Louise Pakeman

 

Rooks of Roseleigh
by Louise Pakeman

"Pass me my salts!" cried middle-aged, mid-Victorian Mrs. Grant, widow of the late Canon Grant.

It was her elder daughter, Harriet's disclosure that she had turned down an offer of marriage from the respectable, but dull, Reverend Thomson that caused her urgent need of a restorative, for Harriet was 25 and could not expect a better, or even another, offer. With another daughter to marry off and a son to educate Mrs. Grant could not afford an unmarried daughter living at home. Least of all one as uncomfortable to live with as Harriet with her independent ways.

Exercising that very independence Harriet has already applied for a position as governess to Sir Simon Dester's twin daughters and it is with mutual relief that mother and daughter part company. The post is not quite as Harriet expected. Firstly Sir Simon keeps his daughters tucked away at his country house, not as she had imagined, with him at his London home. Secondly the twins are identical and have used this along with a long period without proper supervision or control, to get rid of all her predecessors. Harriet, however, values her relative freedom too highly to allow them to succeed with her.

A housekeeper and a groom/odd job man (neither of them very young) appear to run the place between them. While the former, Mrs. Barnes seems pleasant enough there is something about her, that Harriet finds puzzling. But nothing at Roseleigh is quite what it seems she finds, least of all her employer who, far from being the dull middle-aged widower she had visualised is a dynamically attractive man still in his thirties. His manner however she finds abrupt almost to the point of rudeness.