Lady Elizabeth's Comet

Lady Elizabeth's Comet by Sheila Simonson Read Free Book Online

Book: Lady Elizabeth's Comet by Sheila Simonson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sheila Simonson
Tags: Romance, Historical Romance, Regency Romance
How's Tom? He's not dead!"
    I collected my wits. "No. He's recovering. I just nursed him through a very bad bout.
With Sims's help," I added, conscientiously. "But Bevis, I said nothing of an illness in my
letter."
    "No." He looked grim. "I could tell. I was afraid something was amiss when Tom didn't
write me from Brecon. How bad was it? Climb up, Liz. Is he paralysed this time?"
    "He's not paralysed, and I suspect he's asleep right now." I scrambled up beside Bevis.
"Turn round and drive to the Dower House, Bevis. I'll explain what I know, then you can go on
to Brecon. I daresay Clanross will be glad of your company."
    I left Bevis to Jean and the recovered Maggie, who plied him with good things in the
withdrawing room while I freshened up and changed into a clean gown. I did not look forward to
apologising to Bevis for my satires. I dawdled. Finally, when I reckoned his impatience to see his
friend must have mounted to its original height, I went slowly down the stairs.
    Bevis is too great a gentleman to betray irritation with a female. He rose and greeted me,
complimenting me on my looks. He even insisted that I take tea and chatted with Alice and the
girls until I had done so.
    Then he said firmly, "I must speak with Lady Elizabeth alone, Mrs. Finch, and I know
you will not object, such old friends as we are."
    I objected, but silently. Alice, of course, was rosy from the effects of superb
manners and judicious compliments. She would probably have allowed Bevis to drag me out by
the hair.
    "Come, girls." She beamed at Bevis. "Monsieur will be arriving in no time. Let us go up
to the schoolroom."
    When the twins groaned and rolled their eyes, Bevis leapt up and kissed their hands in
turn, paying them extravagant compliments in vile French, and they swept from the room in a
gale of giggles.
    "Charming vixens."
    "A pair of fire nymphs," I agreed, translating freely. "Paris has not improved your
accent."
    We stared each other out of countenance. It was an old game. Finally he said, lips
twitching, "Ah, Liz, unchanged, I see. Shall you marry me?"
    "Pray excuse me, sir. I am sensible of the honour you do me, but in truth I fear we
should not suit."
    We both laughed a little wildly.
    He sobered first. "Give over, Liz." He pulled a chair beside me.
    "Very well." I sighed. "My letter. I daresay you thought my wits had gone begging,
Bevis. I apologise."
    He waved a dismissing hand. "Oh, that's nothing. I perfectly see how you came to be put
off. Tom's a reserved chap at the best of times."
    "And this wasn't the best of times."
    "That's it. I was not overjoyed when he decided to do the Grand Tour of the Conway
estates. All that jolting in carriages was bound to play the devil with him, and besides it sounded
uncomfortably as if he were putting his affairs in order. He wrote me cheerfully enough from
Scotland."
    I grimaced.
    Bevis eyed me. "He was dashed amusing at your sister's expense."
    I flushed but said nothing. Kitty is a peahen and unfortunately, when she's at all
unnerved, she plays the great lady with preposterous results.
    "Satire must run in the family. I thought you might write me, especially when you found
out that Tom had been working for me--for my father, to be exact--and I was looking forward to
the acid bath. If Tom hadn't stopped writing..."
    "I see," I said doubtfully. So it was Lord Dunarvon, Bevis's papa, who had been the
parvenu nobleman to employ Clanross.
    "What you said about his gait and carriage and--what was it? 'stiff
half-bows'--confirmed my suspicions. It was a dashed fine portrait of Tom with a red hot
ago if the wind had cooperated."
    "So you said. Bevis, why didn't you write me of your friendship with Clanross?"
    He flushed. "Slipped my mind."
    "Nonsense."
    He said slowly, "At first I daresay I didn't see the connexion, for he never spoke of it,
and later I gathered he was not on good terms with your father."
    "I know of no break. Papa procured his commission."
    Bevis shifted in the chair.
    "Out with

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