The Mysterious Howling
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Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.
Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must help them overcome their canine tendencies.
But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance's holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?
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It would have been pleasant to have parents, of course, or at least parents whom she could more clearly recall....She recalled being told about a mother and father who needed to take a long, dangerous journey and would someday return for her - or perhaps that was something she had read in a book. It was hard to be sure after so many years.
“All this trotting to and fro will be the” - _huff!_ - “death of me!” she wheezed, although, as you already know, regular aerobic exercise was far more likely to improve her cardiovascular fitness than cause her demise.
She had chosen Dante because she found the rhyme scheme pleasingly jaunty, but she realized too late that the _Inferno_’s tale of sinners being cruelly punished in the afterlife was much too bloody and disturbing to be suitable for young minds. Penelope could tell this by the way the children hung on her every word and demanded “More, more!” each time she reached the end of a canto and tried to stop.
Penelope had long ago accepted that a thick mane of glossy, bouncy ringlets was not destined to be hers. However, she had read many books in which girls who start out plain blossom into great beauties, and almost as many in which girls who stay plain are loved all the more for their warm hearts and good common sense. Penelope was confident that one fate or the other would be hers eventually, and so she tried not to give the matter too much thought.
When the impossible becomes merely difficult, that’s when you know you’ve won.
Wearing it gave her more rather than less confidence, and that is precisely what a well-chosen outfit ought to do.
Penelope was left with the impression that titles were more important than profession and land was more important than business, but money was far more important than any other sort of accomplishment.