Friday, December 23, 2011


Here's a lovely historical piece by Anne Gallagher. I love the easy flow of her story and her ability to convey so much about Ophelia in such a short piece. I wanted to continue reading--what do you mean that was the end?

Do enjoy the Caymore's Holiday Ball with Miss Trent.

If you enjoy the story please share it on the networks which would be a lovely gift for the hardworking author.


            Miss Ophelia Trent stood breathless at the top of the stairs. She clutched her reticule, still unbelieving the Duke and Duchess of Caymore had invited her to their Holiday Ball. Ophelia gazed down at her mother’s old gown and wondered what people would think. There had been neither time, nor money for anything new, and now, standing here in the grand ballroom, Ophelia knew she should not have accepted. She would be a laughingstock. A penniless baronet’s daughter trying to pose as a member of the aristocracy? What balderdash!

            “Miss Trent,” Lady Penelope said, startling Ophelia.  “I’m so glad you could come. Your dress is quite lovely.”
            “Thank you for the invitation, your ladyship,” Ophelia said and bobbed a short curtsy for the second time that night. “I must confess I am very surprised you thought to include me, as our previous meeting was rather brief.” Ophelia remembered that day at the Bainbridge Hotel and winced with embarrassment.
            Lady Penelope took her arm and propelled her through the massive throng. “I have longed to further our acquaintance, and perhaps introduce you to some of my friends. As for a confession,” Lady Penelope leaned closer, “I understand how very hard it must be for you to meet people and I thought perhaps your mother would approve.  I’m so glad she allowed you to attend.”
            “Yes, Mother was quite in rapture,” Ophelia said. Her mother had nearly had an apoplexy when Ophelia showed her the invitation.
            Lady Penelope moved through the crowd like a double-masted schooner with full sail, smiling and waving as she went along, not stopping until she reached a small group of people standing near the terrace doors. Lady Penelope introduced her to all of her friends, and Ophelia blushed to her toes when introduced to Mr. Jonathon Garrick. Taller than she and exceedingly handsome, Ophelia was at a loss to remember when last her heart had hammered so.
            Upon hearing the musicians, the Duke of Caymore, Lady Penelope’s husband, said, “Come Pen, we must dance the first.”
            Ophelia watched enviously as all her new acquaintance moved to the dance floor. As she stood there feeling foolish, wishing she were home in bed, Mr. Garrick stood before her.
            “Miss Trent, do allow me the honor of your hand for this dance.”
            Ophelia flustered. “Mr. Garrick, that would be lovely, thank you.”
            Mr. Garrick proved to be a delightful dancer. He did not step on her toes, and moved with a grace that belied his imposing height.
            When he brought her back to the corner of the terrace, Ophelia thanked him again for the dance. As she stood there uncertain of what she should do, several gentlemen asked for introductions and as her dance card filled, Ophelia wanted to cry from happiness. She had never in her whole life met with such agreeable and amiable companionship. The affinity she felt meeting Lady Penelope’s friends gave her a new outlook, at least for the night. Her troubles melted away along with the concerns about her old-fashioned gown.  She had received numerous compliments on it from men as well as women.
            Mr. Garrick danced with Ophelia several times. Surely, it was not like a man to be so singular in his attentions, but Ophelia didn’t examine it too closely. This was a once in a lifetime prospect, for she knew she would never be given another invitation to a ball.  Her life revolved around her family, but just for tonight, she would heed her mother’s advice and take every opportunity to enjoy herself. 
            When Mr. Garrick asked her for the supper waltz, Ophelia could barely keep the smile from her face. Her first waltz, and in the arms of this handsome gentleman, was enough to make her swoon.
            As the music ended, and they stood on the edge of the parquet, Mr. Garrick leaned down and asked, “Have you an escort for supper?”
            “Why, no,” Ophelia said.  She hadn’t even thought of that.
            “Allow me.” He proffered his arm. “Although, shall we wait until this mass has thinned?” Mr. Garrick asked as they neared the overcrowded dining room. His warm hand rested over hers on his arm.
            “Oh, yes, let’s do,” Ophelia said. “Perhaps we could find a quiet corner for the nonce.”
            “As you wish.” Mr. Garrick led her to a small table and chairs on the opposite side of the great room.
            When Ophelia settled her skirts, she looked at Mr. Garrick expectantly. He merely stared at her with large grey eyes that crinkled in the corners. Perhaps she should be the one to speak first.
             “Mr. Garrick, I want to thank you so very much for your kindness this evening. It has been most welcome. I know not a soul here, and thought I would be sitting with the dowagers.”
            “I must confess, Miss Trent, and forgive me for being so forward, but, you have quite bewitched me.”
            “Mr. Garrick,” Ophelia whispered. “Surely, you jest.” The idea of bewitching him seemed impossible. Here she sat, a simple baronet’s daughter too long on the shelf, in a borrowed antique gown.  She had learned earlier in the evening he had resigned his commission in the Navy after Trafalgar. Perhaps he had suffered a head injury.
             “No,” he said. “I do not.” He looked deep into her eyes. “When Lady Penelope told me about you, she never shared with me your exquisite beauty, or your humble character.”
            Ophelia blanched. “Pray what else did she tell you?” She hoped not the scandalous tale of how she and Lady Penelope actually met.
            “Only that you are the sweetest, gentlest, creature I could ever hope to meet, and if I were a man with any sense, I would declare my affections immediately.”
            “Mr. Garrick, I know not what to say.”
            “Say, I may court you. Say I may call upon your family. I know this is rather sudden, but say you will be my wife.”
            “Mr. Garrick!” Ophelia could not be hearing him correctly. Surely, he did not just say he wanted her for his wife.
            “Miss Trent,” he said solemnly. “I know this seems a bit of a shock, to myself as well, but I have been searching for a woman of your caliber for a very long time, and have never found her. Until now.  I vowed when such a time came, I would not waste another moment vacillating between my head and my heart.” He got down on one knee and took up her hand. “Miss Trent, I am entirely in your hands.”
            Of all the things Ophelia had previously thought about this night, garnering a marriage proposal had never been one of them.
            “Mr. Garrick,” Ophelia said, gathering her wits. “Having only just met, I am a bit overwhelmed by your passion.  However, I will confess, I do like you, very much it seems, so I will say yes to a courtship.  As for marriage, I am hardly in a position to accept at this moment, so we shall see what the future brings. That being said, I believe I would like you to escort me into supper now.”
            Mr. Garrick kissed her hand and helped her up, his smile outshining the candles in the chandelier.  “Your wish is my command, my dear.”

