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Authors: Tracie Peterson

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A Lady of Hidden Intent

BOOK: A Lady of Hidden Intent
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A Lady of Hidden Intent
Copyright © 2008
Tracie Peterson

Cover design by Brand Navigation/Deanna Pierce
Author photo by Mark Dixon
Cover photography by Steve Gardner, PixelWorks Studios, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

Published by Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438

Bethany House Publishers is a division of
Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Printed in the United States of America

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Peterson, Tracie.

A lady of hidden intent / Tracie Peterson.

     p. cm. — (Ladies of liberty)

ISBN 978-0-7642-0472-2 (hardcover : alk. paper) — ISBN 978-0-7642-0146-2 (pbk.) — ISBN 978-0-0762-0473-9 (large-print pbk.) 1. Fathers and daughters—Fiction. 2. False imprisonment—Fiction. 3. British—United States—Fiction. 4. Women dressmakers—Fiction. 5. Philadelphia (Pa.)—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3566.E7717L327      2008
813'.54—dc22

2007035138

To Judy Miller,
my dear friend and occasional partner in crime.

It is such a joy to work with you and to call you friend.

I cherish our friendship and thank God for you.

Books by Tracie Peterson

www.traciepeterson.com

A Slender Thread • What She Left For Me • Where My Heart Belongs

S
ONG OF
A
LASKA

Dawn’s Prelude • Morning’s Refrain

A
LASKAN
Q
UEST
Summer of the Midnight Sun
Under the Northern Lights • Whispers of Winter
Alaskan Quest
(3 in 1)

B
RIDES OF
G
ALLATIN
C
OUNTY
A Promise to Believe In • A Love to Last Forever
A Dream to Call My Own

T
HE
B
ROADMOOR
L
EGACY
*
A Daughter’s Inheritance • An Unexpected Love
A Surrendered Heart

B
ELLS OF
L
OWELL
*
Daughter of the Loom • A Fragile Design • These Tangled Threads
Bells of Lowell
(3 in 1)

L
IGHTS OF
L
OWELL
*
A Tapestry of Hope • A Love Woven True • The Pattern of Her Heart

D
ESERT
R
OSES
Shadows of the Canyon • Across the Years • Beneath a Harvest Sky

H
EIRS OF
M
ONTANA
Land of My Heart • The Coming Storm
To Dream Anew • The Hope Within

L
ADIES OF
L
IBERTY
A Lady of High Regard • A Lady of Hidden Intent
A Lady of Secret Devotion

R
IBBONS OF
S
TEEL
**
Distant Dreams • A Hope Beyond • A Promise for Tomorrow

W
ESTWARD
C
HRONICLES
A Shelter of Hope • Hidden in a Whisper • A Veiled Reflection

Y
UKON
Q
UEST
Treasures of the North • Ashes and Ice • Rivers of Gold

*
with Judith Miller    
**
with Judith Pella

CONTENTS

PROLOGUE

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 20

CHAPTER 21

CHAPTER 22

CHAPTER 23

CHAPTER 24

CHAPTER 25

CHAPTER 26

CHAPTER 27

CHAPTER 28

CHAPTER 29

CHAPTER 30

EPILOGUE

PROLOGUE

Bath, England
December 1850

C
atherine, my dear, I want you to meet Mr. Carter Danby of Pennsylvania in America.” Nelson Newbury raised his voice to be heard above the stringed quartet providing dancing music for his guests. “Mr. Danby, this is my daughter, Catherine Newbury.”

Catherine let her gaze sweep quickly over the dashing stranger before meeting his dark eyes. He wore an evening coat of some value; the cut and the materials were the finest available. His face was clean-shaven and his dark hair groomed to a meticulous point of fashion. He was, as her friend Elizabeth might have proclaimed, “Fit enough for Her Majesty’s court.”

“How do you do, Mr. 1Danby?” She gave a perfunctory curtsy.

