Sir Robert Stafforth was a man of his times. He was a tall, confident man, handsome and easy of temperament. His sister Minnie, who was much younger, was always his pet. She approached his study with only a slight flutter of trepidation.
“Robert, I have something I want to tell you.”
“Very well, Minnie. Come in. What can I do for you?”
“I have been very busy of late working on something that is very important to me. I have been writing some stories, and I’ve actually had some success.”
“Indeed. What do you mean by success?”
“In August, a small volume of short stories was published under the pen name of Montford Styles called, The Wheel of Fashion."
“I believe Cecelia was reading that book.”
“I am Montford Styles.”
“You, Minnie! How on earth could you know how to find a publisher?”
“That was George... Mr. Blackwood. You know he’s a columnist. He is acquainted with all sorts of publishing people and authors and whatnot. That’s why I have been writing to him. He has been helping me.”
“Has he indeed.”
“You’re not annoyed about this, are you, Robert? It’s all done under a pen name so there is no danger of it becoming known. Besides, plenty of ladies write under their own names these days.”
“They are not my sisters.”
“Oh, Robert, don’t be stuffy about it. This is so important to me! It has given me a new occupation in life. I don’t have to sit around waiting for someone like Lord Edward Welsey to take notice of me.”
Sir Robert leaned back in his chair and regarded his young sister. “You have no further interest in marriage, then?”
“It's not that.”
“Then I should reconsider if I were you. Things are not so different now that young men should not have second thoughts about marriage to an authoress. It would make you positively unattractive to many men. I fear you will not have many suitors.”
Minnie flushed slightly and took a deep breath. She knew that her brother was doing her the honor to be quite candid with her.
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