From Just Say It
Elizabeth Campbell’s only ambition, to marry a wealthy man, just when she thinks a sapphire the size of a duck’s egg is about to placed on her finger, her plans go pear-shaped.
‘Deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.’
Despite not having found the ideal husband, Elizabeth finished 1958 on a high, having been crowned Debutante of the Year for 1958. The title Elizabeth had envisaged, and believed was an excellent addition to her marriageable material CV. Now sharing a flat with two other young ladies from the Debutantes House, she continued to pursue Will around London. Initially, he was flattered, then amused when, after only a handful of meetings, she said,
‘I’ve never met anybody quite like you before, Will. I think I’m falling in love with you,’ while batting her Lana Turner eyelashes with hypnotic effect. If she were expecting him to respond by scooping her up in his arms and proclaiming his undying love for her – like Jeremy would have done she was wrong, but she hadn’t expected him to laugh.
‘My goodness me, Elizabeth! I’ve never met anybody quite like you before either, but you can’t possibly love me, because you barely know me.’
She had been disgruntled at the time, but Elizabeth didn’t give up, the stakes were too high. After Will made the mistake of inviting Elizabeth back to his flat for a drink after a cocktail party, it presented her with the ideal opportunity to make her move.
He flopped on to the sofa next to her, and she turned toward him and, taking advantage of his inebriated state, she straddled his lap and pinning him down. Covering his mouth with hers, he felt he couldn’t breathe. He was way out of his comfort zone but being pounced on by an eighteen-year-old siren with the sexual appetite of a tigress; resistance was futile. If he’d had any doubts about the morality of his seduction, Elizabeth gave him no time to think about it. In the foggy waking moments of his hangover the following day, he dismissed what had happened between them for what it was, drunk sex. It would never happen again. He only had a few weeks left in London, and he would make sure he kept a low profile.
He breathed a sigh of relief when the press started reporting sightings of the glamorous Elizabeth Campbell with the dashing young Duke of Grandborough. Photographs of a smiling Elizabeth, handling the Duke’s twelve bore on the grouse moor at his family’s estate in Yorkshire, their arms linked at a highbrow wedding and ‘à deux’ during a romantic candlelight dinner. Will assumed he was safe; now she had a more high-ranking assignation going on. He was wrong. Twenty-four hours before Will left London for good, his heart sank when Elizabeth arrived on his doorstep wearing a pair of pussycat sunglasses.
‘Why, Elizabeth, how lovely to see you! A late-night was it, last night? The sunglasses I mean. A bit hung-over, are we?’
‘I need to speak to you urgently, Will,’ she pushed past him and slumped on to the sofa. ‘There’s no easy way of telling you this, but I’m pregnant.’ He sat down next to her, putting a reluctant arm around her shoulders.
‘That’s, err, wonderful news Elizabeth. I’m very pleased for you and Jeremy. Or, is it His Lordship? Whichever one it is, I’m sure they are falling over themselves to marry you.’
She pushed him away roughly, snatching the sunglasses away from her face.
‘Jeremy? Grandbo? It was you! You idiot, you’re the one I had that ridiculous one-night stand with! You were all over me like a rampant stallion. There is no question; you are the father. It’s you who needs to marry me!’
Will’s heart accelerated as he pulled away from her.
‘Why me? Why do you automatically assume I’m the father? It’s common knowledge you and Jeremy have been at it for months. And what about the Duke? I assume you’ve slept with him as well. Your reputation goes before you, Elizabeth! I’m going back to Gloucestershire to run the family farm and play polo, not tie myself down with the most insufferable woman in London!’
He stopped his tirade and got up to pour himself a stiff whiskey and, realising he was trembling, knocked it back in one.
‘Damn you, Will! If we are going to make our marriage work, the least you can do is be civil to me. You’re widely regarded as being exceedingly bright. So, you should be able to work it out.’
‘Work out what?’ He turned to glower at her, and hissed ‘insufferable as well as insane,’ before slamming his glass down on to the drinks tray and poured himself another one.
‘The dates, Will, they don’t add up. Not with Jeremy anyway, and Grandbo only wants to walk a virgin up the aisle. He told me to get out when he found out I wasn’t.’ Elizabeth started to sob. ‘He was about to put his grandmother’s engagement ring on my finger. It’s a sapphire… the size of a quail’s egg. Oh, Will, I really thought he was going to be the one. Unfortunately, he’s not interested in marrying a woman with a desecrated hymen, let alone one carrying a developing foetus. My life is ruined, and I never wanted children, and it’s all your fault!’
A few eyebrows were raised at the time, their friends describing their courtship as a whirlwind romance. They hardly know each other! Will Grant, of all people? I don’t believe it! As well as the age-old and uncannily correct assumption: shotgun wedding.
They met and barely scratched the surface of getting to know each other, before marrying at Westminster Register Office and taking up residence at Silkwoods together.