Bonus Helen of Castleford scenes

Hello, Blue Jade News Subscriber! We hope you enjoy these deleted/bonus scenes from Helen of Castleford. Just a reminder, these scenes may contain plot spoilers, so please do not read them if you haven’t read the book! A brief description before each scene will give you information about where you can mentally sort them into the original timeline.

  1. This deleted scene is a little sliver from Helen’s perspective. This is after the wedding, and while they are still at Castleford, right before Piers confronts her over the “coal” ledger. 

Helen was reading a novel in the ladies’ sitting room. 

“Your Grace.” Colin the footman bowed low and offered her a screwed-up note on a silver salver. 

She darted a significant look at Nora, who had been perusing her fashion magazines, including the two most recent publications of La Belle Assembleé, and making notes in her sketchbook about the types of articles she wanted Helen to wear.

“Excellent bow, Colin,” Nora encouraged. The young footman sent her a raffish wink before returning to his new habit of excessive imperturbability. 

Helen sighed and picked up the note. She appreciated the unfussy atmosphere they’d enjoyed at Castleford before a duke had taken up residence, but she reminded herself that it was better to have priggish servants than no servants at all because her father had spent all the household money on unmentionable things. Also, Colin was just pretending to be a proper footman, which made his more professional mannerisms take on the flavour of a fun parlour game.

Madam Wife, the note began. I wish to speak with you in the study at your earliest convenience, regarding a matter of Some Importance. 

Yours, etc.

Helen sighed again and stowed the book she had been reading on a side table. Bellamy could have just asked Colin to fetch her, but he had probably never been constrained to consider the cost of paper.

“May I borrow your pencil?” 

Nora looked up. “Certainly.”

Colin passed Helen the pencil. She turned the note over, and after a moment’s thought, wrote a response.

“Here,” Helen said, replacing the paper on Colin’s salver. “Please deliver this to the Duke.” 

When Colin left, Nora began to quote, “O my Luve is like a red, red rose,” but Helen had already jumped up, and she rushed from the room before her companion could quote the next line of the poem. 

  1. This scene takes place after Helen fled the coal ledger confrontation. If you remember, she bumped into Devon, who had asked where Nora was.

After running quite literally into the Duchess of Bellême, Captain Ferris made his way up to the sitting room she had specified, even though the rules of society said he should not. Miss Reeves, or Nora, as he liked to think of her, may have functioned as a chaperone to a girl who had lost her mother, but she was still herself very beautiful and unmarried. 

He soothed his conscience with the admission that he wasn’t going to linger. He was merely planning to tell Nora that her charge was overwrought, then he would bow down to society’s rules and leave her in peace. 

After seeing the way Helen had adroitly handled the De Roqueforts, Devon had moved the young duchess to his increasingly long ‘do not underestimate’ list, which included Russian winters and the organisational capabilities of the Prussian government. But Helen was still a very young woman, and he had seen the desperate alarm on her face before she’d masked it. He couldn’t think of anything Bellamy could have said to her that would discompose someone of the duchess’s seemingly phlegmatic personality, unless it was to threaten something or someone she loved. 

It was obvious that Helen loved Castleford more than the Duke cared for any of his many properties, but Devon knew that under Piers De Roquefort’s thorny exterior was a good man who would never willingly harm a woman—especially his wife—or her land, or her people. And he was an unusually good steward, even if he was a duke. 

Not that Helen would know that yet. 

Devon couldn’t witness her suffering without trying to help, so here he was, on the way to save the day. He shook his head in amusement at his foolish thoughts. 

He huffed and puffed as he traversed yet another hallway, headed towards another winding stair. Although Castleford contained certain cavernous chambers, other parts were narrow, steep, and positively poky. Halfway there—and after stopping for directions from a chambermaid—he was embarrassingly out of breath from the exertion, which didn’t indicate positive things about his current physical condition. 

For some reason, he suddenly recalled the celebratory dinner his mother had held for him when he’d reached his majority. Once a year, the Ferris children were allowed to have an entire pudding of their choosing, and as he’d thoroughly enjoyed a vast serving of lemon crème, his mother had watched in horror, begging him to marry before age inevitably robbed him of his flat waistline and masculine beauty. 

