“She looks so very happy,” said Lady Pippa Andrews, admiring her aunt and dearest friend, Elizabeth.
“Indeed, she does,” replied her father, the Duke of Bregman. “As am I. To be truthful, I never imagined she would finally marry. My little sister, finally choosing to let go of spinsterhood for the sake of love.”
Pippa smiled, glad that Elizabeth had managed to find a man worthy of her. At twenty-eight years of age, most people had thought she was doomed never to marry, but she had confided in Pippa many times that she believed the right gentleman was out there.
Thankful that her father had not forced his young sister to marry sooner, Pippa took his hand and squeezed it. The music played around them, and couples took to the floor to join Elizabeth and her intended.
“Father, will you dance with me?” Pippa asked.
“I can think of nothing that would make me happier,” he replied.
With that, the two made their way onto the floor and began dancing. It was a sweet moment for Pippa, twirling in her father’s arms. He had always been such a kind man and support for her. Although he did not wish for her to marry as late as her aunt did, she knew that he would do his best to aid her in finding a good man as opposed to a man she may not ever love.
“My dear, what do you think?” he asked, as though reading her mind.
“About the gentlemen you have met this evening. I am sure there is a good one amongst them. I am quite fond of Lord Browerton. He has done much work on behalf of the House of Lords. And Lord Croft as well. His business in the East Indies is rather astonishing,” he said.
Pippa sighed and smiled, not having been overly interested in either of those men. Although they were nice enough, she felt no spark with either of them and wondered if there was any chance that she might one day fall in love.
“For the time being, I do not expect that I will be courted by either of them. While they are decent gentlemen, I am not intrigued, Father,” she confessed.
“Very well,” he replied, disappointment weighing heavily in his voice.
Pippa didn’t want to let her father down, but she couldn’t lie, and she certainly would never subject herself to marrying a man purely for the sake of marriage. She longed to marry only for love, and if that day were going to come, she would need to fight for it. She would have no other choice than to stand firm and insist upon a future of her own making.
Unfortunately, however, Pippa knew that her mother was unlikely to offer her the same graces her father did. As it was, her mother would never allow Pippa to carry on like this, waiting for the proper man to appear. It wasn’t as though Pippa wished to be alone forever, but her mother’s insistence was difficult and often left Pippa feeling discouraged.
“Has another gentleman caught your eye? Perhaps there is someone even here tonight whom you have not yet met. Shall I introduce you to anyone?” her father asked, hopeful.
“I am sorry, Father, but there is no one I have seen who I would like to know better. I overheard Mr. Williams speaking about all the land he owns, and it was clear that he is quite arrogant. And Elizabeth has told me that the Baron of Ryle is a bore,” she explained.
“Just because your aunt thinks he is boring does not mean that you will as well,” he warned.
“Father, Elizabeth and I have very much the same humour, and you know it. If she finds a gentleman to be full, I am bound to feel the same,” Pippa reminded him, to which he relented as he spun her in the dance.
“Very well. Still, I should like for you to consider that there are many men here,” he said.
“But I would like to wait for love, just as Elizabeth did. She always tells me that if you search for love, you will find it, but it may fade in time. If, however, you wait for love to find you, it is something you will never manage to escape,” Pippa said.
Just as she and her father changed partners amid the dance, she saw a flash of mourning in his eyes. Perhaps it was the sadness for his own circumstance, being married to someone for whom he had no affection. Of course, Pippa’s mother certainly did not love or respect him in return. Their marriage was merely an arrangement of convenience.
But soon they came back together, and he had a smile on his face once more.
“Well, my dear, that is a very important thing to consider. However, while I should like to give you the chance to find a man you can love, your mother may be less willing,” he warned.
Pippa glanced over to her mother, who was standing with her friends, observing the dance with pursed lips and cold eyes. She was not a woman to be trifled with. Although Pippa was sure she had once been youthful and had the same joy as other young women, she was not like that now. Moreover, people always told Pippa that she greatly resembled her mother, with those green eyes and the dark blonde hair that hung straight when it was not twisted into a neat bun. But Pippa saw these features as nothing more than a note of her genetics.
Her nature was nothing at all like her mother’s, and that was something in which she took great pride.
“Surely she would understand that I at least want to have a life lived with joy and peace and a man whom I can truly adore,” Pippa said.
Her father chuckled and gave a light shrug.
“My dear, your mother’s wishes have never ceased to confuse me. Nevertheless, I do hope that you maintain your optimism. Whether or not she gives you the freedom to remain unmarried much longer is something over which I have little control,” he said.
Pippa knew he was right. At least if she chose to marry sooner rather than later, she would have a small say in who the man might be. She would have to choose from amongst those men her mother and father picked for her, but if she continued to wait, her mother would likely decide on one specific man, whether Pippa liked him or not.
