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Authors: Lydia M Sheridan

The Prince in the Tower

BOOK: The Prince in the Tower
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The Prince in the Tower
The Counterfeit Cavalier [4]
Lydia M Sheridan
Lydia M. Sheridan (2012)

In the final volume of The Counterfeit Cavalier, Lady Katherine must join forces with Mr. Dalrymple to save her brother from the gallows.

The Counterfeit Cavalier is a traditional Regency novel in four volumes. (Volume four is 30, 357 words, or approximately 75 pages.)



by Lydia M. Sheridan


Amazon Edition

Copyright 2012 by Lydia M. Sheridan

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.



The Counterfeit Cavalier, Volume Four:

The Prince in the Tower


Lydia M. Sheridan



  The door slammed against the wall.

“Daylight in the swamp!” shrieked one merry voice.

“Stand and deliver!” shouted the other.

The door slammed shut.  Two pairs of footsteps raced each other down the hall.  There was a pause, then far below two muffled thuds as Meg and Simon slid down the banister to the entry hall.

Purely as reflex, Kate mumbled,
“How many times have I told you not to slide down the banister?” before she slid back to sleep.  It could have been minutes or hours later when she awoke to brilliant autumn sunshine streaming into her eyes.   Outside her window, trees blazed crimson and gold, their leaves fluttering gaily in the autumn breeze.  With a wince and a groan, she pulled the bedclothes over her face and rolled over, but a lump on the other side of the bed was in her way.

“Go away,” Kate ordered groggily.

“Oh, good, you’re awake.”

“Go away,” Kate pleaded groggily.

Carolyn tossed aside her well-thumbed copy of
The Thespian Mirror
and bounced to her knees.  With the ruthlessness of one who had never been ripped from sleep after two consecutive evenings of being battered, beaten, almost drowned, and unconscious under a corpse, she ripped the covers from her sister’s grasp.  Kate grabbed them and pulled them back over her head.  But Carolyn was strong, determined, and a morning person.  Kate turned her face to her pillow and groaned.

“Leave.  Please.  I implore you,” she begged
, in a futile attempt to hold onto the remnants of sleep before she had to rise and deal with a pounding headache, scratches from head to toe, and bits of gravel imbedded in her palms.  Oh, heavens, and the pistol!  She’d lost the pistol.

This was so extraordinarily bad that Kate was unable, in her distressed state, to comprehend how bad it really was, so she shelved it in the back of her mind until such time as she was able to come to terms with the situation.

“Wasn’t last night wonderful?”  Carolyn fell back on the bed in ecstasy over her first grownup ball, completely oblivious to her sister’s plea.  “I know what you’re thinking, but until you meet Berkly, I mean, Mr. Busby, you shouldn’t judge him.  He dances divinely, and he’s soooo handsome.  Besides, I’m almost sixteen now and Belinda Dogget says--”

s Carolyn chattered on, Kate wondered blearily what her sister was up to now.  To admit she had been so preoccupied the evening before that she had failed to notice Caro’s transgressions, of which she was sure had been many, would seriously dent her reputation for omniscience.

Kate took a stab
in the dark.  “Does Aunt Alice know about this?” she asked, her voice muffled by the pillow.

, I was hoping you’d talk to her first--”

“If you’re afraid to bring this Buskey Burpy--”

“Berkly Busby!”

“--home t
o meet your family, especially Aunt Alice, then he is certainly not the man for you.”  Kate was, unfortunately, growing wider awake by the second.  “And if you would please tell me why in heaven’s name every woman in this family wants to immolate herself on the altar of marriage with some jackanapes I would be eternally grateful.”

Caro bounced angrily.  Kate stifled a moan. 

“He’s not a jackanapes!  And he’s not a pious prig like Adam Weilmunster, either.  Besides, I don’t want to marry him.”  Caro rolled her eyes at Kate’s obtuseness.  “Mr. Busby knows someone who has a friend whose cousin manages an acting troupe.  They travel all over the country, playing at all the best theatres, of course.  He said they said they might have room for a new ingénue and he said he’d recommend me!”