“I may be old and ugly now, but I’m not yet so deaf that I can’t hear a woman in the same room insulting me,” his father had complained, causing those of his children who were present to laugh. His mother had apologised and kissed his pater right in the middle of his bald head, and afterward sat with him in his chair for the remainder of the evening, while the children played spillikins quite loudly. 

The Ferris family was large and not very affluent, but happy, which had made Devon’s experience of family life just about the opposite of Bellamy’s. 

Despite his rackety reputation, Devon had secretly looked forward to settling down and mimicking his parents’ successful marriage. Then he had gone away to war, and met and married Margarida, who had died; the wars had dragged on, and he hadn’t been so keen to rush into marriage again after that. 

What did he have to offer a woman? His military salary hadn’t been much to speak of, of course, and was long gone, and although he’d received the price of his commission when he’d sold out, his parents had loaned him most of that money in the first place and had been very happy to get their share back. With his portion, he had made some investments, and while he wasn’t a pauper, his wife would need to have far different expectations than Bellamy’s, for example. If this mystery woman wouldn’t object to living in a cottage near his parents and employing a modest household budget, they would do well together, as long as she also didn’t mind his boisterous siblings dropping by whenever they wished… 

On top of these other deficiencies, it had been over ten years since his mother’s remarks about his looks being on their way out, which meant his available time to make a pretty woman fall in love with him was growing short indeed. Further delaying Devon’s ability to find a wife was the fact that with age, had come greater discrimination.

He no longer vaguely thought that being pretty and cheerful were the most important qualities in a woman. His late wife had shown him the value of feminine strength and courage. His future wife, if she existed, wouldn’t be a society maiden, who had been trained and prepared to make a splash and marry as high into the peerage as possible. She would be a woman who liked him, who liked children, and didn’t think fine clothes and luxuries were the most important things in the world. And obviously, he didn’t want to be a disappointment to her; a younger son she had settled for because no one better had come to the point.

Maybe it was foolish, but he had begun to wonder if Nora couldn’t be that mystery woman. For whatever reason, she had been compelled to become a paid companion. Although his father was a gentleman, Devon didn’t look down on men or women who were employed; he admired those who were willing and able to support themselves. That willingness to work also seemed like a good quality to bring to a marriage, because he knew that being happy wasn’t always easy.

However, he had no idea about Nora’s ambitions. She was so beautiful and had such an air of sophistication that once she was in London for The Season, on the arm of a duchess, he couldn’t think of any man—who wasn’t forced by impecunious circumstances to hang out for a rich wife—who wouldn’t want to marry her. No matter how clever she was or how easily he could picture her fitting into his family, charming his parents and making droll remarks (which his siblings would heartily appreciate), he would wait, and if she didn’t choose to get snatched up by some foreign prince, maybe he would throw his hat into the ring.

The vision of loveliness that met his eyes after he made the final turn on the final poky little stair didn’t help the captain’s lungs regain their functionality—Nora in her pretty new gown covered in cherries, with her curling black hair and dark blue eyes, and her truly lovely complexion, biting her lower lip with snow-white teeth as she consulted some sort of ladies’ magazine. 

Disregarding his shortness of breath, he rapped smartly on the doorway.  

Nora looked up with a distracted air but smiled when she realised who had interrupted her reading.

“Miss Reeves,” he wheezed politely.

She laughed. “Castleford stairs take some getting used to.”

He bowed. “And here I hoped you wouldn’t notice how far from fighting fit I am.”

Nora eyed his trim figure with irony, but all she said was, “Indeed.”

“You’re not going to reassure me? Heartless.”

“I’m sure all the ladies of the ton pander shamelessly to your vanity already, so I will refrain from joining their number.”

“I’m truly not as popular as all that,” he reassured her. “Especially among young ladies. Remember, I’m just an untitled gentleman’s poor younger son.”

