgracefully hasty marriage to a complete and utter nobody! Did you give any consideration to what you owe your name? Obviously not!”

“I beg your pardon?” said Cal, outraged by this description of his wife.

“Apology accepted,” Aunt Agatha said regally, “but you still haven’t explained yourself.”

“My wife,” he began stiffly, “is not a nobody. She is—”

“Oh, pish tosh, of course she is. Nobody has ever heard of her, and those that have know nothing good of her. A governess, Ashendon! Could you find anyone less distinguished? A washerwoman, perhaps, or a milkmaid? Milkmaids have good skin, or so I’ve heard—does she have good skin, at least?”

Cal leashed his temper. “My wife is well educated, well born and—”

“Well born? Nonsense! According to my sources she is a nobody, a spinster long past her prime with neither background nor looks to recommend her.”

“Rubbish!” snapped Cal. “She is the daughter of a baronet—”

“Exactly—not even a member of the nobility!”