Kate opened one eye.  Carolyn had both hands pressed to her heart.  Her eyes were raised to the sunshine streaming in the window, the smile on her face lit from within.  She would undoubtedly, Kate decided, ma
ke a very good actress indeed.  A ray of sunlight stabbed her eye and she quickly buried her head in her pillow once more.


Stunned at her sister’s acquiescence, Carolyn sat, mouth open in shock.  “Really?” she whispered.  In an excess of delighted zeal, she threw herself on Kate, hugging hard.  “Oh, Katie!  I never believed--oh, thank you.  But--but, do you really mean
I can?  I never though you would allow--”

In agony, Kate dragged herself up.  “Yes!  I mean it!
If you leave right now, you may do anything you like!”

In a split second, she realized her mistake.  Caro’s look of horror told her that her face was just as battered as her poor body.  Quickly
, she turned away, but it was too late.

Mother of God,” Carolyn whispered.  “What happened to you?”

thing,” Kate began, then said sharply, “Where are you going?”

“I’m sending for Dr. Dogget.”

“No!”  The word came out more sharply than she’d intended.  “Don’t bother anyone.  It’s just a few bruises.  I’ll be fine after a day in bed.”  But the look on Caro’s face was one of mulish determination, and it occurred to Kate that a project beyond that of running off to join a third rate traveling theatre would be an excellent thing for her sister, so she emitted an artistic groan.  Then she fell back against the pillows, cracking her wrist against the bedside table, and let out a real groan which would have shamed Sarah Siddons herself.

another word, Caro raced out the door.  A few minutes later, just as Kate was drifting back into sleep, she returned with a fat leather valise spilling over with various herbs, salves, draughts, and powders.  She was followed, Kate was grateful to see, by Cook and Curtis, each bearing large cans of steaming water which they dumped into the wooden tub in the dressing room, which was unfortunately not full of dresses or much of anything else.

Cook came over and fussed about, feeling Kate’s brow, the whole time keeping up a running diatribe.

“Well, Miss, are ye going to tell us what happened to ye?”  Kate knew better than to try to answer as Cook rolled right along.  It was the problem of having servants who had known one since babyhood. 

nd don’t ye be a’telling me any taradiddles, because I’ll not believe them.  I’ve known ye all your life, and your father and his father before him.  For all ye be a lady, there’s the wild blood of the Thoreaus running through your veins, Miss, and just like the two o’ them you are.”  Kate unwisely tried to answer, but Cook cut her off.  “Don’t ye be bothering to hide it, Miss, for haven’t I got eyes in me head?”  She nodded briskly.  “Now, then I’ll bring up a spot of pork jelly and ye’ll eat every spoonful, now, like a good girl.  I’ll be cooking ye a nice bit of steak for your supper to build your strength up.  And a little blancmange for dessert,” she said as one holding out the prospect of a great treat. 

Kate smiled weakly and Cook, satisfied, returned to the kitchen, there to pore over her collection of recipes for such delicacies
as would tempt the invalid.

obviously stalling for time, pretended to fuss with the placement of the tub, then removed back to her bedchamber, where Kate watched him adjust the curtains at the precise angle at which the sun would not be allowed to penetrate the bed hangings.  When Caro went into the dressing room to add a tincture of this and a handful of that to the hot water, Kate caught his eye.  They exchanged a Significant Glance. 

“Curtsy,” she whispered, using the childhood nickname which had never yet failed to get her what she desired, “I need to know everything you can find out about that Mr. Dalrymple character.  One moment he’s a dandy, the next he believes himself to be Ivanhoe or
Robin Hood.”  Kate paused for a moment. “He knows.” 

The butler allowed his eyes to open their ve
ry widest in shock.  “Miss – milady -- but when?  How?”  He glared as only an old retainer could get away with.  “Did you go out with informing me, your ladyship?” he ended stiffly.