            Ophelia thought she had never had a lovelier Christmas wish come true.

You can find Anne and more about her writing: 


~Sia McKye~ said...

Anne, Welcome to Over Coffee.

I love your story. Thank you for sharing it. :-)

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Great to read Sia, a good post to start my day.


Anne Gallagher said...

Thank you so much for having me today, Sia. I've been working on a much longer version so you won't have to wonder, is that all there is.

Happy Happy Holidays to you and all your lovely readers.

Linda G. said...

Truly a sugarplum of a story -- just right for this sweet season. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Now that made for a wonderful Christmas! Mr. Garrick is lucky. Most of us have to grovel a bit to get a woman to marry us.
Merry Christmas, Anne and Sia!

~Sia McKye~ said...

A longer version? Yay! I'll be looking forward to that, Anne.

Carol Kilgore said...

Well now of course I want to know exactly how Ophelia and Penelope met.

Merry Christmas, both to Anne and Sia.

VA said...

Delightfully sweet.

Anne Gallagher said...

Thank you everyone for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

And Carol, you'll just have to read A WIFE FOR WINSBARREN to find out how Penny and Ophelia met.

Liza said...

Ah, so like a fairy tale. What a good read Anne!

Angela M. said...

Well done! Love this, Anne. It's an incredibly warm, feel-good holiday story. You know now we'll be expecting the longer version, lol.

Elaine AM Smith said...

Sweet, what a lovely story. I hope we get to hear what happened at the Bainbridge too.

Old Kitty said...

Blimey! What a story!! Good for Ophelia!! Thanks for such a thoroughly dreamy snippet of your novella Anne! Take care