Married To A Marquess(3)

By: Joyce Alec

There was not usually much to write about, except the state of the gardens or the visits she had been blessed with, but still, Alice always managed to fill a page or so with her news. Never once did they mention Lord Worthington nor his absence, although in the times her parents had visited her home, there was always concern written all over her mother’s face.

Only once had her mother spoken to her of her regret in allowing Alice’s father to push for the marriage, promising her daughter that she had not had the slightest inkling that the marquess would treat her so. Even her father had grunted that it was not seemly for a husband to leave his wife alone for so long. It had been a balm to Alice’s wounded heart, even if it did not quite cover the shame of being a forgotten wife.

However, she had finished this letter with a request, which was noticeably different from the other occasions on which she had written to her mother. In it, she requested the use of her parents’ London townhouse, arriving sometime next week. She reminded her mother that Lord Worthington had never given her permission to use his properties in town, meaning that she was trapped at Wren Park unless her mother could spare her the use of the townhouse. She then went on to state that the carriage was already being prepared, so that her mother would not have any temptation to write back and refuse.

Alice was more than aware that her mother’s gentle heart would not allow Alice to arrive in London, only to find her parents’ townhouse closed up tightly. It was a little cruel to be manipulating her mother’s affections so, but Alice needed to escape the confines of the estate. Three years was more than enough.

Handing the letter to the butler, a kindly-faced older man who treated her more like a daughter than the lady of the house, she asked for tea to be sent to the library, intending to curl up with a good book. He nodded and smiled before leaving the room.

Sighing to herself, Alice made her way to the library, thinking that at least her husband had shown her a kindness in depositing her in a beautiful home with a full complement of staff. They had become her companions, in many ways, for often Alice would find herself in the kitchen having tea with the housekeeper and, on occasion, the cook.

It was unseemly, of course, for a mistress of her standing never fraternized with their staff, but Alice was quite done with convention for the time being. Principles and propriety were what had driven her into her terrible marriage, so she had decided she was done with all the formalities. If her husband was to abandon her entirely, then he had nothing to say about how she spent her free time.

Not that he cared, however. His actions made that more than apparent. She had not seen him in these long three years, although she had received a note each Christmas wishing her well. She had gone through sadness, despair, anger, and frustration until a plan had slowly begun to form. No longer was she going to be the quiet little mouse that did as she was bid, nor was she going to stand for being left alone to wither away quietly for as many years as her husband chose until he decided to plant a babe in her belly and then, most likely, ride off again. The thought caused her to shiver, knowing that, as his wife, she had very little rights. He could treat her as he wished, and no one, not even her, could say anything against him.

Of course, Alice realized that the only reason she was in this situation was because of her inability to do or say anything about what she felt or thought. It was true, was it not? She had simply obeyed her father and she was fully expected to obey her husband in much the same way. It was what had been expected of her, or, at least, that was what she had thought.

In behaving in such a way, Alice had come to realize that she had become something of a doormat — and look where it had got her. She had agreed to marry a man she had never met only for him to treat her with apparent disdain the very moment their marriage was declared. She had lived at his country estate for three years without him, apparently expected to simply accept her fate with gratitude.

The tea tray at her elbow and her book forgotten, Alice contemplated her future. She had already made a decision that was going to change her future in some way, although she was not quite sure yet as to what would happen. Alice grimaced as she picked up her china cup. She was not about to be stuck here for the next however many years, nor was she going to be the obedient wife that simply waited for her husband to show only the slightest bit of interest. Things were going to change.