Read Lucky Logan Finds Love Online

Authors: Barbara Cartland

Tags: #London (England), #General, #Romance, #Historical, #Platinum Mines and Mining, #Large Type Books, #Fiction

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BOOK: Lucky Logan Finds Love
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For a moment Belinda wanted to question what she was saying.

Then she blushed and said quickly,

“Please may I wash my hands?”

“Course you can, miss, and we’re very up to date. Like the Frenchies, it’s all out of sight.”

She opened a door as she spoke.

Belinda saw there was a washstand on which there was a very pretty china basin and ewer and there was also a profusion of bottles of every sort and description.

She guessed that most of these contained perfume, others doubtless held what Madame Yvonne used on her face.

Lottie poured out some water that was still warm from a brass can into the basin.

Then she found a clean face flannel and Belinda took off her hat and washed her face and hands.

It had been very dusty on the roads and without asking, Lottie brushed down her clothes as well as her hat.

“Thank you,” Belinda said, “and would it be possible for me to have a glass of water to drink?”

“’Course!” Lottie answered, pouring some out from an elaborate crystal jug. “And there’s coffee for you downstairs, or p’raps you’d rather ’ave champagne?”

“Thank you,” Belinda replied, “but I would rather have coffee.”

She went back into the bedroom and put on her hat again.

She was thinking as she did so that she had never seen so many things on a dressing table before. There were not only more bottles of scent, but trinkets of every sort and description.

There was also a stack of newspaper cuttings.

She thought they must be reviews of
Madame
Yvonne’s performances in the theatre, but she recognised, however, that it would be a mistake to ask questions.

Only when she had tidied herself did she say to Lottie, who was moving about the bedroom,

“I think I had better go downstairs now. I have an appointment to keep and I must not be late.”

“I ’opes ’e’s tall, dark, and ’andsome,” Lottie remarked cheekily.

For a moment Belinda did not understand what she insinuated.

Then she replied quickly,

“It is a
business
appointment.”

“Oh, yeah,” Lottie said. “We all ’as them! With looks like yours, you should be ’avin’ a bit of fun.”

She opened the door before she added,

“You never wants to miss a chance, miss, and they don’t always turn up just when we wants ’em.”

Belinda walked out into the corridor.

“Thank you, thank you very much,” she mumbled and hurried down the stairs.

As she did so, she realised that the carpet over them was a vivid red. It matched the curtains that covered the windows on either side of the front door.

Madame
Yvonne, she thought, certainly liked having everything as brilliant as possible. She knew her mother would have thought the house was tawdry and vulgar. She was very glad it was not here that she would have to work as a reader.

She did not want to think about the innuendos Lottie had made.

Jim was waiting for her by the door of the drawing room.

“Feelin’ better now, are you, miss?” he asked. “I’ve brought your coffee as ’is Nibs said, but if you asks me, a drop of fizzy’d make you feel real better.”

He opened the drawing room door as he spoke. As Belinda entered, she saw her stepfather move quickly away from
Madame
Yvonne.

They were standing in front of the fireplace.

She realised that he must have been kissing her and felt for a moment a sense of disgust.

How dare her stepfather kiss a woman like this actress when he was still in mourning for her mother!

Then she remembered how he had told her that he had tried in every way he possibly could to forget her mother, but had failed.

She supposed, therefore, that
Madame
Yvonne was one of the failures.

Yet it did not appear so at the moment.

It was, however, with a great effort at composure that she walked across the room to where her stepfather and
Madame
Yvonne were standing.

As she reached them,
Madame
Yvonne sat down on the sofa, saying,

“Wow. Here she is – and looking even prettier than when she arrived. Are you sure, D’Arcy, that you tell the truth when you say she’s your stepdaughter?”

“Now, would I lie to you?” D’Arcy Rowland asked in his most beguiling voice. “And would I be so foolish as to bring anyone here who could in any way cause you any displeasure?”

