Author’s note: This is the tale of how Doctor’s Daughter Helena Rycroft met Lord Marcus Lynchcliffe.
“Helena!” Sarah Rycroft called upstairs to her flighty fifteen year old daughter. “Wash up! Luncheon will be on table in ten minutes!”
“Right you are, Mamma!”Helena called down.
Helena Rycroft washed hehands peeking at her reflection in the glass as she did so. She was a slender young girl; not yet quite filled out in the right places but getting there. Her
eyes were bright and her skin shone with a healthy lustre of its own. Helena
loved life and was prepared to embrace its danger and adventure. Quite unlike
her sister Celia who had married three years previously to a Cornish Lord whom
Helena with politeness called safe. Her brother in law, Lord George Trevelyan,
was handsome and pleasant enough but inspired no passion in Helena. Celia was
plain despite being attractive for she never wore make up and was chaste as a
teetotal nun. Helena by contrast wore bright clothes and liked to be the life
and soul of any party.
Dr Michael and Mrs Sarah Rycroft loved both their daughters equally but often joked that one of them must surely be a changeling due to their vast differences in temperament and
Helena bounded down thestairs and took her seat opposite her mother who had just laid some bread and cold meats on the table
Dr Rycroft joined them from his consulting room across the hallway and smiled at his daughter who gaily smiled back.
“For what we are about to receive may the good Lord make us truly thankful. Amen.” Dr Rycroft intoned.
“Amen.” Sarah and Helena chorused in unison.
“Do you miss your sister?”Sarah asked.
“Not really.” Helena wrinkled her nose. “I love Celia but she isn’t exactly fun to be around a lot of the time. She married a nice safe man who won’t bother her much for all that but if
and when I marry I want more than that. I want to marry a man who inspires a
real passion in me and who will give me lots of children.”
“How do you know about men bothering women for all that?” Sarah asked.
“Mamma, I am a doctor’s daughter. I know, in theory at least, what goes on between married couples and some not married as well.”
“Just so long as it’s only theory for now.” Dr Rycroft said.
“Naturally.” Helena helped herself to more cold ham.
“You’re quite well known in social circles.” Dr Rycroft continued. “Don’t any of the young men of your acquaintance inspire you?”
“Not likely!” Helena’s tone was vehement. “They’re the sort farmers daughters marry. They are nice enoughto look at; safe and dependable but with no spark.”
“Lord Jeremiah Lynchcliffe is holding an open house next weekend.” Dr Rycroft said. Helena sat forward in her chair. “There will be a horse back treasure hunt, shooting and fishing as well as dancing. You are well accomplished in most of these areas Helena. I have
discussed it with your mother and if you wish to go I see no objection.”
“Lord Lynchcliffe has a son who is believed to be quite dashing.” Sarah said. “What’s his name again?”
“Marcus.” Michael said. “I haven’t met the young man myself but I do know some of the household as I haveto attend his Lordship occasionally when his gout is bad.”
“Just think! If Helena was to make the right impression both our daughters would be titled Ladies.”
“Let’s not run before we walk, Sarah.” Michael laid a hand on his wife’s arm. “Helena might not even like the young man.”
“I will go along though.” Helena said. “I’ve always been curious about the estate and what it’s like. Ican’t wait.”
The meal being over Helena helped her mother clear the table and wash the dishes while Dr Rycroft went about his house calls.
Helena and her parents spent much of the following week in discussion with regard to the impending day at Lynchcliffe Park; they discussed what Helena might wear and how she should present herself socially. Every night Helena went to bed with a nervous thrill of
excitement. She was by no means a tease but she enjoyed flirting casually with
young men and her long eyelashes, the way she flicked her hair and the way she
smiled made many young and not so young men fall under her spell.
On the morning of the Eventas it had become known in the Rycroft household Helena was up almost before the lark busy washing herself thoroughly. Her heart raced with anticipation. Shehad built up a picture of Lord Lynchcliffe’s son Marcus in her mind and was barely able to contain herself for the chance to compare her idea with the
reality of the man.
She dressed in cream riding breeches and a white blouse with a dark navy jacket and Sarah did her hair for her fastening it with pins into a neat chignon. Helena’s hair was at that annoying length where it was not quite long enough to maintain any fashionable style but
she resolved to grow it.
She breezed downstairs. It was a bright spring morning. Sarah was making tea and toast although herhusband would not be in for a while as he had gone to assist with a difficult
birth in the next village.
Helena ate ravenously.
“Go easy else you’ll make yourself sick!” Sarah chided.
“I’m just so excited, Mamma.I can’t help it!”
Helena brushed the crumbs from her mouth and wiped her face with a damp cloth.
