No one knew how much she esteemed the savvy gentleman
“What say you, Mama, of reacquainting yourself with Georgiana?” Lizzy asked.
Mama swept a glance about the room, stopping when she spied the Duchess.
“She still looks the same.”
“Of course, Mama. Elevated rank does not change a person’s personality. They remain ever so much the same. How people treat them is what undergoes a shift. Something you will learn as you and Papa move forward as Lord and Lady Bennet.”Mary suppressed a smile at her elder sister’s gentle rebuke. It was apparent that some news had filtered out concerning Mama being none too subtle in her public preening. Being in the company of true nobility might settle her feathers into their rightful place. Even the peacock didn’t strut his feathers every time he walked in Regent’s Park.
The conversation came to a halt when the butler announced dinner was ready to be served.
“Should we ask Louisa to wait a few more minutes for Richard?” Mr. Darcy asked Lizzy.
Mary’s heart skipped a beat at the mention of Darcy’s cousin. She’d had no hint he would be in attendance. No one knew how much she esteemed the savvy gentleman, and knowing full well he needed to marry up, she always behaved as though he were nothing more than a pleasant companion at dinner. Anything more and her fragile composure would shatter.
“I think not. Something must have delayed his departure. I will ask Louisa if their cook can set aside some food in case he arrives within the hour.”
Louisa Hurst gave Maxwell Kerr, the Duke of Adborough, a slight nod, and he and Georgiana took the lead going into the dining hall.
Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam walked toward the posting inn and slapped his riding glove against his leg in frustration. Everything that could go wrong on this trip to Hertfordshire had gone wrong. He’d left late because his brother, Viscount Ashton, descended upon his lodgings the evening prior and dragged him to White’s, at which point they’d imbibed in far too much brandy, followed by a visit to Madame Fournier’s establishment. He’d awakened in one of her many bedrooms, sheets wrapped around his naked torso and legs.
His cursed brother was nowhere to be found and so he’d hailed a hack back to Matlock House in order to prepare for his departure. The lingering effects of too much drink and lack of sleep made him dizzy, which caused him to bump the washbasin his batman used for shaving water. Both he and Grandon had watched, mute, as the porcelain bowl tipped and sudsy, whiskered water drenched his new fawn breeches. By the time he’d changed and reassured the terrified man he would not be sent back to the front lines, it was almost noon before he escaped Town.