The dance came to an end with a long, lovely note that vibrated into the air. Pippa was at peace, having enjoyed every last moment of her dance with her father. He led her off to the edges of the dance floor and smiled.
“Those musicians really know what they are doing. I have seen a great many men perform with finesse and skill, but none with such passion,” he said.
“I was just thinking the very same thing,” Pippa replied, glancing over at the quartet in the corner of the brightly lit room. There was a violinist with a smile that exuded pure joy. He stood next to the cellist and violist, who were a good deal younger and resembled the violinist enough that Pippa assumed they were all brothers.
She could not see the fourth man, the pianist hidden by the sheet music, but he had played quite well in addition to the others. The men each guzzled water in a hurry before quickly getting back to the task at hand and starting the next song.
“I shall remember them for the day in the near future when we are celebrating your engagement. If your mother has her way, it ought to be within the week, yes?” her father teased.
“Good heavens, I certainly hope not. I do not think I could bear it,” Pippa said.
“Pippa! Oh, Colin, you and your daughter dance as though you were made for it,” Elizabeth said, rushing over to Pippa and her father.
“Thank you, Lizzy. I am thrilled for you and your intended. I was so glad to see the two of you dancing as well,” Pippa’s father said.
“Elizabeth,” Pippa said, “Please tell my father—and my mother, for that matter—that it is far better to wait for love. Just as you have often told me.”
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow and looked her brother in the eye.
“I fear that I have been telling your father this for many years. He always said that though I am his sister, I was too young to understand such matters. I trust he has learned his lesson by now,” Elizabeth said.
Although Pippa understood that Elizabeth was referring to the unhappiness between Pippa’s mother and father, the three remained lighthearted. Her father simply cocked his head and sighed.
“Very well, I am not likely to win with the two of you beckoning me to give in to your wishes. I often find myself wishing that my sister and my daughter were not so close. It gives you such power to conspire against me,” he teased.
“That is not the power of your daughter and sister; it is simply the power of the female mind,” Elizabeth quipped.
Although Pippa wished that this moment truly could mean that a difference was upon the horizon, she knew better than that. It was silly to put any faith in the belief that her father would manage to convince her mother of anything her mother did not want. Still, Pippa hoped that a day might come when things would be different. She only had to trust that, in time, her voice would be heard.
Charles Thomas stretched his fingers across the keys to form the dissonant chord that concluded another song. At last, he exhaled, and the sweet, glorious tension of the melody broke. With a grin that he could not contain, he looked up at Joseph and his brothers, who lowered their bows and quickly made any tuning adjustments necessary.
“A waltz, Charlie?” Joseph asked.
“Yes, a waltz is next,” he replied, flipping the pages of his music. Charlie quickly reached for his water and took a deep drink, not having realised just how thirsty he was.
When he looked up over the pages for a moment, his eyes widened.
A young woman with straight, blonde hair that was pinned into the loveliest bun stood with a man who looked to be her father, as well as the soon-to-be bride that they were all celebrating. The blonde woman had enormous, light-coloured eyes. Charlie could not tell if they were blue or green or a nice grayish hue, but they were large and round, giving her such an innocent appearance that he wondered for a moment if she were but a child trapped in the body of a woman.
Just then, another lady with similar colouring came over to the trio. There was an immediate tension amongst the others, but Charlie only had a moment to observe what was happening. The woman—clearly the young lady’s mother—grasped her by the wrist and excitedly urged her towards an older gentleman. The young woman appeared displeased, but she went along as her mother quickly began making introductions to the fellow who was certainly not an appropriate age for a match.
The young lady smiled politely, and when the man leaned in with a leering smile and appeared to ask a question, his eyebrows raised with hope, the young woman stiffly relented.
“Is it all right if we take just a moment?” Joseph asked, leaning over to Charlie.
Charlie turned to him, trying to remember himself amid his distraction.
“Hmm? Oh, yes, of course. In fact, I do believe that it is time for a short break. They said we might have five minutes every hour,” Charlie said.
“Wonderful. Simon needs the privy,” Joseph said, glancing at his youngest brother.
Charlie gave Simon a nod to go, and the violist set down his instrument and rushed off in a hurry.
“He ought not to have so much water between each tune,” Charlie said with a laugh.
“No, indeed. I have often warned him about that, but he is still young and doesn’t always think about that,” Joseph replied.
Nathan was busily taking care of his instrument, and Charlie knew that he had a moment to ask his own question. He paused for a moment, knowing that it was ridiculous to even consider asking, but found that he couldn’t help himself. He wanted to know who that young woman was. If Joseph had any idea, at least it would satisfy Charlie’s curiosity, and that had to count for something.
“What exactly has you so distracted?” Joseph asked, stepping closer to Charlie and following his line of sight.
