The Flight of Swallows

The Flight of Swallows by Audrey Howard Read Free Book Online

Book: The Flight of Swallows by Audrey Howard Read Free Book Online
Authors: Audrey Howard
Tags: Fiction, Historical, Sagas
she thought only she would be aware of it. But then she of them all knew her father best.
    ‘The last Saturday in June, Roly, but never fear you will receive your invitation in good time, will he not, Arthur?’ She smiled roguishly at her fiancé.
    ‘Indeed, my dear. The guest list is already drawn up. Sir Clive and Lady Parker have been given the names of those I would like included so all is going forward as it should. I’m afraid my side of the family will not be well represented since I am the only son of an only son but I’m sure Elizabeth will more than make up the numbers, won’t you, my love. My children will attend the service but not the reception. My youngest son is only six years old, you see, but Charlotte, of course, will be there.’
    ‘And will you be a bridesmaid, Miss Drummond?’ the elderly lady, whose name Charlotte could not remember, asked her.
    Charlotte clutched about her for an answer since she had not really been told by . . . by Elizabeth whether she would or not. She had so many friends and relatives who were all longing to play the role, Elizabeth had implied, but when she looked desperately to her father for help he merely sipped his wine and smiled.
    ‘I’m not absolutely . . .’ she began.
    ‘The roses will be at their peak then and surely a June bride will want roses in her bouquet,’ a quiet voice beside her said and at once the ladies all began to twitter on what kind of flowers they had had at their wedding or what they hoped to have when they married and the subject of Charlotte’s part in the wedding ceremony was forgotten.
    She turned to Brooke Armstrong and gave him a grateful smile of such brilliance he had to turn away lest he be seen with the expression on his face of the deep, welling, growing emotion she aroused in him. Deep, yes, ever since he had first seen her playing with his dogs at the edge of the wood, deep and hidden in the unfathomable complexity of his nature which even he could not understand. Growing with the dawn of each day when he woke up with her in his mind as she had been in his night dreams. He had seen her only twice, both in the lovely environment of nature’s bounty when she had been herself with nothing to hide from him, again responding to the appeal of an animal. The puppy he meant to give her at the first opportunity. The pup he had saved from Dottie’s litter not even knowing at the time why he had done so. He loved her as a man, a mature man who has known women from the age of fifteen but had never loved until now. He had known in that secret part of him that no one had ever reached that one day she would come, that woman who had been created just for him, which sounded as foolish as a schoolboy with his first love, and now she was here, still a child in many ways, but when she was ready he would claim her and he had told Arthur Drummond that, well, not all of it, but that he wished to – what was the word? – court his daughter and the man had given his permission and had promised not to speak of it to her. He did not wish her to be frightened by his sudden declaration of love and he had said so to the cynical, worldly wise man who was her father.
    As he turned away from her he found Arthur Drummond’s eyes upon him and was infuriated when the man gave him a small nod as though of approval. Surely the man wasn’t going to reveal what they had discussed earlier in the week.
    The meal was splendid for Mrs Welsh was a superb cook. Asparagus soup followed by lobster pudding, boiled capon with white sauce, lobster salad and to finish charlotte russe, vanilla cream, gooseberry tartlets, custards, cheesecake, cabinet pudding and iced pudding, and a selection of ices. There were wines to match each course and, to celebrate the occasion, champagne.
    ‘No wine for Miss Charlotte,’ her father told the butler, Watson, in a loud voice, drawing all eyes to her and the fact that despite her inclusion in this evening’s celebration she was,

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