Daphne:The Six Sisters 04

By: Marion Chesney & M.C. Beaton

MISS BAILEY’S GHOST




A Captain bold, in Halifax, who dwelt in country quarters,

Seduced a maid who hang’d herself, one morning, in her garters,

His wicked conscience smited him, he lost his stomach daily,

He took to drinking ratafee, and thought upon Miss Bailey.

Oh, Miss Bailey! unfortunate Miss Bailey.





One night betimes he went to rest, for he had caught a fever,

Says he, ‘I am a handsome man, but I’m a gay deceiver;’

His candle just at twelve o’clock began to burn quite palely,

A ghost stepp’d up to his bed side, and said, ‘Behold Miss Bailey.’

Oh, Miss Bailey! unfortunate Miss Bailey.





‘Avaunt, Miss Bailey,’ then he cried, ‘your face looks white and mealy,’

‘Dear Captain Smith,’ the ghost replied, ‘you’ve used me ungenteelly;

The Crowner’s Quest goes hard with me, because I’ve acted frailly,

And parson Biggs won’t bury me, though I am dead Miss Bailey.’

Oh, Miss Bailey! unfortunate Miss Bailey.





‘Dear Corpse,’ said he, ‘since you and I accounts must once for all close,

I’ve really got a one pound note in my regimental small clothes;

’Twill bribe the sexton for your grave,’ – The ghost then vanished gaily,

Crying, ‘Bless you, wicked Captain Smith, remember poor Miss Bailey.’

Oh, Miss Bailey! unfortunate Miss Bailey.

Anon.





ONE





Lady Godolphin was suffering from a bad conscience. The comfortable travelling carriage bearing herself and young Daphne Armitage bowled smoothly along the summer roads of Berham county.

Daphne had been staying in London with her sister, Annabelle. Although she had just turned eighteen no plans had yet been made to bring her out, her father, the Reverend Charles Armitage, being in funds and therefore, for once, content to let his latest marriageable daughter age slightly before rushing her off to the altar.

But Daphne had met and fallen in love with a very beautiful young man at one of Lady Godolphin’s parties and an engagement seemed in the offing. The man of her choice was Cyril Archer, famed in London society for his youth, beauty, and total lack of brain.

Lady Godolphin now felt uneasily she should have thrown a spoke in that particular wheel.

The elder Armitage girls had all married men, handsome, dashing, virile men, not empty-headed preening coxcombs. Minerva was comfortably wed to Lord Sylvester Comfrey, Annabelle to the Marquess of Brabington and Deirdre to Lord Harry Desire.

It was not as if Daphne had much in her cockloft either, reflected Lady Godolphin sourly. It was just that the vicar would not, she was sure, look on Daphne’s choice with any warmth. Furthermore, Mr Archer was comfortably off, but hardly rich.

And Charles Armitage would no doubt blame her, Lady Godolphin, for having been instrumental in introducing Daphne to Mr Archer.

Lady Godolphin was a distant relative of the Armitages and had been much involved with the three elder girls’ marriages. She was fond of all the Armitage girls, but could not help feeling Daphne had turned out something of a disappointment.

She had no character.

From being a mischievous hoyden she had turned into a dazzling beauty, utterly wrapped up in her own appearance.

A sudden ray of hope shone in Lady Godolphin’s brain.

‘Does young Archer hunt?’ she asked.

Daphne was studying her own reflection in a steel mirror which she had drawn out of her reticule.

‘Oh, no,’ she said vaguely. ‘He detests blood sports.’

‘Lor’!’ said Lady Godolphin gloomily. ‘Well, men are all a lot of follicles, anyways. I’ve given them up myself. I started at Lent and kept on goin’.’

‘Yes?’ said Daphne, adjusting a curl.

‘And paint too.’

‘I had noticed,’ said Daphne with rare animation. Privately she thought Lady Godolphin looked a great deal younger without her customary mask of blanc and rouge.

Lady Godolphin looked like a well-scrubbed bulldog. Her heavy face was creased with worry and her mouth turned down at the corners.

‘Are you not happy that I have found a suitable young man?’ asked Daphne at last, putting away the mirror.

‘Well, I am, and I amn’t. Fact is, he’s a bore. That’s what bothers me.’