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By His Side

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“But I just don’t understand the rush, Molly. Why are you insisting on all of this being done so quickly? This is your wedding that we’re talking about. Why, Cynthia took nearly a full six months to choose her trousseau…”

Molly couldn’t help but smile fondly at her step-mother, knowing that she meant well with her fussing. “I know that, mama and it is because it’s my wedding that I don’t want all of this fuss. I love Cynthia dearly but we have very different tastes and opinions when it comes to weddings.”

“But, but … surely you don’t intend to buy your wedding dress from Miss Rose’s?”

Molly laughed at the outright horror in Mrs Gibson’s voice. “No, mama. I promise you that I won’t be buying my wedding dress from Miss Rose. Lady Harriet has already made arrangements for a fitting with the lady who made my dress when I stayed at the Towers for that weekend.”

“Lady Harriet?”

“She’s a bit hard to say no to. Anyway, we’ll be married in the church and then have the wedding breakfast at Hamley Hall at the squire’s insistence.”

“Well, I suppose if your wedding dress is taken care of … but what about after the wedding? You’ll be mistress of Hamley Hall… you’ll be expected to keep up certain appearances.”

“And my current dresses are more than suitable. The squire couldn’t care a whit and, well, Roger seems to like the way that I dress well enough.”

“That may well be the case but they’re men and I’m not sure that you completely understand the position that you’ll be taking in society. Molly, my dear, you will be Mistress of Hamley Hall.”

“Yes, I will be mistress of Hamley Hall but Roger and I will hardly be in high society when we’re in Africa.”

“Africa? Oh, my dear Molly. Is that why you are so insistent on the hurry? So that you can marry before Roger must return to Africa?”

“Yes, he can’t postpone the expedition for too much longer. And you weren’t listening, mama. It won’t just be Roger going to Africa; I’m going with him. Now that we’ve finally found each other, I have no intention of being anywhere other than by his side. Besides,” Molly smiled rather mischievously behind her teacup, “I’ve always wanted to see Africa.”