Yesterday, I had the very good fortune to take tea with Lady Flora Carlton and her youngest brother, Perry, and I thought I would take this opportunity to relay the content of our cozy tête-à-tête to you.
“How fares your dear brother so recently returned from war?” I asked, when the opportunity arose. I was eager to hear news of Edward, who now, owing to his father’s demise, found himself to be the new Earl of Sinclair.
“I do believe he is improving,” stated Flora. “No sooner did I hear of his injuries than I decided Carlton could fare well enough without me and I hastened to Fly Hall resolute to be at my dear brother’s side. I was determined to nurse him in his hour of need.”
Perry looked his disgust at his sister’s words. “Edward needs no nursing and well you know it, Flora. Your overzealous attentions drive him demented.”
“You overstate the case,” snapped Flora. “How can you, a mere boy, understand how the loss of an arm can affect a man? Not only the loss of his arm but also the loss of his intended! I will not have it said that I neglect my dear brother.”
“It was by mutual agreement that they ended their betrothal and as for the loss of his arm, he copes exceedingly well. You are such a female Flora! A chap has no need for coddling and doesn’t wish for it.”
Flora bridled, annoyance showing in every line. “I’m sure that if my presence is unwelcome, Edward would have found a way to tell me so.”
At this point, to Flora’s utter dismay, Perry’s large mastiff-like dog lolloped into the room. His entrance had been facilitated by an unsuspecting footman who, having found him wandering the hallway looking for his master, had thoughtfully opened the door for him.
“Take him out! Take him out,” demanded Flora, flapping her hands in the dog’s direction. “I will not have our visitor upset by that great brute. Whatever must she think of such unruly behavior!”
As I hastened to assure her that the dog was most welcome to stay, Perry caught his collar and proceeded to drag the unwilling animal toward the door way. Opening the door, he pushed the wayward canine through and with a rebellious glance over his shoulder, quickly followed in its wake, closing the door none-too-gently behind him.
With a sigh, Flora sat back in her chair, folding her hands demurely in her lap.
“Thank goodness that irritating boy has gone,” she said, relief heavy in her voice. “Now I can tell you my main concern for Edward without the fear of constant interruption. Of course, I see that physically he improves every day but it is his foolish intention never to marry that greatly concerns me. I cannot believe a man of his intelligence cannot see the advantages of taking a wife. I am completely out of patience with him. He is my brother and I love him dearly but I can quite understand Jenny’s point of view. I do believe that it is not the loss of his arm that drove her to also end the betrothal. He is a man of considerable address and it would have taken such little effort on his part to woo the girl, albeit from a distance.
She is young and young girls have romantic notions and expect that sort of thing from a man. Indeed, my own dear Carlton was most attentive, and still is… but I digress…”
Sitting forward, she offered to refill my teacup, but I politely refused and, assuring her I was quite in sympathy with her cause, encouraged her to continue with her narrative.
Relaxing once more into her chair, she continued, “If he is able, it is my intention to persuade Edward to join us in London for the season. He was always a favorite with the hostesses so I need not fear he will be overlooked. Perhaps, in time, he will change his mind and start to look amongst society’s beauties for a wife. He need not fear rejection. He is handsome enough and his fortune rivals any in the land. Once it is known that he enters the marriage mart, there will be a surfeit of mama’s eager to put their daughters in his way.”
“What of Lady Jennifer?” I asked. “Do you think she will reconsider her decision not to wed? It is rumored that her disgraceful brother, Hawley, is all eagerness to see her away from under his roof as he aspires to enter the married state and wishes the house for himself and his bride alone.”
Flora nodded. “I can’t help but feel for the girl,” she said quietly. “She is in an unenviable situation. Now that the engagement is ended, that unscrupulous older brother of hers will not hesitate to throw suitors at her head. Being an heiress definitely has its disadvantages. Any and all fortune hunters will beat a path to her door and Hawley will deny not a one of them.”
There was the sound of voices in the hallway and immediately Flora recognized the tones of the Earl of Sinclair.
“Edward is here,” she said straightening in her chair. “Not a word to him of our conversation.”