Charlie didn’t reply, but he continued to gaze upon the lovely young woman, and Joseph let out a gentle laugh.
“She’s lovely, is she not? There is certainly something about those eyes,” Joseph said.
“Whose eyes?” Simon asked, returning in a hurry.
“Lads, what are you doing? Can you not see how the host is glaring at you?” Nathan asked in a harsh whisper, cutting Joseph off from speaking.
Charlie looked up, saw the displeasure in Lord Daniel White’s eyes, quickly sat back at the piano, and nodded to his friends that it was time to begin playing once more.
The four of them started to play the waltz, and Charlie, knowing it perfectly, peered around his sheet music and watched the young woman dance with the older gentleman. She showed exquisite elegance and grace, but there was no joy in her eyes any longer. She was clearly performing the dance out of duty rather than willingness.
Deciding that he had no desire to prolong her misery, Charlie spoke just loud enough for his friends to hear.
“Let us skip the second and third, lads. Go straight through fourth and fifth and be done with this one,” he said, suggesting they keep the tune brief.
Joseph looked at him curiously but went along with it, and they played just over half the music, skipping the two repeats. As the waltz came to its end, there were a few confused expressions among those on the floor, but most people did not seem to notice.
Charlie was relieved to see the young woman escape the older gentleman in a hurry with a simple curtsey and departure back to the soon-to-be bride. With that, Charlie led them into another song.
They continued to play for nearly an hour when Lord White gave them a nod, and Charlie was glad that the evening was winding down. They brought the last tune to a crescendo, and he struck his final note, completing the night once and for all.
“Well done, gentlemen,” Joseph said with a grin as he loosened the horsehair on his bow.
“Indeed, that was tremendous. We shall have no trouble at all finding parties to play in the future after an evening like this one,” Nathan said.
Charlie gathered his sheet music together and looked up once more to search the crowd for the young woman. He was desperate to know more about her, and Joseph had nearly told him before they’d had to start playing again. Although Joseph was busy getting his own things together, Charlie ushered him closer.
“You were going to tell me about the young woman, the one with the eyes,” he said.
“Hmm? What are you—oh! Yes! Of course,” Joseph said, realising what Charlie was speaking of once more.
“Who is she?”
“That young woman is Lady Pippa Andrews. Lady Elizabeth Andrews—the woman we were to celebrate this evening—is her aunt. Her father is Lord Colin Andrews, the Duke of Bregman,” Joseph replied.
Charlie’s brows shot up in surprise. That young woman was the daughter of a duke? With that in mind, he was certainly a fool to have allowed himself even a moment of intrigue. A woman like that would never notice him, nor would she be allowed to.
“Ah, I see,” he said with disappointment.
“Cheer up. Just because a woman of her esteem would never look twice at poor musicians like us does not mean that we must be sad. After all, we will certainly get to play in celebration of her future marriage as well,” Joseph teased.
“Yes, that is precisely what I want. To have to play music for the engagement of the most beautiful woman I have ever seen and to know that I could never do anything more than that,” Charlie muttered.
“Just remember that you played wonderfully, and even if she never knows your name, you allowed her to have a few decent dances for the night,” Joseph said.
“Well, I do suppose that is something, after all,” Charlie said, trying to stave off his disappointment.
In truth, Charlie was still desperately curious to know more about Lady Pippa. It didn’t matter that she was a noblewoman or a stranger to him; it mattered only that he had seen her beauty as well as her unfortunate circumstance of having to entertain a man like the one she clearly wanted to get away from.
Perhaps it was a fool’s hope to want to meet her, but a fool’s hope was all a poor pianist could have. There was nothing else for him and no reason to imagine meeting her or speaking with her.
He loved his life, but this was the clincher he had to live with. Charlie would forever spend his days making music for the wealthy men and women of London, and he would never get the chance to dance amongst them.
Pippa was a mix of emotions as the night came to an end. Although part of her wanted to continue celebrating her aunt, another part of her felt relief. At least she would not have to spend another moment attempting to charm old men who were still unmarried and had a good deal of money to their names.
Pippa said goodbye to Elizabeth, and her father went to do the same. Just then, Pippa’s mother drew near to her and leaned in close.
“Pippa, darling, you must go and speak with the earl,” she demanded.
“Which earl, Mother?” Pippa asked, exhausted by the request.
“Lord Manning, of course. The man you waltzed with,” her mother said.
“But why? He is nearly as old as Father. Surely you have no intention of making a match for me,” Pippa replied.
Her mother narrowed her eyes, and Pippa took a deep breath, understanding that this was precisely what her mother intended.
“Very well,” Pippa said, forlorn. “What exactly am I to say?”
“You are to thank him for the dance and wish him a pleasant journey home this evening,” her mother replied in frustration, as though Pippa should already know exactly what to do.
