Mayhem in Bath

Mayhem in Bath by Sandra Heath Read Free Book Online

Book: Mayhem in Bath by Sandra Heath Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sandra Heath
Tags: Regency Romance
Being a sly old skinflint seemed a perfectly acceptable guise for Halloween.
    “Me? Oh, nothing. Fancy dress is optional.”
    “What a spoilsport, to be sure,” she murmured, and then turned the conversation to the contentious but important subject of Lord Benjamin Beddem’s marital intentions. “Uncle, I know you hope to marry me off to Lord Benjamin, so you may as well accept that I will never marry him.”
    “We’ll see, my dear, we’ll see.”
    “No, Uncle, we won’t.”
    “But just think of the Beddem fortune, Polly, to say nothing of the fact that  you may one day be a duchess,” he said, perplexed that any sensible young woman could turn down such a grand opportunity for advancement.
    “Only if the duke’s firstborn forfeits his life as well as his fortune,” she pointed out. “And we only have Lord Benjamin’s word about being left the fortune. He is so disreputable a fellow that I doubt if he dares to even trust himself. You, Uncle, are the only one to credit him with any semblance of honesty.
    “He would hardly lie about such a thing.”
    “Why not? He has his eye upon my fortune! Uncle, he knows you won’t question a single aristocratic word that falls from his lips, and so feels at liberty to say anything he chooses!” A thought occurred to her. “Has he cozened you for money in recent weeks?” She was thinking about the costly page of Nostradamus.
    “No.” Hordwell changed the subject “Are you intending to stay a while?”
    “In Bath, yes, but not in this house.”
    “What nonsense. Of course you must stay here!”
    “I hardly think it would be appropriate. Uncle.”
    “I insist that if you are in Bath, you lodge here,” he said firmly.
    “Uncle—”
    “That is the end of it.”
    Polly felt a little like a worm on a hook. “Aren’t you being a little free with the Duke of Lawless’s hospitality. Uncle?”
    “If Benjamin were here, he would insist as well.”
    “Oh, yes, I’m sure he would, but his motives would be questionable, would they not?”
    “I do wish you wouldn’t keep denigrating him, my dear, for he isn’t the monster you seem to think.”
    “No, he’s worse, and I refuse absolutely to stay beneath his roof.”
    “He isn’t even here,” Hordwell pointed out.
    “I know, but—”
    “Polly, it would distress me a great deal if you were to stay elsewhere. It would not be seemly, and would reflect very poorly upon me. I am your guardian, or had you forgotten?”
    “That’s blackmail. Uncle.”
    “To be sure, and very necessary, too.”
    She considered a moment. As Lord Benjamin was absent, surely it would be all right for her to stay? She made a hasty decision. “If you insist. Uncle, but I only wish to remain in Bath until I’ve found Bodkin and convinced him that neither you nor Lord Benjamin have Nutmeg imprisoned somewhere. If I still haven’t found him by Halloween, I will remove to an inn or hotel, and nothing you say or do will change my mind.”
    “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” he warned, but then gave a satisfied smile. “I’m glad you’re here, my dear, for it means I have the use of a carriage again. Did I mention that the large carriage is being repaired?”
    “No.”
    “It’s most inconvenient, oh, not for the cure, to which I am conducted by means of a sedan chair, but certainly for everything else. For instance, apart from the Halloween junketing at Sydney Gardens, there is a ball at the Assembly Rooms the day after tomorrow, again attended by the Duke and Duchess of York. By the way, Polly, did you know that four years ago the Duke of York took this very house?” He indicated the portrait above the mantelshelf. “Just imagine—we are guests beneath the very roof that once sheltered a prince of the blood.”
    “I am in awe,” she murmured.
    He frowned disapprovingly, for he found it astonishing that she was not as impressed as he by royal or noble blood. Putting her failings down to a lack of correct

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