The Rycroft’s kept a small stable since Dr Rycroft’s preferred conveyance for house calls was a pony and trap for he just could not understand the fascination with this new fangled
motor car idea. He had two ponies he alternated between; a grey thoroughbred
filly named Desdemona and a piebald named Othello. Then there was Helena’s
beloved own pony; a rich chestnut filly named Gypsy Girl. Celia had also kept
her pony there but he had gone with her to Cornwall following her marriage.
Tom the stable hand; a cheerful freckled lad of seventeen had Gypsy Girl saddled and ready to go.Helena thanked him.
“No trouble Miss Rycroft. I heard you’re mixing with the gentry today. Take care as some of them rich lads don’t know how to behave proper round ladies.”
“I’m not a lady, Tom.” Helena burst out laughing. “Far from it.”
“Take care nonetheless.” Tom said.
Tom had a crush on Helena and they had been friends since childhood. He had always preferred bright cheerfulHelena to her somewhat dour older sister, Celia, who had no real time for him.
Tom held Gypsy Girl’s head while Helena mounted and took up the reins. Helena rode astride as she had no patience with side saddles and other ladylike ideas.
Helena was one of the first people to arrive at Lynchcliffe Park and it was then that nerves began to take a hold. Who did she think she was mixing with the likes of these people? Fair
enough her father was a much respected member of the local community and called
out day and night to sometimes serious yet often trifling ailments but could
she fit in here?
A footman came to greet her.
“Miss Rycroft?” He asked.
“That’s right.” Helena smiled.
“I never got a proper chance to thank your pa for seeing me Gran out of this world with dignity. Tell him Jim Hackett sends his regards.”
“I will do.” Helena said. “What’s to happen first?”
“The treasure hunt ain’t until later.” Jim said. “I can have your pony stabled until then. There will be others arriving shortly but you are quite early.”
“I apologise for that.” Helena said. “I got up early to make sure I had plenty of time and it didn’t take anywhere near as long as I expected especially as Gypsy Girl here was all
ready and waiting for me when I went out.”
“Gypsy Girl, a beautiful namefor a beautiful horse.” Jim said, stroking her nose.
“I’m very fond of her.” Helena said as she dismounted and patted Gypsy Girl’s neck ruffling the mane between her ears. The pony nuzzled its mistress with affection.
“Jim! Less talk more work!” A voice said.
“I didn’t mean to get you in trouble.” Helena apologised.
“Sorry, My Lord.” Jim said.
A young man walked towards them and Helena could tell by the cut of his clothes and the way he carried himself that here was someone to be reckoned with.
“I’m not Lord Lynchcliffe yet, Jim.” The man said. “I hope to God it’ll be a few more years before I pick up that yoke. The old man will live forever especially if Dr Rycroft stays
“This is Dr Rycroft’s daughter.” Jim said.
The other man held out hishand.
“Helena Rycroft.” Helena said trying to ignore the sensation of hairs prickling on the back of her neck and the warm wet sensation between her legs as she shook Marcus’s hand realising that he too had felt the jolt that passed between them.
“They’re serving coffee and breakfast in the Dining Hall.” Marcus said as he recovered himself. “Or have you had breakfast?”
“I have but I could make light work of a cup of coffee.” Helena said.
“Come on then I’ll show you.” Marcus said. As they walked away from Jim who was leading Gypsy Girl away he muttered.
“Just call me Marcus. If your father keeps looking after mine the way he is I’ll be an old man myself before I get that title. Not that I’m bothered because I want to live a little first.”
“That’s pretty sensible.” Helena said.
“You’re only a chit of a girl as yet.” Marcus laughed yet not unkind. “How old are you?”
“Nearly sixteen.” Helena said.
“You seem very grown up for that.”
“I’ve assisted my father with minor medical and surgical procedures so I have seen and learnt far more about life than most my age.” Helena said.
Marcus was tall at about five feet ten inches with sandy fair hair and intense hazel eyes. He was well built yet of muscle not fat and Helena caught herself wondering what it would be like to be held close to him and to feel his lips against hers. She hoped she was
“Stop it! She chided herself “He must be at least ten years older than you are.”
“I’m to be twenty six end of June.” Marcus said as though he had read her thoughts.
“I lied.” Helena confessed. “I’m not actually sixteen until next March.”
He was standing so close he was almost touching her; she smelt his cologne and felt his warm breath on her neck.
“You’re woman enough.” He said.
They went inside for coffee.
Marcus was disturbed by this beautiful young woman. Hell she was so young and not quite developed in all the right places yet she carried a maturity beyond her years. His father Jeremiah had been harassing him of late with regard to taking a wife. His favourite saying
was “Son, men five years younger than you are twice fathers by now.”
“I don’t just want anyone, father.” Marcus argued. “She’ll be Lady Lynchcliffe, she has to be special.”
That day Marcus Lynchcliffe felt certain that he had met that special lady.
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