Chapter One

“It falls to me to inform you that your mother and I have identified a suitable husband for you,” sniffed The 7th Duke of Burlington. “You are engaged herewith to Lord Coldfish of Leching—and let no more be said on the matter!”

Lady Sarah had never felt so completely alone nor so utterly wretched. Impetuously, she threw back her rebellious mop of red hair, letting it tumble wild and loose down her back.

She felt all the bubbles drain from her personality. In the past, all her friends had told her how bubbly she was. “But now I have never felt so totally unbubbly!” she sobbed.

Would she ever possess a sufficiency of bubbles to pen another adorable, much-loved tale about Budgie the Coach-and-Four to gladden the hearts of little children the world over?

“Here I am, a beautiful young 19th-century aristocrat with a heart of gold and a gift for making everyone feel so, so special—yet I myself am so utterly lost!” she sighed, sighingly.

And with that, she fled through the back door of her family’s hugely impressive multi-million dollar Mayfair mansion, worth literally millions in old money, complete with fifteen ensuites, luxury wall-to-wall carpeting, and state-of-the-art crystal chandeliers, and ran for all she was worth.

Chapter Two

“Any old iron! Any old iron! Any-any-any old iron!”

Where was she? Blinded by tears, she had run runningly through the streets of London. Her ball gown, sewn from the finest French silk, was in tatters.

“Wh-wh-where am I?” inquired Lady Sarah of a one-legged beggar with an eye patch, a parrot, two teeth, and a heart of gold. The poor man had lost his other leg, through no fault of his own, in the Charge of the Light Brigade, a failed military action involving the British light cavalry led by Lord Cardigan, which had occurred earlier that year.

Please, your ladyship, read some more …

All around her, cheery, sooty-faced chimney sweeps kicked their knees up, stepping in time.

“You’re in London’s famous East End, dearie!” replied a passing prostitute, selling flowers from a grubby wickerwork basket. “Who will buy my sweet red roses? Two blooms for a penny!”

“You are engaged herewith to Lord Coldfish of Leching—and let no more be said on the matter!”

“Ripe pears, ten-a-penny and nar mistake!” shouted a street urchin. “Good luck will rub awf when I shakes ’ands wiv you!”

Seeing a lady of such delicate appearance in their midst, a goodly number of very poor but happy children gathered around, in the hope that ’Er Ladyship, as they delighted in calling her, would read them one of her marvelous stories, leading to rapid improvements in their mental health.

Chapter Three

Lady Sarah had barely begun to read when she was assailed by a Victorian pickpocket in a top hat. “The wretched fellow has made off with my precious handbag!” she exclaimed, exasperatedly.

Luckily at that juncture, the unruly vagabond was tackled by a handsome stranger, who returned the precious handbag.

“Might I perchance introduce my good self heretofore?” he quothed. “Lord Adam de Vere, second son of the Duke of Sutherland, at your service.”

He moved closer, and yet closer. Their lips met. Hungrily, they kissed, and, as they kissed, his tongue touched hers and her tongue touched his, and soon their two tongues grew entangled in each other’s mouths. “Surely,” thought Lord Adam, “we shall forever be bound together.”

“Your Lordship,” sighed Lady Sarah, extricating herself. “You have perchance been inordinately accommodating, for which I am indeed most gratitudinous, but though our relationship is by now, I fear, perchance considerably advanced, I regret I am no longer the impulsive young woman I once was. Though my heart is indeed racing, our love can never flourish given the harsh reality of our respective circumstances, so let us bid our farewells—and think, perchance, no more of what might have been!”

Chapter Four

Breathless and confused, and giddy with love, she brushed the tears from her eyes and made hither to London’s famous docks, to embark forthwith on a voyage to America. The Atlantic Ocean was very, very rough and very, very wet, but thankfully she was not obliged to swim, as she had been most gratefully accommodated on board a seagoing vessel.

“This here be a ship—and a very fine ship at that, Your Ladyship,” said the swarthy Captain, as he gazed into her eyes of deep burgundy.

The soft pressure of his lips on hers made her want to swoon. Their tongues met and clenched, finding a warm spot toward the back of her mouth where they might huddle together for comfort like babes in a wood, perchance.

Miss Liberty.

“That was indeed a most elegant sufficiency, My Lady,” exclaimed the Captain, essaying a smile and wiping his mouth with the discretion of a true gentleman.

“Oh, but it must not be! I fear our love can never flourish given the harsh reality of our respective circumstances!” replied Lady Sarah, sobbingly. And, with that, she tearfully threw herself headfirst into the frantic ocean, only to emerge, absolutely soaking wet, two days later, at the foot of New York’s famous Statue of Liberty—a neoclassical sculpture one hundred and fifty-one feet high, given by France in 1886 to the United States in celebration of American independence.

Chapter Five

“Lady Sarah! This is a most unexpected surprise! How do you do?” It was Lady Astor, who was, forsooth by chance, strolling aristocratically around the statue. “Have you met my handsome eldest son, Randolph, who is, as luck would have it, heir to our distinguished family’s multi-million dollar fortune?”

Sarah gazed deep into Randolph’s eyes, which so closely matched her hair. They kissed, deep, starving kisses, kisses deeper than the very ocean upon which she had voyaged so recently, though not quite so damp. Their tongues met, introduced themselves to one another and embarked on a waltz together around their respective mouths.

“Oh my dear Randolph! It is not to be!” Sarah sighed, as their two mouths parted with a bitter pop. “Alas, our love can never flourish given the harsh reality of our respective circumstances! Tragically, I am most speedily running out of pecuniary resources! But—hark!—I have just had a most splendid idea! I know of a mysterious American financier, much given to holding out the hand of compassion to titled folk down on their luck. Yes! Methinks I shall prevail upon the goodly Mr. Jeffrey Epstein Esq. to put things right—and then all shall be well!”

Craig Brown is a columnist for the Daily Mail and the author of One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time