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Georgian woman paid dear for their mistakes

I've talked about the plight of fallen woman before. But how about the runaways? Those romantic young girls who fall in love with the wrong man and, as the saying went, throw their cap over the windmill. Suppose it all goes wrong? What's a girl to do? Does she go home and throw herself on the mercy of her infuriated family? Or does she stay away, making shift for herself?

The trouble is, there were so few ways for a genteel female to do that. Governess or companion was about the limit. And the pay for either was generally poor. But at least you had a roof over your head and your meals paid for, even if drudgery was the price you paid.

Better than prostitution, and better than a worse kind of slavery in domestic service. Or, if you were handy with a needle, you might end up in the Georgian or Regency equivalent of a sweat shop sewing room, working for a pittance for hours on end to make hats or gowns for the ladies among whom you should have been living. Or with good references, you might become a housekeeper - not so well paid, but plenty of perks.

However, there is always the vexed question of references. If you have none, you are condemned to whatever work you can get. You'll probably end up eking out a living working for bossy middle class women who suspect, from your classy accent and manners, that you're no better than you should be and have fallen from grace. Which is of course the exact truth. Perhaps you'll be lucky enough to be taken on trust just because of your hidden status.

Then your first job will give you a reference at least, and you can move on. But it's a harsh life. And if you're young and pretty, no one with susceptible sons is going to hire you to teach their girls the rudiments of genteel conduct. It won't be easy to get work.

In another of my out of the ordinary tales, we meet our heroine on the way to her new post. Six years have passed since the foolish indiscretion of her youth. Six long and lonely years of a miserable existence. Her clothes are threadbare, she is thin and starving. She thinks at least these evils are behind her, but fate has other ideas.

Her new employer is a cantankerous and bedridden old woman, at war with her equally vicious daughter in a decaying mansion where Theda finds her troubles are just beginning.


Sheltering from a violent storm, Benedict helps a woman in distress, who turns out to be his dying godmother’s companion. A shocking inheritance blasts friendship apart, and Theda has to confront the ghosts of her past. Will the blistering scandals of yesteryear keep Theda and Benedict forever divided? Or will the flame of love triumph?

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