“Yes, but it happened the other night when I was on the
bridle lay.  I thought I could -- I thought everything would be fine,” she said lamely, then waited for the sermon on How The Late Lord Would Have Said The Same and Been Wrong.  It was a lecture known by heart by all the siblings, due to the frequency it was uttered.

nd he knows your secret, Miss Kate.”  Curtis’ lips tightened, a martial look came over his shoulders.  “I shall need the afternoon off, Miss.”

“If the worst should happen, Curtsy,” she began seriously.  The elderly man gave her a stern look.  The Worst was something they had never allowed themselves to discuss.  “If the worst should ha
ppen,” Kate continued firmly, “Save yourself.  Don’t be feudal.”

He opened his mouth to protest.

“The children will need you and Cook.  If Lucy marries, she might be able to fend off Uncle Richard, but still, they will need you.  Especially Bertie.”

Caro bustled back into the room.  Curtis instantly assumed his best impassive butler expression and raised an eyebrow in a manner which exactly conveyed his understanding of her wishes.  Unfortunately, whether or not he would comply was
rather iffy.  Lately, Kate acknowledged, her family was proving quite recalcitrant.

“Certainly, milady.”  The elderly butler cleared his throat.  “Will there be anything else, miladies?”

Caro gave him a distracted smile.  “No, thank, dear Curtis.  Just show Dr. Dogget up as soon as he arrives, please?”

“Of course, Miss.”  He withdrew just as Meg and Simon skidded down the hallway.  With the finesse of a butler long used to rambunctious children, he skillfully blocked their way into Kate’s room and herded the
m downstairs, instigating a debate on the various permutations of biscuits versus tarts.

Caro helped her sister
bathe, then cleaned her wounds.  By the time Dr. Dogget arrived, Kate’s various contusions had been salved, powdered with basilicum, and bandaged to within an inch of their lives.  The good doctor, long used to such medical calls on the Thoreaus, hid a smile, seconded Caro’s diagnosis of a slight concussion, and prescribed a saline drought and two days in bed.

Caro countered.  “I think a week in bed and cobweb tablets every four hours.”

“I think a day in bed and
pork jelly and
cobwebs,” Kate bargained, but no one paid her a wit’s worth of attention.

Dr. Dogget nodded thoughtfully, holding the packet up to the
light.  “Well, they certainly won’t hurt and might to her a world of good.  But, mind you make her eat that pork jelly.  T’will build up her strength.”

“It will very likely kill me,” Kate put in, quite cross, as would anyone confronted with cobwebs and pork jelly.

Dr. Dogget frowned at his patient.  “Lady Katherine, you’ll do just as you’re told for once, unless you want to succumb to a brain fever.” 

Kate scowled, but she didn’t want a brain fever, so said nothing.

Dr. Dogget pointed his finger.  “Stay in bed.  Let your sisters take care of you.  No excitement.  I assure you concussion is nothing to play with.”  He turned to Caro.  “Now, missie, where did you purchase these tablets?  I might want to get some for my patients.”

Caro jumped
up to lead him to the door.  “At the Captain’s Chemist.  Their quite new, but most effective I believe.”

mazing,” the doctor murmured as went down the stairs.  “What will modern science think of next?”

Carolyn shut the door and came to sit gently on her sister’s bed.  Kate tried to come up with an entertaining, yet believable fib, but the effort was too great.

Carolyn just sat, holding her sister’s hand.  Finally, she spoke.  “What happened, Katie?”

Kate looked firmly into her sister’s face.  “I went for a walk last night and fell.”

“You fell and managed to hit both the front and back of your head.  And your arms and legs and jaw.  And got scratched and muddy with – what in heaven’s name is that in your hair?”  She carefully placed a tumbler of water with several drops of laudanum between Kate’s bandaged palms.

Kate craned her neck to see
her hair in the mirror.  “Erm --”

“Did he ravish you?”

“What!”  Kate did a double-take.  “Who?”  In her frazzled state, she wondered if Caro meant Mr. Dalrymple or the murderer.  Or the murderee.

BOOK: The Prince in the Tower
11.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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