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Miss Darcy is happy to announce that because The Virtuous Ward is just being launched, it is available for a limited time at $.99. It’s such an amusing story and was great fun to write so I’m thrilled to share it with you. All of you who are privy to the time period will recall that Lady Grassmere was prevailed upon to act as chaperone to Lord Maxwell Kampford’s ward, Amity. What a contretemps. The poor girl was totally unprepared for society. And then of course there was the dog.



Muffin was not a dog of noble birth or ancestry. He was to be perfectly honest a mutt. But Amity loved him as you will see.

“Come on, Muffin, you lazy slug. Wake up,” Amity muttered, elbowing her companion. When this tactic had little effect, she leaned over and whispered. “I’ll help you look for cats. And maybe even a rabbit.”

Thus tempted, Amity’s companion, an enormous brown dog of unknown and highly suspect origin yawned, his great tongue arching upward between neat rows of white teeth. He stretched all four legs and emitted a low rumbling moan before he turned his head toward his mistress. Muffin’s eyelids raised and he stared at Amity through soulful pools of brown.

“What a lump you are,” Amity said as she hugged her friend, nuzzling one floppy ear. “Ever since we got in the coach this morning you’ve been sleeping. Besides we’re almost there. Coachman said it would be another half hour.”

Thus reminded of their imminent arrival, Amity bit her lip, feeling the jolt of her accelerated heartbeat. She pushed the huge dog off her lap and brushed at the clumps of dog hair left behind. Then reaching up, she untied the blue ribbon that confined her hair at the nape of her neck. As usual a cloud of the bright red curls had escaped and were billowing around her cheeks. She raked her fingers through the shimmering mass of waist-length hair and retied the ribbon.

“My reticule! My gloves!” she wailed, searching the carriage.

She found the reticule at last beneath the plain poke bonnet, which she jammed on her head, but after a hurried hunt, could not find her mittens. She remembered removing them at the last stop and accepted the sad fact that she would have to arrive at her destination with bare hands. The reticule was dusty and she grasped the strings and smacked it against the squabs sending up clouds of dust. Muffin inhaled and sneezed so heartily that the movement propelled the dog upright, where he sat, eyes wide open and black nose aquiver. When Amity giggled at the dog’s expression, he looked so offended that she burst into a loud whoop of laughter. Thus Amity and Muffin arrived at Edgeworth.

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