“You’d do anything if it suited you,”
Madame
Yvonne replied. “But what are you going to do with this young woman now that you have brought her to London? There is no place for her at the theatre – I can tell you that!”

“She has no wish to go on the stage,” D’Arcy replied quickly. “She has an appointment with a lady who requires a reader and Belinda is proficient in your language and many others besides.”


My
language?”
Madame
Yvonne exclaimed. “We will see about that!”

She turned towards Belinda and spoke with the rapidity characteristic of the French.

She reeled off a dozen questions, asking her where she came from, how old she was and where she was going.

She was obviously testing her to see whether what D’Arcy Rowland had told her was true or false.

Without any hesitation, Belinda replied just as quickly as
Madame
Yvonne had spoken.

She spoke in perfect French with an obvious Parisian accent.

It banished the suspicion from
Madame
Yvonne’s eyes.

When she finished speaking,
Madame
Yvonne clapped her hands.

“Tres bien, Mademoiselle!”
she approved.

She turned to D’Arcy Rowland.

“All right, D’Arcy,” she admitted, “I believe you!”

“And now,” he said with a certain amount of complacency in his voice, “we must leave you. But I will return once I have dropped Belinda off at her destination.”

“You promise that?”
Madame
Yvonne asked.

“I promise!” D’Arcy Roland replied. “And thank you for the champagne.”

He lifted
Madame’s
hand as he spoke and actually kissed it.

Belinda was watching him.


Déjeuner
will be ready when you return,”
Madame
Yvonne murmured, “but don’t be too long. You know I have to be at the theatre by six o’clock.”

“I shall be as quick as I can,” D’Arcy promised.

He would have turned away, but
Madame
Yvonne caught hold of his hand.

“I have missed you,
mon cher,
” she said in a low voice.

Because she felt embarrassed, Belinda walked away towards the door and, as she reached it, her stepfather hurried after her to pull it open.

“Come along,” he said sharply. “You must not be late for your appointment.”

They climbed into the chaise and only as they drove off did D’Arcy Rowland say,

“There was nowhere else I could take you. For, as you well know, we cannot afford to book into a hotel.”

Belinda knew he was trying to apologise and she said quietly,

“It is all right, Step-Papa, I understand.”

“It is something you should not understand!” he growled angrily. “God knows, I do not know which way to turn and everything I do seems to make things worse!”

“Perhaps it will all come right – in the end.”

Even as Belinda spoke she thought it was a forlorn hope, yet somehow she wanted to comfort him.

Of course everything he had done was wrong. Of course he had behaved abominably.

Yet, at the same time, there was something about his frankness and his despair that despite herself touched her heart.

‘I ought to hate him for what he has done to me,’ she mused.

She realised, however, that like the dozens of other women he knew, she was reacting to his charm. He admitted his foolishness and she knew he felt helpless to cope with the situation.

It was not far to Regent’s Park.

As Belinda saw the trees ahead, she was suddenly conscious of the significance of what she was about to do.

If she failed, she might be signing her stepfather’s death warrant.

She herself, as he had predicted, would have to go to the workhouse or starve.

She felt a sudden panic sweep over her.

‘I cannot do it! I am sure I shall make a mess of it and perhaps things will be worse than they are already,’ she thought desperately.

As if he were aware of what she was thinking, D’Arcy Rowland said,

“I think you are very brave, Belinda, and your father would be proud of you. Most girls would be screaming and crying because they were afraid, but you are behaving just as I knew you would.”

“I-I wish that were – true, Step-Papa,” Belinda replied in a low voice.

“It
is
true,” he answered. “I have been watching you and I know that no one and I mean no one would have behaved as marvellously as you have, since I confessed what an intolerable situation I have landed you in.”

He gave a deep sigh.

“It is my fault,
of course
, it is my fault, but I hope one day I will be able to repay you and that is what I am praying I shall be able to do.”

He was speaking with an undoubted sincerity.

Impulsively Belinda put her hand on his arm.

“I am praying so too, Step-Papa. I know Mama will help us and whatever happens we must not give up hope.”