“As you wish, Mother,” she said.
With that, Pippa searched the room until she saw Lord Manning near the musicians.
“That’s a good girl, Pippa. Remember, it is very important that you find a man like him. He is wealthy, and that sort of money makes a woman extremely happy,” she insisted.
Pippa refrained from telling her mother that it certainly didn’t work in her own life. Pippa’s mother and father married for the mutual benefit of wealth and title, something which had brought no happiness to either of them within their marriage.
Nevertheless, she made her way towards Lord Manning, who was faced away from her. As she drew near, she quickly realised that he was scolding the musicians.
“I can hardly imagine why you would play such a short waltz. What exactly were you thinking? I needed it to last quite a bit longer than that, you understand,” he insisted.
“We beg your pardon. It was not our intention to cause you any distress this evening,” the violinist said, clearly unaccustomed to this treatment at the end of a night of performing.
“I fear that you caused me a great deal of distress,” Lord Manning replied. Then, with a rather suggestive laugh, he added, “I wanted more time with the young woman with whom I was dancing. Come now, you are musicians, and I am sure you know how it is with a woman. First, you must woo her in public. That is the only way to get more time with her … in private.”
Pippa’s blood ran cold, horrified as she understood what it was that Lord Manning was trying to say. It would have been bad enough if he had simply been crass, but saying it with that gruff laughter only made her even more humiliated as she realised he was speaking of her.
She saw the expressions on the musicians’ faces, noting they looked more disgusted than anything. But when the violinist looked at her directly, his eyes widened. The pianist was red from anger, and then he, too, noticed that Pippa was standing there.
Just then, Lord Manning turned around and his own face drained of colour when he saw that she had clearly heard everything he said. His embarrassment was evident, but he quickly tried to cover it, regaining his posture and pasting a smile on his face as though nothing at all had happened.
“Ah, Lady Pippa. I had hoped I might find an opportunity to say farewell to you before the evening came to an end. So … goodnight,” he said quickly before turning and leaving in a hurry.
For a long moment, Pippa stood frozen in place. She was in complete shock and didn’t know what to say or do. She had never heard a man be so brazen about a woman before and could hardly believe that someone would say that about her.
What did Lord Manning think of her? Did he truly believe that a longer dance with her meant that she would simply hand over her virtue without a second thought? Did he think that she was unwilling to hold her dignity to a higher standard?
Although she was dismayed by this response from Lord Manning, Pippa knew that she could not simply stand there forever, mourning the treatment she had received. When she managed to wake from the shock, she realised that the four musicians were still staring at her.
The pianist opened his mouth to speak, paused, and then proceeded to speak, although she saw how uncomfortable he was.
“I am terribly sorry that you had to endure such a shocking statement. Please know that his words have no effect on our assumption that you are a virtuous and noble woman,” he said, looking at her with great care and sympathy.
But despite the kindness in his words, Pippa couldn’t bear to stand there a moment longer. She turned away and bolted through the dwindling crowd.
Distraught by what had just happened, she could hardly bear to speak with anyone. Nevertheless, Pippa had to find her mother and father, push away her emotions, and follow them to the coach. She was too upset to tell them what had happened but determined that she would try to find the words at a later time. Until then, all she could do was vow never to marry a man like Lord Manning or his ilk.
No matter what her mother desired for her, this was not a life she could accept. She would not hand her happiness over to the whims of others, and she would never allow a man to disrespect her so brazenly.
As they made their way home by coach, Pippa remained quiet, lost to her distress and the realisation that for all her commitments to refuse such a life, she had to accept that she may have no choice in it at all.
“A Sonata for a Noble Soul” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Lady Pippa Andrews believes that rather than searching for love, she should wait for love to find her. Her mother, however, insists on a marriage for financial reasons and she does whatever it takes to force her into courtships with wealthy lords. Pippa’s heart only skips a beat though, when at a symposium, she meets a charming man, whose music sweeps her off her feet.
Will this charismatic man be able to give Pippa the fairytale life she has always dreamed of?
For Charlie Thomas, music has always been his life’s passion. While he loves performing at balls, he wishes he could live the life his father led; one filled with adventurous travels and an everlasting romance. It is when he first lays eyes on the enchanting Lady Pippa that he begins to think such life is achievable after all. As time passes, Charlie realises that he is starting to fall for her mesmerising beauty…
Will Charlie find a way to get closer to the only woman who moved the strings of his heart?
While Pippa and Charlie fight for their chance at love, Pippa’s mother insists on arranging a marriage of her own making, one that is acceptable to society. Despite all odds, will these two soulmates unite their two worlds and follow the calling of true happiness? Or will they be doomed to a life of lovelessness caused by Pippa’s mother?
“A Sonata for a Noble Soul” is a historical romance novel of approximately 50,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.