“I do quite well, Miss Newbury. Thank you.” He offered a bow and a charming smile that Catherine was sure had melted more than one young woman’s heart. The twinkle in his eyes seemed to promise something more—maybe mischief, maybe understanding. Perhaps he could read her thoughts and knew how unimpressed she really was.

Having been called a handsome young woman since she was twelve, Catherine was used to men vying for her attention. She’d been promised the moon, given her share of silly trinkets, and endured more than one slobbering ninny twice her age begging for her hand in marriage. Perhaps Carter Danby was to be the next in line.

She couldn’t help but smile at the thought. At least he was closer to her own seventeen years. She guessed him to be twenty and five, maybe a year or two younger. He had an assured air about him, however, that suggested he was confident of his position and personage. That alone put him head and shoulders above the rest. Not that he needed help in that department either. He was quite tall.

“Mr. Danby is studying architecture and has come to Bath to visit some of our finer examples,” her father relayed.

Catherine smiled at her father. “I’m glad he could join our Christmas party. It would be quite dreary to spend the holidays looking only at stone and scrolling.”

Mr. Danby chuckled, causing Catherine to once again extend him a glance. He seemed genuinely amused and did not appear to be putting on airs. But then again, he was from America, and what few Americans she had met were quite a mystery to Catherine.

“I assure you I am feeling far from dreary. I find the sights, especially in Bath, to be quite pleasing.” He grinned, seeming to know she would catch his meaning. Yet rather than wait for her response, Danby continued. “I plan to be home before Christmas. In fact, this is my last stop. We travel in two days’ time for Bristol and the ship that will bear us home.”

“That’s wonderful, Mr. Danby. Perhaps you will travel on one of my father’s ships. He has the best fleet of passenger and cargo vessels.”

“So I have been told. But, alas, I am not to enjoy that pleasure.”

“Well, then, my good fellow, you must instead enjoy the pleasures of the evening and the hospitality we can afford you,” her father declared.

Carter Danby eyed Catherine. “I intend to do just that.”

Catherine felt her cheeks grow hot and quickly turned away.

“If you’ll both excuse me, I have other guests to see to.”

She hurried off in the direction of her friend Elizabeth, who happened to be sharing a rather private conversation with another of their acquaintances, Mrs. Witherspoon.

“And that was the reason she could not be seen in good company. No one can be certain as to whether or not the poor soul was with child, but it is, of course, presumed so,” Mrs. Witherspoon said with a tone that suggested grave concern.

“Of course,” Elizabeth said, completely horrified. She looked up at Catherine and held her hand to her throat as if the entire matter were too much. “We were just discussing Lady Overton’s youngest daughter.”

“It appears the conversation is not a pleasant one,” Catherine countered.

“Indeed it is not,” Mrs. Witherspoon said, shaking her head and looking around suspiciously. “It is a sad day indeed when a young lady of good reputation ruins her chances in society by dallying with a man of ill repute.”

“Sad, too, that society will be so judgmental of her actions.”

Mrs. Witherspoon seemed taken aback. “My dear, we all live by the judgment of our society. There is no other mark by which we can base the value of a person’s character than by their actions.”

“Be they perceived or known,” Catherine replied in a mocking voice that she hoped would put the older woman in her place.

To her consternation, however, Mrs. Witherspoon nodded with great enthusiasm.

“To be sure. And that is why we must be very careful that we give no perceived offense. I cannot express enough the importance of that point.”

Catherine then watched as the two women began to smile brightly, as though the sun itself had just burst through the clouds.

She turned and saw Mr. Danby.

“Mrs. Witherspoon, Miss Merriweather, may I present Mr.

Carter Danby of America.”

The women curtsied and bowed their heads momentarily.

Mr. Danby smiled and gave a crisp bow. “Ladies, I am quite delighted.”

“What brings you to Bath, Mr. Danby?” Mrs. Witherspoon asked, her voice taking on a higher pitch in her nervousness.

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