In the end, Hamish's mother decided against attending her son's wedding. From what she heard though, it was a sorry affair. Certainly nothing as grand as what she would have planned if anyone had asked her. Which they did not.

But what could one expect from a Kingsleigh, when the family was barely a step above trade?

In that vein, Alice did prove to be a rather frugal mistress of the Ascot family estate—a surprising development, given that she was quite certain the uppity young woman had married her son for material reasons. Although, she could not find fault with her careful maintenance of household finances, she did wish Alice had not been so penny-wise in her wedding plans. An orchid or two might have shed some elegance on their wedding breakfast at least, and if Hamish's chosen bride had come to her properly contrite and dutiful, she might have even given her several of her own prize orchids in return. As it was, the wedding was shabby, and that reflected poorly on the family. Or it would have if anyone worth impressing had even attended. Which they had not.

Not even the Manchesters could hardly be counted nowadays as a family of standing what with Margaret making a fool of herself with a footman if the gossip was to be believed.

Lord and Lady Ascot very rarely had anyone smart over for dinner either. Professors and photographers and artists and all sorts of ne'er-do-wells that were supposed to be amusing or interesting or some thing or another, but whom she suspected Alice found wandering the streets. The dinners served these vagabonds both in town and in the country were simply dreadful—she worried endlessly about Hamish's delicate digestion—the conversation was hopelessly peculiar, and the children were allowed to recite poems and tell riddles long after good little children should be in bed, so perhaps it was a blessing that Alice did not have sense enough to invite the people she ought. The less good people who knew about her son's odd wife, the better.

Yes, the match was decidedly lackluster. She could count on each finger a young lady who would have been more suitable for Hamish. Why just think of Anna with the family fortune in banking, Grace, the heiress, with the beautiful estate in Derbyshire, or Elizabeth, who knew how to keep up such charming pleasantries at teatime. She would have been proud to have welcomed any of those young ladies as a daughter-in-law. And yet, he persisted in saying how happy Alice had made him. As if happiness was all that mattered in this world.

At least the children were handsome enough. Not quite as pretty as she would have liked perhaps. Both the boys were gingers, which did not seem entirely fair with that daughter of hers flouncing about with lovely, loose, blonde curls, but they promised at least to surpass their father in good looks, which was all she had ever truly hoped for out of the union after all.

In wits, however, the boys were just as lacking as their father, the original fool, who had been lured into marriage by Alice's feminine wiles. They would persist in being taken in by every mad thing that monstrously tempered little girl told them. Rocking horse flies in the garden and roses that traded insults and rabbits with timepieces. All so much useless nonsense, when they should be studying maths and geography and Latin. But when she had complained to her son—a very reasonable criticism that any loving grandmama might make—that Charlotte was filling little Arthur and Henry's impressionable minds with utter rubbish, he had retorted that he was glad to hear it, that Alice had filled his mind with very similar rubbish once upon a time and he was much better off for it.

She doubted that very much.

The End