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Julian Fellowes's Belgravia Episode 7
A Man of Business
Read by Juliet Stevenson
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Format:Audiobook Download (Unabridged)
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Julian Fellowes’s Belgravia is a story in 11 episodes published week by week in the tradition of Charles Dickens.
Belgravia is the story of a secret. A secret that unravels behind the porticoed doors of London’s grandest postcode. The story behind the secret will be revealed in weekly bite-sized installments complete with twists and turns and cliff-hanger endings.
Set in the 1840s when the upper echelons of society began to rub shoulders with the emerging industrial nouveau riche, Belgravia is peopled by a rich cast of characters. But the story begins on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. At the Duchess of Richmond’s now legendary ball, one family’s life will change forever . . .
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Previously in Belgravia…
Anne and James Trenchard were increasingly worried that the Countess was about to reveal their secret. Not only that, but relations between James and his son were deteriorating rapidly. In order to save the situation, Anne went to confront the Countess, with unexpected results.
As Lady Brockenhurst's carriage pulled up outside the house in Eaton Square, Ellis could barely contain her curiosity. Standing at the window of Mrs. Trenchard's dressing room, her breath fogging the pane, she strained to see the activity in the street below. The Countess, in an elegant plumed hat and carrying a parasol, was leaning forward to give instructions to her coachman. Next to her in the barouche, also protected from the warm sunshine by a delicate fringed parasol, was Lady Maria Grey. She wore a pale blue and white striped skirt, finished with a tight, military-style navy jacket. Her face was framed in a matching blue bonnet edged with cream lace. In short, Maria looked, as she had fully intended, ravishing. They did not climb down onto the pavement. Instead, one of the postilions advanced toward the door and rang the bell.
Ellis knew they had come to collect her mistress, and so she headed for the stairs as quickly as she could manage, carrying everything she'd need. Mrs. Trenchard was already waiting in the hall.
"Will you require me any further this morning, ma'am?" asked the maid, holding up a green pelisse.
"I won't, thank you."
"I expect you're going somewhere nice, ma'am."
"Nice enough." Anne was too taken up with the prospect ahead of her to pay much attention to the question. And she had, after all, managed to conceal her destination from James, so she was hardly likely to give it away to her lady's maid.
Of course Ellis had a good idea where they were going, but she would have liked confirmation. Still, if she was frustrated, she did not show it. "Very good, ma'am. I hope you enjoy yourself."
"Thank you." Anne nodded to the footman, who opened the door. She also had a parasol, just in case. She was quite ready.
Lady Brockenhurst and Maria both smiled as she climbed in. Maria had moved so that she sat with her back to the horses, a real courtesy to someone of inferior rank, and Anne appreciated it. In short, nothing was going to spoil this day. Lady Brockenhurst was not her favorite companion on earth, but they had something in common—neither would deny that—and today they were, in a way, going to celebrate it.
"Are you sure you're quite comfortable, my dear?" Anne nodded. "Then we'll go." The coachman took up the reins and the carriage moved off.
Caroline Brockenhurst had decided to be pleasant with Mrs. Trenchard today. Like Anne, she was looking forward to seeing the young man again, and she found out that her pity for this woman, whose world would soon be, if not completely destroyed, then certainly holed below the waterline. She did not think it would take much longer for the story to come out, after which Edmund's memory would be, if anything, enhanced and Sophia Trenchard's would be ruined. It really was very sad. Even she could see that.
Anne looked at the wall of the gardens of Buckingham Palace as they drove by. How strange it was, the composition of their world. A young woman in her early twenties was at the pinnacle of social ambition; to be in her presence was the very peak that men like James, clever men, talented men, high-achieving men, strove for, as a crowning glory after a lifetime of success, and yet what had she done, this girl? Nothing. Just been born. Anne was not a revolutionary. She had no desire for the country to be overturned. She didn't like republics, and she would be content to curtsy low before the Queen should the chance ever arise, but she could still wonder at the illogic of the system that surrounded her.
"Oh, look. She's in London." Maria's eyes were staring upward. It was true. The Royal Standard was fluttering above the roof of the Palace, at the back of the open courtyard. Anne stared at the huge, columned portico with its glazed porte-cochère designed to shield the royal family as they climbed in and out of their coaches. It was rather public, when you thought about it. But then, they must be used to being objects of curiosity.
The carriage continued down the Mall, and soon Anne was admiring the splendors of Carlton House Terrace, which still impressed her with the novelty and magnificence of its design, even ten years after it was finished.
"I hear that Lord Palmerston has taken number five," said Maria. "Do you know the houses at all?"
"I've never been inside one," said Anne.
- On Sale
- May 19, 2016
- Hachette Audio