Passion's Song (A Georgian Historical Romance)
the steps of number 5
Albemarle, feeling extremely pleased that Miss St. James had so
easily forgiven him. She was twice the beauty he had remembered. A
few well-placed questions since their first encounter had gleaned
him the information that she was the natural daughter of the earl
of Chessingham, an intimate friend of the Lady Julia Grey, and in a
fair way of becoming an heiress. Here, he told himself, is a woman
who could almost make me look fondly upon the tortures of
matrimony. The very thought of her expected fortune combined with
his was nearly enough to make him consider the deed. When he first
saw her at Ranelagh, he did not have the slightest suspicion she
was so well connected, or he would never have attempted to make off
with her. It had been quite a shock to discover she knew Lord
Hartforde. There was a man he chose not to cross again. He smoothed
his moustache. Then, pulling on his kid gloves, he softly whistled
a tune as he skipped down the steps. He signaled his driver to
follow him and walked off in the direction of Charing Cross
Road.
    Shortly after Mr. Selwynn disappeared around the
corner, Lord Burke arrived to beg Isobel’s forgiveness for his
stupidity in losing hold of her for even a second, and he looked so
abjectly ashamed that she really did forgive him and they parted on
the best of terms.

Chapter 8
     
     
    I
    Not long after the outing at Ranelagh, Lady Julia
arrived at Redruth determined to entice Isobel into going out once
more; this time she had arranged a large party from which she could
not possibly be separated. Julia was shown to the music room, where
she found Isobel so intent on the fortepiano that she did not hear
the servant’s announcement. Julia signaled the footman to go and
stood in the doorway to listen with rapt attention. She had never
heard anything so sad in her life. The notes cried out to her,
slowing, softening, yet never losing a clarity that made her wonder
how anyone could have stood such sorrow except to express it
exactly so.
    “ Who was that?” she asked when
Isobel sat tapping one finger on the sheets of music in front of
her. She jumped at the sound of Julia’s voice and hastily placed a
songbook over the sheaf of papers before turning to smile at her.
Julia sat down next to her. “It was very sad. And
beautiful.”
    “’ Twas nothing.” She shrugged and
played a trill, her fingers moving rapidly over the keys. “Just
something I made up. I’m afraid I’m out of practice. I played
badly.” She gave a disappointed smile.
    “ It was you? I mean,” she said,
when Isobel raised her eyebrows, “was it you who wrote
it?”
    “ The very same.” Julia was silent
and Isobel gave a little half smile. “I had lessons in
America.”
    “ Surely you have lessons here?”
She leaned one arm on the fortepiano and alternately tapped two
keys with the fingers of the other.
    “ The man I want to study with
won’t take on a woman student. He said I played very nicely and he
was sure my husband would be proud to have such an accomplished
wife. It was so unfair!”
    “ Oh, pshaw!” Julia laughed and
played a scale. “Women have music lessons all the time. I had
lessons myself. As you can hear, they were quite a
success.”
    “ You don’t understand.” Isobel
shook her head. “I don’t want to play just the fortepiano; anyone
can do that. I write music, and not only for fortepiano, but for
the orchestra…symphonies! I want to hear my music performed
someday. It will be performed! It’s worse here than it was in
America. An Englishwoman with any ambition beyond having children
might as well be dead!” She banged her hands down on the keys in
frustration.
    “ But, Isobel—”
    “ At least let me fail after I have
tried my best. To fail because I am not permitted to try is a crime
against my soul. I refuse to believe I am inferior! You heard me
play, Julia. Did you think the music inferior? No, you thought it
must have been written by a man. Not even Mr.

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