The Inheritance

The Inheritance by Joan Johnston Read Free Book Online

Book: The Inheritance by Joan Johnston Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joan Johnston
helped my pa raise me.”
    Daisy wanted desperately to ask what had happened to Colin’s mother, but bit her tongue on the question. “Where is Simp now?” she asked instead.
    “He stayed home in Texas to keep an eye on the livestock.” Colin grinned. “Said he wasn’t about to set foot off dry land.”
    Daisy liked Nicholas’s son. The young man had a bright, open face and seemed forthright and honest. How had His Grace managed to raise such a friendly son when he was so cold himself? Perhaps Simp—what an odd name—was responsible for Colin’s cheerful outlook on life.
    Daisy took Colin on a quick tour of the grounds around Severn Manor, showing off the green rollinghills and the nearby forest that provided a haven for larger game.
    “These rolling hills aren’t so very different from the ones where I live,” Colin said. “Except the land here is more … tame. I don’t know exactly how to explain it. Nothing grows wild here, like it does back home. It all seems … cultivated. You’ve got hedges and stone walls hemming you in. Texas is all wide open spaces. Does that make sense?”
    “Yes, it does,” Daisy replied. Apparently the land in America was no more civilized than the people living on it. She kept her thoughts to herself. She had no wish to insult Colin with her opinion of the colonies.
    Colin was impressed with Rockland Park, the ancestral home of the Earls of Rotherham. “It’s amazing how the ivy grows over the stone on the house like that. It looks almost like a castle with all those odd shapes at the top.”
    “It looks like a castle because it was a castle, once upon a time,” Daisy said, observing the gray stonework that was shaped into crenels along the topmost edge of the house.
    “Really? No fooling?” Colin’s jaw hung slack. “A real castle. Jehoshaphat! Wait’ll I tell Simp about this!”
    Even though Daisy wasn’t expected, Priss had the butler immediately usher her and Colin to the drawing room, where she was waiting for them.
    Daisy always had to choke back a laugh when she entered Priss’s drawing room, for the countess constantly filled it with every new decorating idea that came into vogue or that might have been in vogue at some time during the past. Right now the sofa hadcrocodile arms and feet, and the lamp tables were covered with red cloths fringed in gold. Actually, nearly everything in the room sported a fringe or ruffles, including the heavy, wine-colored velvet curtains. Priss had adopted the cluttered look that was popular, and every bit of space on the walls was covered by some piece of framed art.
    Daisy had to confess that the flamboyant decorations matched Priss’s personality. Part of the reason she liked Priss so much was that her friend never based her decisions on what other people thought. She was true to her own muse.
    Daisy envied her that freedom but had no desire to emulate her. She would have felt suffocated living in such crowded surroundings. Instead, she had chosen the furnishings at Severn for their simplicity and comfort. She ignored the trends and kept the furniture to a minimum so every room felt spacious. She not only had no heavy velvet curtains on her windows, several rooms had no curtains at all. Sunlight was allowed to stream in and brighten the space.
    Daisy’s attention was drawn back to the matter at hand when Priss spoke.
    “Who’s this?” she asked, surveying Colin critically.
    “May I present Mr. Colin Calloway, from America. This is my friend, the Countess of Rotherham.”
    Colin practiced his bow again and did a very creditable job of it.
    “Well done,” Daisy praised.
    Colin grinned. “I may just get the hang of this before I return home.”
    Which reminded Daisy why she had sought out her friend. Colin and his father were planning to bein England only long enough to liquidate the duke’s assets. Then they would be returning to Texas. Daisy was wondering how she was going to manage a private conversation with

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