About the Book:
At the advanced age of twenty-seven, Prudence Pentyre is on the shelf. Content to occupy her time by attending meetings of Mr. Wilberforce’s Abolition Society, Prudence is resolved to see that her younger cousin Margaret, shy and plain, does not share her own unmarried fate.
Despite her best efforts, all of Prudence’s matchmaking attempts fail. Margaret proves reluctant to accept Sir James Brownell’s marriage proposal, and fears being “bovinised” if she undergoes the controversial cowpox vaccination he recommends. And the dashing baronet—with his sunburned skin, eye patch, and unfashionable attire—seems more concerned about the plight of headhunters in Borneo than Margaret’s stubborn refusal of his offer.
Prudence, on the other hand, finds herself unexpectedly smitten with the man. Can she trust that God’s plan for her life is richer and more rewarding than the one she had planned for herself?
Excerpt from Prudence Pursued:
“You should not wear that to the pox party,” Prudence Pentyre said, indicating her younger cousin’s dress of light green Italian silk. “I recommend something with short sleeves which allows you to expose your forearm to the lancet.”
Margaret shuddered. Her plain face, pale and lightly freckled, appeared downcast. “Oh, Pru, I wish I didn’t have to go.” She stood, slender shoulders drooping, in front of her open wardrobe.
“Truly, Meg, there’s nothing to worry about,” Prudence assured her, slipping a comforting arm around her cousin’s slim waist. “Papa had all of us vaccinated with the cowpox when we were still in the school room—and the servants too. I’m quite surprised my Uncle Giles didn’t do the same.”
A glint of disapproval flashed in her soft brown eyes. Silently, she fumed. Uncle Giles had held too many old-fashioned notions. Such an old stick! He was dead now, having suffered an apoplexy two years ago. Her mother, if she knew of Prudence’s unspoken condemnation, would have reminded her not to speak ill of the dead. This dictate had never made sense to Prudence. Why were some of life’s most unsavory characters deemed to be saints after their deaths? Not that Uncle Giles was unsavory, but he had been shamefully old-fashioned.
“Look, Meg, there’s not even a scar.” Prudence held out a white arm for her cousin’s perusal. “Mr. Jenner’s procedure is almost painless and quite safe, much safer than buying the smallpox and enduring the dreaded disease.”
“Papa didn’t believe in it. He said it was God’s will some people should die of the smallpox,” Margaret said, turning away from her to examine an array of dresses hanging in the wardrobe.
“God is not so cruel,” Prudence insisted.
“Some say the vaccination will cause one’s facial features to resemble those of a cow,” Margaret ventured, her forehead creasing with anxious wrinkles.
Prudence laughed. “Neither John or Patience have any cow like features, and you can see for yourself I do not.” Slightly unsettled by her cousin’s close examination, Prudence shrugged.
“Yes, look at me, Meg! Do I resemble a cow? I can assure you I don’t have a cow tail hidden beneath my skirts either. None of us have bovinized, as you fear. I believe Mr. Jenner’s procedure to have been God-inspired. Truly. Papa has preached this same opinion from the pulpit. Mr. Jenner took notice how milkmaids and dairy farmers did not succumb to the deadly smallpox plague when there was an outbreak in their village. It was because of their exposure to the harmless cowpox. It was an amazing observation which will benefit us all.”
Like her parents, Prudence was an ardent admirer of Edward Jenner. In fact, her father, the Reverend Henry Pentyre, was a member of the Royal Jennerian Society and helped to raise money to give free vaccinations throughout England. Prudence enjoyed accompanying her father when he rode out to the rural areas to administer the vaccine himself to those members of his parish willing to undergo the procedure.
“But what if you should marry and have children?” Margaret hinted, unconvinced. She clutched her hands at her waist. Prudence, noting the slight tremor, realized her cousin was trying not to reveal her agitation.
“Both John and Patience are married with children, and none of my nieces and nephews look like heifers, I assure you!” Prudence insisted. She gave Margaret a reassuring pat on the shoulder “You’re making a great fuss for nothing.”
With a sigh, Margaret retrieved a short-sleeved muslin gown from the wardrobe and held it up before her. As she considered her image in the mirror, Prudence stepped up behind her, peering over her cousin’s shoulder. Smiling at Margaret’s reflection, she noted the similarity of their features. They were much the same height—too tall and thin to be in fashion. They had dark brown hair, pert noses, and generous mouths, much too wide to be considered beautiful. But each had soulful brown eyes, heavily fringed with thick, dark lashes.
Prudence considered her eyes her best physical feature. They were large and expressive. When she had been much younger, an infatuated suitor had once written a poem for her, referring to the subject of his adoration as the, “lovely, ox-eyed Prudent Athena.” Smiling, she recalled this bit of poetic nonsense, but decided not to mention the particular compliment to Margaret. At least not until after the girl had been vaccinated with cowpox and quite recovered from her current state of anxious misery.
About Shirley Raye:
An award-winning nonfiction writer and former columnist for The Santa Fe New Mexican.
Shirley Raye Redmond has sold 27 books and over 450 articles to a wide variety of publications, including The Pacific Stars and Stripes and Cosmopolitan as well as Highlights for Children and The Christian Standard. Two of her nonfiction children’s titles have sold more than 200,000 copies each.
Lewis and Clark: A Prairie Dog for the President (Random House) was a Children’s Book of the Month Club selection. Pigeon Hero! (Simon and Schuster) won an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award. Patriots in Petticoats, Heroines of the American Revolution was named one of the best children’s books of the year.
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