Joselyn, Lady Maddox, had resisted her cousin’s machinations for years, had helped feed the village through the troubled times when the men were away fighting Napoleon and harvests were poor, and had faced down a gang of smugglers.
“But I have never had afternoon tea with a duchess,” she informed the large raven who sat on the window ledge, watching her flutter from one place to another in her anxious preparations. She aligned the cups on the tea table, plumped the cushions on the couch, moved the plate of delicate cakes a little to the right, dusted a spot on the mantlepiece with her handkerchief, and swapped two of the cushions over for a more pleasing colour combination.
The raven made a derisory remark in Raven. “That is easy for you to say,” Joselyn scolded. “She is Felix’s godmother, bird. And I want her to like me.”
“I am already predisposed to do so, my dear,” said Eleanor Haverford, from the doorway. Behind her, the butler was gesturing helplessly. Her Grace had simply swept ahead of him, and what was a butler to do?
“Your Grace.” Joselyn curtsied, trying hard to ignore the blush she could feel heating her face and her chest. “Please. Come in. May I offer you a seat?”
The duchess took her by the hand, and she rose from her curtsey to be engulfed in a perfumed embrace. “You have made my godson a very happy man, my dear Lady Maddox — or may I call you Joselyn? A cup of tea would be lovely, and I would very much like to meet your raven.”
Jocelyn is the heroine of The Raven’s Lady, a short story in my collection Hand-Turned Tales. Hand-Turned Tales is free as an ebook — click on the name to see what other stories are in the book and to find links for download.