Extract

The Buccaneers – Extract

This extract comes from Chapter Thirty, the first chapter I wrote to link the final 30,000 words with Edith Wharton’s unfinished manuscript.

In the course of her lengthy unburdenings to Miss Testvalley at Champions, Nan steadfastly refused to speak ill of Ushant; she merely recounted the events at Longlands and her own feelings in the face of them, but Miss Testvalley’s heart grew heavy as she listened. The comfort she drew from Nan’s steady return to health was mingled with a sense of her own complicity in the sad affair that was Nan’s marriage.

Miss Testvalley tried to console herself. The five American girls had so successfully stormed the bastions of English society that Miss March had dubbed them, ‘The Buccaneers’. They were the envy of Old New York, but that was cold comfort to Laura Testvalley. She tried once more: Conchita Marable had landed on her feet and would remain on them, as long as she contrived to find the necessary money; and the Elmsworth girls’ marriages were fashioned from sturdy stuff. Mab Elmsworth had refused the hand of the Duke of Falmenneth and accepted instead a dashing, intelligent young captain in the Guards. But still Miss Testvalley would not be consoled. She blamed herself for the fate of the St George girls, particularly that of Nan St George. They would have fared far better, she told herself, if they had never come to England. Why had she uprooted them so thoughtlessly? Why hasn’t she properly considered the likely consequences?

Jacky March informed Miss Testvalley that Seadown still visited Idina Churt when it suited him, and yet he considered it his divine right to plunder Virginia’s fortune to support himself (and Lady Churt); and as for Ushant, why, or why, hadn’t she caught Nan fast and kept her from him when he had made it plain that he meant to marry her? She had been such a child then … .

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