“Not popular? In this day and age, I thought being handsome and wearing a red coat was enough to overcome even the most mercenary heart.”

He smiled. “That was the case, of course, but I no longer wear coats of that colour, and am now out of fashion.” 

“You truly are to be pitied, then.” After she had given him enough time to absorb the fact that she was alone, and he still didn’t leave, she invited him to sit, and he settled onto the couch adjacent to hers. “Now, Captain, tell me what’s on your mind.” 

“I don’t intend to bother you for long, or pry into personal matters, but I’ve just seen the Duchess. She was very upset.”

Nora sighed. “Poor Helen. You know Lord Richard left a few days ago, and she’s taking it very hard.”

Devon remembered finding Helen crying in the window enclosure a few days previously. “Of course. It is plain to see that she is very attached to her uncle. But I’m not quite sure this was that.”

“Then your friend has been bullying her,” Nora said with severe disapproval.

“Come, Miss Reeves, your friend is made of sterner stuff than that.”

She smiled. “Perhaps she is. So why do you think she was upset?”

“I have no theories,” he said, standing up. “I merely wanted to sound the alarm.”

Before he could leave the room, she grabbed his coat sleeve, startling him. “Thank you,” she said with a warm inflection that was free from her usual teasing. He smiled down at her for a moment until, bantering tone firmly back in place, she said, “Now I think you deserve a compliment, so I will admit that I admire your waistcoat. Is it new?”

“I was hoping you would notice. It’s from my sister Beatrice. She’s just sent me a series of intrusive missives, and whenever she thinks she has pestered me beyond endurance, she tries to palliate her nosiness with handsome gifts. Fortunately, she married a rich man. I’ll introduce her to you someday; she’s impossible to explain.”

Norah’s POV:

Nora smiled, but it was a little forced. Hitherto, she had enjoyed Captain Ferris’s company immensely, and he was just the sort of amusing but kind-hearted man that she felt it was safe to flirt with. He had a lively sense of humour and was eager to please any lady in his presence, but he was not the sort to importune a defenceless female, nor did she think he would fall in love with any pretty face, and so she had allowed a certain intimacy to develop. 

They were both in similar, odd positions. 

If Helen and Piers’ union had been a love match, Devon and Nora’s presence at Castleford would have been very much de trop, but under the current circumstances, Nora thought she and the captain had a certain responsibility to provide some comic relief to the new couple. By the sympathetic twinkle that was often in his eyes when their gazes met, she felt that her co-conspirator had come to the same conclusion and was enjoying the unusual circumstances. Now she wondered if she had allowed the captain too much familiarity.

He was usually so careful; it was unlike a man of his character to put her in the position of being alone with him. He was either assuming that her employment proved her to be so far from his social equal that she would not expect him to treat her as a lady—which didn’t fit in with his respectful, yet playful treatment of her—or, was it possible that he was actually considering making her an offer of marriage? 

Nora hadn’t wasted any time considering the captain as a likely prospective husband. Of course, she liked him. What woman wouldn’t? With his smiling green eyes, handsome profile, and that beautifully thick brown hair with a reddish cast to it…

But the personable bosom friend of a landed duke was not her future; not even if he was poor, or an untitled gentleman’s younger son. A prince could fall in love with a goose girl in a play or novel, but in real life, the by-blow of a social pariah had even less standing than the honest farmer’s daughter from those kinds of tales. 

Nora knew her true position in polite society. Although her parentage was not common knowledge, she would never accept an offer of marriage from a man who didn’t know the truth.

“I don’t know why I would ever meet your sister,” she finally responded to his provocative statement, “but I do understand. Sisters are special, yet infuriating creatures.”

He smiled. “You never mentioned that you have any, Miss Reeves.”

“Well,” she said after a pause, “yes, but not to speak of. I’m afraid I am the illegitimate byproduct of an extramarital affair, and I have many half-siblings.”

He raised his eyebrows and said coolly, “I knew I liked you, Miss Reeves, but now I also admire your bravery and honesty very much.”

