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The Wit and Wisdom of Bridgerton
Author: Julia Quinn

 

 

1


Anthony

 

It is a dull week in London, so we shall recount one of the finer, more dashing moments of yesteryear about a gentleman now so staid and, dare we say it, boringly married that This Author has had no cause of late to include him in these papers.

Indeed, the Viscount Bridgerton has all but ceased to be newsworthy (a circumstance he likely appreciates). He dances with his wife so often that it is no longer scandalous. He dances with his mother, he dances with his sisters and his sister-in-law, and we presume he will someday dance with his daughter.

Positively tedious for a former rake who once was such a delight to write about.

But if This Author had to recount one moment that younger members of the ton might not have heard tell, and about which older members may have forgotten, it is the time he did That Thing. On That Evening.

It occurred at Aubrey Hall, the country seat of the Bridgerton family, and it would surely have been the talk of the season—or at least of a fortnight—except the following day the viscount found himself surprisingly engaged to be married amid undisclosed circumstances to a lady he’d not been courting.

Naturally, This Author chose to write about this shocking turn of events. And as a result, That Thing he did on That Evening went unreported.

But That Thing did happen, Dear Reader. And That Evening was glorious.

’Twas a house party thrown by his mother, the esteemed Lady Bridgerton, in which a positive gaggle of unmarried ladies were invited, and at which Lord Bridgerton, as host, was to escort some duchess or another into dinner.

But then Lord Bridgerton overheard one of the young misses make a vicious remark to another. Who the Injured Miss was is unimportant to the story, and who the Mean One was we shall not dignify. This story is about Anthony Bridgerton, and how he became a hero to wallflowers everywhere.

Standing more than a full head taller than the two ladies in question, Lord Bridgerton practically cast a shadow over the Mean One, gave her (Oh. My. Goodness!) the cut direct (Yes. He. Did!), and then indicated that he intended to escort the Injured Miss to dinner.

No, Dear Readers, This Author does not embellish.

Mean One then apparently blurted something akin to: “But you can’t!”

Lord Bridgerton then said something to the effect of, “Was I talking to you?” and gave his undivided attention to the Injured Miss as he walked her into dinner, in front of everyone, with all the grace and deference as if she were a Princess of the Blood.

It was, Dear Reader, spectacular.

LADY WHISTLEDOWN’S SOCIETY PAPERS, 1821

 

 

THE TOPIC of rakes has, of course, been previously discussed in this column, and This Author has come to the conclusion that there are rakes, and there are Rakes.

Anthony Bridgerton is a Rake.

A rake (lower-case) is youthful and immature. He flaunts his exploits, behaves with utmost idiocy, and thinks himself dangerous to women.

A Rake (upper-case) knows he is dangerous to women.

He doesn’t flaunt his exploits because he doesn’t need to. He knows he will be whispered about by men and women alike, and in fact, he’d rather they didn’t whisper about him at all. He knows who he is and what he has done; further recountings are, to him, redundant.

He doesn’t behave like an idiot for the simple reason that he isn’t an idiot. He has little patience for the foibles of society, and quite frankly, most of the time This Author cannot say she blames him.

And if that doesn’t describe Viscount Bridgerton—surely this season’s most eligible bachelor—to perfection, This Author shall retire Her quill immediately.


LADY WHISTLEDOWN’S SOCIETY PAPERS

20 APRIL 1814

 

 

THE VISCOUNT WHO LOVED ME

He was the firstborn Bridgerton of a firstborn Bridgerton of a firstborn Bridgerton eight times over. He had a dynastic responsibility to be fruitful and multiply.

* * *

Something had happened to him the night his father had died, when he’d remained in his parents’ bedroom with the body, just sitting there for hours, watching his father and trying desperately to remember every moment they’d shared. It would be so easy to forget the little things—how Edmund would squeeze Anthony’s upper arm when he needed encouragement. Or how he could recite from memory Balthazar’s entire “Sigh No More” song from Much Ado About Nothing, not because he thought it particularly meaningful but just because he liked it.

And when Anthony finally emerged from the room, the first streaks of dawn pinking the sky, he somehow knew that his days were numbered, and numbered in the same way Edmund’s had been.

* * *

He knew well the singularly strange sensation of loving one’s family to distraction, and yet not feeling quite able to share one’s deepest and most intractable fears. It brought on an uncanny sense of isolation, of being remarkably alone in a loud and loving crowd.

* * *

He was no fool; he knew that love existed. But he also believed in the power of the mind, and perhaps even more importantly, the power of the will. Frankly, he saw no reason why love should be an involuntary thing.

If he didn’t want to fall in love, then by damn, he wasn’t going to. It was as simple as that. It had to be as simple as that. If it weren’t, then he wasn’t much of a man, was he?

* * *

But the truth was, there was no one to blame, not even himself. It would make him feel so much better if he could point his finger at someone—anyone—and say, “This is your fault.” It was juvenile, he knew, this need to assign blame, but everyone had a right to childish emotions from time to time, didn’t they?

* * *

“Sometimes there are reasons for our fears that we can’t quite explain. Sometimes it’s just something we feel in our bones, something we know to be true, but would sound foolish to anyone else.”

 

 

A MAN with charm is an entertaining thing, and a man with looks is, of course, a sight to behold, but a man with honor—ah, he is the one, Dear Reader, to which the young ladies should flock.


LADY WHISTLEDOWN’S SOCIETY PAPERS

2 MAY 1814

 

 

It was funny, he reflected later, how one’s life could alter in an instant, how one minute everything could be a certain way, and the next it’s simply . . . not.

THE VISCOUNT WHO LOVED ME

 

 

* * *

It was ironic, but death was the one thing he wasn’t afraid of. Death wasn’t frightening to a man alone. The great beyond held no terror when one had managed to avoid attachments here on earth.

Anthony could see Miss Sheffield growing worried at the devilish gleam in Colin’s eye. He took a rather uncharitable pleasure in this. His reaction was, he knew, a touch out of proportion. But something about this Miss Katharine Sheffield sparked his temper and made him positively itch to do battle with her.

And win. That much went without saying.

* * *

“Oh, bloody hell,” Anthony swore, completely forgetting that he was in the company of the woman he planned to make his wife. “She’s got the mallet of death.”

* * *

She wanted him. He knew enough of women to be positive of that. And by the time this night was through, she wouldn’t be able to live without him.

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