A Night in Grosvenor Square

By: Sarah M. Eden

Sarah M. Eden & Annette Lyon & Heather B. Moore

Bath, 1810

If Adelaide Northrop had to listen to one more ode praising Charity Goddard’s eyes, she was absolutely going to strangle the offending amateur poet with his own overlarge cravat. But when one earned one’s living aiding and abetting the marrying off of the daughters of the ton, one endured a great many painful things, saccharinely sentimental poetry being chief among them.

Thomas Toppits was not nearly so unbearable as most of the young pups who had followed the young Miss Goddard around Bath the last month, and, all things considered, Adelaide was not displeased with Charity’s choice. But neither would she mourn the “opportunity” to hear Mr. Toppits’s self-penned verses now that her latest assignment had come to an end.

The arrival of Mrs. Goddard in the sitting room allowed Adelaide to abandon her post as chaperone and slip into the blessed silence of the corridor. Why was it young suitors always resorted to poetry? She had been instrumental in dozens of matches over the past four years, and nearly every one had, in the end, devolved into poetic nonsense.

This seemed a newer development. Her own courtship nineteen years earlier hadn’t involved a single line of poetry. Then again, she’d not had a suitor to speak of during the decade and a half of her widowhood. It was entirely possible that the gentlemen in her age group employed verse as often as the younger set. Fortunately for her intellectual endurance, she didn’t intend to find out.

She rapped lightly on the door to Mr. Goddard’s study. Upon hearing his instruction to enter, she did precisely that.

“Ah, Mrs. Northrop.” He rose and offered a respectful bow. “You are leaving us today, aren’t you?”

“Your daughter is soon to be married. My services are no longer needed.” She was an expert at these farewell meetings.

“Are you certain you won’t stay for the wedding?” Mr. Goddard’s long jowls flapped with the force of his frown. “It doesn’t seem right that you should miss it.”

But she held firm. If she meant to attend every wedding she brought about, she would spend so much time in churches that she might as well don clerical robes and become a vicar. “I am due in London. I dare not be late for my next undertaking.”

He nodded slowly. “Ah yes. Barrington’s daughter. You’ll need a miracle with that one.”

Adelaide was to finish out the London Season in the company of Lord Barrington’s family and in the course of those six weeks do her utmost to bring about a spectacular match for the baron’s youngest. The spoiled miss had in the course of the Season thus far earned herself the title of “Princess Pompous.”

Six weeks. Princess Pompous. And all of London knew precisely how terrible the girl was.

The prospect set Adelaide’s mind humming with anticipation. She enjoyed nothing so much as undertaking the utterly impossible.

“I will see to it, Mr. Goddard, that you receive a copy of the Times in which the wedding announcement is printed.”

He smiled, the same almost boyish grin she’d seen from him time and again during her stay in Bath. “You are very confident.”

She nodded. “I’ve not failed yet.”

“I look forward to reading all about it.”

She rose, and he did as well. “The very best to you and your family, sir. I am pleased to have been of help.”

He offered a brief bow and she a curtsy.

“A token of our appreciation will be deposited in the appropriate account,” he said. “And a bit extra.”

She dipped her head in understanding. A lady did not earn a salary; such a thing was far too crass, no matter that money was a necessity. Payment for her efforts was always explained in terms like that: “token of appreciation” or “a gratuity” paid her through a third party. She understood the necessity—her standing as a lady depended on it. Still, she found the charade a bit tiring.

She returned to the room that had been hers for four weeks. Her portmanteau and traveling trunk were ready and waiting. A footman appeared shortly after her arrival to carry the trunk to the waiting Barrington carriage.

Adelaide took her portmanteau in hand and gave the room one final glance. Another departure. Another challenge. Though she always experienced a twinge of regret, the surge of excitement far outweighed it.

“I hope you are ready, Princess Pompous,” she whispered. “I am about to overthrow your little kingdom.”


Odette Armistead knew the name Society had fashioned for her. She had been aiming for the Contemptuous Countess or the Disdainful Duchess, so to have been granted a title as high as Princess Pompous was really quite an achievement. Her parents were far less proud of her moniker than she was, which was a shame. Young ladies were meant to be accomplished, and earning the simultaneous disapproval and rapt interest of the easily distracted ton was an accomplishment. She would far rather have gained some friends and fond memories, but, alas, it was not to be.

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