Lady Whistledown: The Crown now has a crisis on its hands. A crisis one can only imagine that Queen Charlotte must find galling after ruling over the matchmaking efforts of the ton and the marriage mart with such an iron fist. This author and all of England can only hope that Queen Charlotte finally turns her matchmaking energies onto her own family. After all, her majesty has 13 children and now, not a royal heir from any of them. At least, not a legitimate one. It causes one to wonder. Is the queen's knowledge of how to make a good marriage nothing but talk?
Lady Whistledown (now in Pen's voice): It has been said that silence can wield more power than words. No one knows that better than me. It is in silence where one may find truth. All one has to do, I suppose... is listen for it. I know there will always be times when silence is necessary. And, of course, times when it is not. (back to the original voice): Gentle reader, you thought I was silenced, but you thought wrong. And if there is one thing you should know by now, it is that this author cannot keep quiet for long. Yours truly, Lady Whistledown.
Penelope Featherington: I am certain you will find your purpose one day. Everyone must eventually.
Colin Bridgerton: Have you found yours?
Penelope Featherington: Of course not. But I imagine it to be something both animating and satisfying. The type of venture that speaks not to who I am but rather who I am to be. My purpose will challenge me to be brave and witty. My purpose will propel me far beyond the watchful glare of my mama. My purpose shall set me free.
Colin Bridgerton: What could possibly measure up to all that?
Lady Whistledown: A march down the aisle may very well be the longest walk any young lady ever takes. It does not simply cover the length of the church, but rather, countless floors for dancing, and meandering paths for every afternoon promenade too. It is a wonder, then, that feet do not tire or, heaven forbid, trip under the scrutiny of all those attentive eyes keeping close watch, indeed.
Lady Whistledown: Duty. More than laws or faith, I have often thought it the bond that holds our fragile society together. Duty to rank and title. Fidelity to one's family name. It demands both utter obedience and total sacrifice. But what happens when such duty is in conflict with the heart's true desire? Why, then, there is the potential for a considerable scandal, indeed. The only question is, will the parties in question heed my warning? Or is it already too late to turn back to duty and away from desire?
Colin Bridgerton: So I cleared my head, swore off women and love, and... Well, I only wanted to fully understand myself before stepping back into this world.
Penelope Featherington: You've sworn off women, then?
Colin Bridgerton: Well, for the time being.
Penelope Featherington: I am a woman.
Colin Bridgerton: You are Pen. You do not count. You are my friend.
Penelope Featherington: Of course. Your friend. How good to hear that.
Colin Bridgerton: I was not exactly lonely on my travels. I did begin a real conversation with someone. Someone I had known for a very long time. And yet, after everything that happened with Miss Thompson, I realized I never truly knew this person at all. Myself.
Penelope Featherington: Yourself?
Colin Bridgerton: I have you to thank. Your letters were so encouraging. I thought, if Penelope can see me this way, then surely I can too.
Lady Whistledown: While this author finds Miss Edwina Sharma to be an exceptional young lady, it is about time I used these pages of record for something else. A shift. Is the entire practice of naming a diamond not... well, rather ridiculous? Should a woman not be valued for so much more than her dancing skills or her comportment? Should we not value a woman instead for her candor, her character, her true accomplishments? Perhaps if the queen abandoned this absurdity that is the diamond, we would all see that a woman can be so much more.