a man does not have honour, he has nothing,' Edward Loveday declared
to his wife. 'I will never sacrifice my honour simply to make life more
ignored him and stared out of the window of the orangery at Trevowan
where they had taken their afternoon tea. Her auburn hair was coiled
at the nape of her neck and partly hidden under a lace cap. The tilt
of her chin was stubborn and the set of her shoulders uncompromising.
There had been too many strained silences in recent months.
Edward had hoped that the birth of their daughter three months ago would
heal their differences. He tried again to ease the tension between them.
'It is time to put the past behind us, my dear. Are you not allowing
your recriminations to mar all that has been good in our lives?'
'Scandal is eroding the good name of the Loveday family. How can you
make it seem that I am the one in the wrong?'
She kept her face averted and her chest rose and fell in growing agitation.
'Since our marriage your family has been linked with one scandal after
another. Even you have not spared me. Where is the honour in that?'
'You twist my words. Have I not asked your forgiveness for the pain
I have caused you? Are these times not difficult enough without your
'I cannot condone….' She broke off abruptly and took several deep breaths
before resuming in a martyred tone. 'My daily prayers are that all members
of this family will bring no further shame to our door.'
Edward suppressed a sigh and picked up his newssheet. Where Amelia saw
shame in the actions of members of his family, Edward was worried that
fate and fortune had conspired against them, and that their lives were
in jeopardy. These were ruthless and uncertain times.
The strident tapping of a teaspoon against the bone china saucer soon
made it impossible for him to read. He folded the newssheet and put
it aside and studied the tense figure of his wife. Amelia was staring
across the grounds of the estate, her eyes focussed upon the spire of
Trewenna church. In her late thirties she was still lovely; her hair,
though streaked with grey at the temples, was thick and luxuriant and
her complexion creamy without the necessity of powder.
The tinkling peal of the spoon against the cup tested Edward's patience
to its limit. He was relieved when a maid entered to clear the crockery
and tea tray and Amelia relinquished her spoon with a terse sigh.
The afternoon sun dappled the leaves on the hawthorn, oak and elm trees
on the hill behind the house and its rays slanted through the panes
of glass of the orangery. The sunlight turned the white marble floor
golden, and the leaves of the orange bushes in their stone urns cast
shadows across the carved wood of the chairs and low tables. Edward
squinted his blue eyes against the brightness of the glare. His heart
was heavy, weighted by worries. He feared for the lives of his son,
Adam, as a prisoner of the French; and also his nephew, Japhet, accused
of highway robbery and who was now awaiting trial in London's most notorious
He reached out to touch a lock of Amelia's hair but she pulled back
from him. This coldness between them was hard to bear. He was a passionate
man and he did not want a loveless marriage. Honour bound him to the
obligations of his past as well as the present. Yet if he had not yet
won Amelia's understanding how could he hope for her forgiveness? He
could not put honour aside but he loved his wife, and was determined
that his marriage would not be sacrificed on the altar of family duty.
With so many problems threatening the welfare of his family his sense
of honour and duty would be stretched to its limits in the coming months.
lost patience with his wife's manner. The gentle, loving woman of their
first four years of marriage had changed into a bitter, judgemental
woman in the last year. This Amelia was a stranger to him. Edward did
not condone Japhet's conduct or the circumstances that had led to his
eldest son's, St John's, trial last year for murder - another scandal
that had almost brought the family to ruin although St John had been
innocent. It had been a testing time, stretching loyalties to their
limit. And now this episode with Japhet…
ground down his fears for his nephew. He did not believe Japhet was
a thief. He was wild, headstrong and reckless but a he was not a hardened
criminal, of that Edward was certain. Edward accepted the frailties
of others. He was fiercely loyal to his family and he expected no less
loyalty from his wife.
fit of coughing made him turn away from Amelia. Pain lanced through
his chest and sweat stippled his upper lip and brow. He led a far from
conventional life himself. His health had suffered from a recent run
in with excise officers on Loveday land, when they had found contraband
hidden by a local smuggler. In the confrontation Edward had been shot
and the wound was slow to heal.
have duties on the estate that must be attended to,' Edward announced.
stood up too quickly, pain shooting through his chest. Momentarily,
the room spun around him. He dragged in a deep breath and caught sight
of his reflection in the window. His chiselled features were leaner
and his tall, slender figure was slightly stooped. He straightened his
spine. The movement sharpened the pain in his chest and he clenched
his jaw to overcome it.
'You do too much, Edward,' Amelia scolded. 'You must put your health
He stared at her lovely face taut with her unhappiness and fears and
his love for her overrode his anger. Amelia had endured much in the
last two years, and her sensibilities had often been offended. Even
indiscretions from his own past had returned to put a further trial
upon his marriage. But those indiscretions had been many years before
he had met Amelia, and he refused to be judged by her because of them.
There was no reasoning with Amelia at the moment and he prayed that
in time she would be more charitably disposed about the tribulations
they had faced during their marriage. He loved her deeply and wanted
the rift between them to end.
should be resting. Edward.' Her tone sounded more condemning than compassionate.
'You were coughing through the night again. Dr Chegwidden says you do
too much. There is cold wind off the sea. You will get a fever if you
He disregarded her advice. He could not afford to pander to the pain
in his chest and the bouts of weakness that struck without warning.
Too much depended on him rebuilding the reputation of the shipyard that
had been damaged at the time of St John's trial. They had lost several
customers and once the trust of customers were lost it was hard to win
it back. It was Edward's reputation for integrity that had kept the
remaining customers loyal to him.
'I am well enough,' he responded, tersely. 'You worry too much. And
my dear, you must try not to dwell upon the misfortunes and trials that
have beset us. It is the future that is important.'
He bowed over her hand and lifted it to his lips.
'I will never abandon my duty or loyalty to any member of my family,
but your happiness is of great import to me. You were my rock in the
first years of our marriage and have blessed me with two wonderful children.
My feelings for you have not changed, my love. I esteem you above all
women. It has been nearly a year since we have truly lived as man and
wife. A family is only strong when it is united. Is it not time to put
Her hand was cold and she redrew it to link her fingers firmly in her
lap. Her eyes were filled with tears and pain as she held his stare.
'Whilst your illegitimate daughter continues to live at the shipyard
I feel humiliated and shamed. Send her away and I will be a true wife
to you again, Edward.'
Her conditions were unacceptable. The weight of his burdens pressed
down on him. A sharp pain shot through his chest each time he drew a
deep breath. Amelia's stubbornness was a bitter betrayal. He knew he
was pushing himself past the limits of his endurance, but he had never
turned his back on his family or duty and whatever the cost he would
not fail them now.