To Sir Phillip, With Love (Bridgertons 5) - Page 1

I am not the most patient of individuals. And I have almost no tolerance for stupidity. Which was why I was proud of myself for holding my tongue this afternoon while having tea with the Brougham family.

The Broughams are our neighbors and have been for the past six years, since Mr. Brougham inherited the property from his uncle, also named Mr. Brougham. They have four daughters and one extremely spoiled son. Luckily for me, the son is five years younger than I am, which means I shall not have to entertain notions of marrying him. (Although my sisters, Penelope and Georgiana, nine and ten years my junior, will not be so lucky.) The Brougham daughters are all close in age, beginning two years ahead of me and ending two behind. They are perfectly pleasant, if perhaps a touch too sweet and gentle for my taste. But lately they have been too much to bear.

This is because I, too, have a brother, and he is not five years younger than they are. In fact, he is my twin, which makes him a matrimonial possibility for any of them.

Unsurprisingly, Oliver did not elect to accompany my mother, Penelope, and me to tea.

But here is what happened, and here is why I am pleased with myself for not saying what I wished to say, which was: Surely you must be an idiot.

I was sipping my tea, trying to keep the cup at my lips for as long as possible so as to avoid questions about Oliver, when Mrs. Brougham said, “It must be so very intriguing to be a twin. Tell me, dear Amanda, how is it different than not being one?”

I should hope that I do not have to explain why this question was so asinine. I could hardly tell her what the difference was, as I have spent approximately one hundred percent of my life as a twin and thus have precisely zero experience at not being one.

I must have worn my disdain on my face because my mother shot me one of her legendary warning looks the moment my lips parted to reply. Because I did not wish to embarrass my mother (and not because I felt any need to make Mrs. Brougham feel cleverer than she actually was), I said, “I suppose one always has a companion.”

“But your brother is not here now,” one of the Brougham girls said.

“My father is not always with my mother, and I would imagine that she considers him to be her companion,” I replied.

“A brother is hardly the same as a husband,” Mrs. Brougham trilled.

“One would hope,” I retorted. Truly, this was one of the more ridiculous conversations in which I had taken part. And Penelope looked as if she would have questions when we returned home.

My mother gave me another look, one that said she knew exactly what sort of questions Penelope would have, and she did not wish to answer them. But as my mother had always said, she valued curiosity in females…

Well, she’d be hoist by her own petard.

I should mention that, petard-hoisings aside, I am convinced that I have the finest mother in England. And unlike being a nontwin, about which I have no knowledge, I do know what it’s like to have a different mother, so I am fully qualified, in my opinion, to make the judgment.

My mother, Eloise Crane, is actually my stepmother, although I only refer to her as such when required to for purposes of clarification. She married my father when Oliver and I were eight years old, and I am quite certain she saved us all. It is difficult to explain what our lives were like before she entered them. I could certainly describe events, but the tone of it all, the feeling in our house…

I don’t really know how to convey it.

My mother—my original mother—killed herself. For most of my life I did not know this. I thought she died of a fever, which I suppose is true. What no one told me was that the fever was brought on because she tried to drown herself in a lake in the dead of winter.

I have no intention of taking my own life, but I must say, this would not be my chosen method.

I know I should feel compassion and sympathy for her. My current mother was a distant cousin of hers and tells me that she was sad her entire life. She tells me that some people are like that, just as others are unnaturally cheerful all the time. But I can’t help but think that if she was going to kill herself, she might as well have done it earlier. Perhaps when I was a toddler. Or better yet, an infant. It certainly would have made my life easier.

I asked my uncle Hugh (who is not really my uncle, but he is married to the stepsister of my current mother’s brother’s wife and he lives quite close and he’s a vicar) if I would be going to hell for such a thought. He said no, that frankly, it made a lot of sense to him.

I do think I prefer his parish to my own.

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