“Nonsense,” she said, blushing and looking away. “I thought you ought to know, in case you were getting any ideas.”

“I am,” he admitted, frankly.

“Well, don’t,” she snapped back. “I have just told you why that would be impossible.”

“Then I’m afraid your revelation did not have its intended effect.”

“You should not be in here,” she said after another short pause, picking up her magazine and diving back into its contents.

The illustration in Nora’s line of vision—a topsy-turvy, impossibly willowy figure in a fur-trimmed pelisse—blurred and swam into a meaningless blob, and once she was certain the captain had left the room, she cast the periodical aside to apply her eyes to her handkerchief instead.

  1. This scene is outside the carriage after the travellers leave the inn on their way to Bellême. Nora is now on horseback with Devon, and Piers is riding in the chaise with Helen.

As the breeze playfully tousled Nora’s curls, she expressed a deep sigh. It was marvellous to be out of that stuffy carriage. Helen had been right. She felt worlds better.

In her peripheral vision, Nora caught Captain Ferris’s horse Trooper edging forward; Destrier’s stride automatically lengthened to keep just slightly ahead of the dark roan horse. Nora smiled in sympathy, but tightened her hold on the reins a little. They dropped back, and once again matched pace with the Captain.

“You’re a magnificent rider.” He looked at her with approval. 

“Pish posh.”

“A cavalryman doesn’t make these kinds of comments lightly,” he insisted, with a twinkle in his green eyes. “I can’t fathom the way you ladies manage to keep your seats in those preposterous side saddles. I’m not sure I approve.”

She leaned towards him, forgetting her campaign to hold him at a distance. “Do you want to know a secret?”

His eyes blazed with laughter. “Always.”

“If no one is likely to see me, I ride astride with a split skirt at home. Side saddles are ridiculous. Though I’m willing to use one if it means I can ride in public.”

“I do like a woman with secrets.” 

He seemed to run an appreciative eye over her, and she returned the favour. He was handsome and virile, and his muscular figure showed to a decided advantage in the saddle. His eyes still laughed, his lean cheeks were flushed, and his hair was disordered by the wind. Nora almost wished herself an artist, so she could immortalise the picture of strength and manliness he presented.

 Then he abruptly changed the subject. “How do you think our Duke and Duchess’s marriage is progressing?”

Nora shook her head in amusement. “Captain Ferris, you are a bit of a marplot.”

“I wish you would call me Devon.”

“Certainly not! You’ll have to go on wishing.”

He smiled. “Thank you, I will.”

At this infuriating piece of impertinence, Nora finally allowed Destrier to have his head for a short gallop. When she had recovered her equilibrium, she looked back to gauge the length of her separation from the party. Her heart leapt in her throat as Captain Ferris and Trooper thundered toward her with a huge grin stretching across his handsome face. He took off his hat and waved it in delight as he laughed.

“Miss Reeves,” Captain Ferris began, voice dripping with glee. Then he chortled, took a deep breath, and tried again. “Miss Reeves, I beg you will go peek in the chaise window.”

Nora cast him an uncertain look but pulled Destrier aside and kept him to a trot to allow the carriage to pull even. A sweet warmth spread through her veins like honey at the sight of her sister and the Duke snuggled up together. A laugh burst through her lips as well, and she hastened to catch up with the auburn-haired ne’er-do-well smiling at her with inappropriate fondness.

She tried to harden her heart, because, despite his quip about liking secrets, Nora was harbouring another one—a piece of unhappy knowledge that even Helen would be shocked to learn. It would surely convince the Captain that a marriage between them would be impossible, but as she would rather not divulge it, she would need to dissuade him by other means.

That’s all we have for you for now! If you would be interested in reading an entire novella about Nora and Devon, please comment below (or feel free to message us on socials), and let us know!

P.S. If you would like to leave a review for Helen of Castleford (and we would be very thankful if you did) please do so here! <3


  • Sue Sheppard

    I would like to read the novella about Nora and Devon. Helen’s story was cute.

    • Blue

      Excellent, thank you! We’ll be sure let you know if we finish one. 🙂

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