As she spoke, her stepfather tooled his horses through some iron gates.

She knew that they had reached the house where Lady Logan lived.

Belinda was well read.

She was therefore aware that when Nash had designed his magnificent Crescent, it was he who had designated that the Park should be called after the Prince Regent.

She knew, too, that besides the Crescent, which was the finest piece of domestic architecture in London, Nash had designed six houses in the Park itself.

They had been lived in originally by Government Officials and gradually over the years they had been sold into private hands and at least three of them rebuilt.

As her stepfather drew up his Chaise beside the front door, she saw a house that certainly bore the hallmark of Nash himself.

It was surrounded by a garden exquisitely kept and ablaze with colour and there were tall trees on the green lawns.

It all appeared so perfect and might have come out of a picture rather than being there in reality.

There was a portico over the front door that had been opened by a footman.

He was wearing a very different livery, Belinda noticed, from that worn by Jim.

It was quite plain with knee breeches, silk stockings, a white wig and white gloves.

He helped Belinda out of the chaise.

As she walked into the house she turned back.

Her stepfather had not moved from the driving seat, but was waiting.

She had not really understood when he had said,

“Don’t forget that your name is Brown and you have been working for Lady Selby, who will, if necessary, provide you with a reference.”

Belinda did not speak and he went on,

“Her Ladyship was kind enough to send you in her chaise which also carried your trunks, so that if you are engaged you can be ready to move in immediately.”

Belinda had only half-listened to what he was saying.

She had been deep in her thoughts.

Now, as she walked behind the footman across the hall, she felt very small and alone.

She was wondering desperately what she should say when she was interviewed.

A footman opened a door and in a quiet respectful voice, he announced,

“Miss Brown, my Lady.”

The room was very different from the one she had just left and was a traditional drawing room not unlike her mother’s.

She was instinctively aware that everything in it was valuable and it professed a perfection all its own.

A woman in black was seated at the fireside.

Belinda walked towards her, aware that Lady Logan was small with dead-white hair.

As she reached her, Belinda dropped a curtsy.

“Good morning, Miss Brown,” Lady Logan said in a soft pleasant voice. “It is kind of you to come to see me so quickly. Please sit down.”

Belinda sat on the edge of a chair next to Lady Logan’s.

She looked at her and realised that Lady Logan must have been beautiful when she was young. Now her face was lined and her complexion was very pale, as if she were in ill health.

As she waited expectantly, she had the feeling that Lady Logan was finding it hard to see her at all clearly.

“What I have been looking for,” Lady Logan began, “is somebody who can speak languages that are not usually taught in schools. You say in your letter that is what you can do.”

“I know quite a number of different languages, my Lady,” Belinda replied, “and I find it easy to learn new ones very quickly.”

“You look too young to have so much knowledge,” Lady Logan remarked, “but I am sure you have been told that before and it is always annoying to have people saying so.”

Belinda gave a little laugh because it was so true.

“I would like you now to read me a little from a book that my son gave me which is written in Persian. Is that one of the languages you are familiar with?”

Persian was one of the languages that her father had taught her and she remembered his showing her a book he had brought back from Teheran. It had been exquisitely illustrated in the seventeenth century.

Lady Logan handed her the book, and as Belinda took it, she realised it was of the same period.

Gently she turned over the pages one by one.

To her delight, there was a poem that had also been in her father’s book.

He had made her translate it.

It was therefore easy for her to read it slowly in her clear musical voice.

It made every word she spoke sound as romantic as the author had intended.

As she finished, Lady Logan exclaimed,

“That was very clever of you, Miss Brown, but I find it difficult to believe that anybody could translate from a strange language so easily and so well!”

Belinda chuckled.

“I must be honest, my Lady,” she said, “and admit that I have read that poem before. It was in a book belonging to my father. But if you wish to test me, I shall read something else with which I am not familiar.”

BOOK: Lucky Logan Finds Love
10.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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