A Foreign Affair

A Foreign Affair by Evelyn Richardson

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Authors: Evelyn Richardson
Tags: Regency Romance
believe your years in the Peninsula must have given you a very broad knowledge of people in general. Surely you must have been in many situations where your ability to judge a person was critical. Undoubtedly you became rather good at it over time, so I will allow myself to trust your judgement and say thank you, I think, for your positive opinion of me.” “And thank you for trusting my judgment.” The humorous twinkle in his eyes warmed her in a way she had rarely, if ever experienced. It made her feel extraordinarily close to a man she had only just met, a man she had not spoken to more than once or twice, a man she had been prepared to dislike on her well-established principle that any man who aspired to be one of her mother’s admirers was shallow and superficial. Yet this man made her feel understood and appreciated in a way no one else had. “You are welcome, Major.”
    Her smile transformed her face, he thought. By the strictest conventional standards, it was not a beautiful face, not like her mother’s at any rate. The cheekbones were a little too prominent and the large hazel eyes with their thick dark lashes were almost too large for it, but it was a face that radiated intelligence and humor. Most men, and most women for that matter, did not necessarily find such a combination attractive, however, he found it oddly compelling. It was a face with character, a face that told even the most casual observer that a thoughtful and interesting mind lived behind it. But above all, it was the humor lurking in the ironic half smile, the twinkle in the eye that told anyone who cared to think about it that its owner, while she might be a serious person with serious interests, was under no illusions about herself in particular or life in general.
     

Chapter Nine
     
    By now they had reached the pavilion where the troops that had marched down the alley were seating themselves at the enormously long tables arranged in the shape of a star. Sergeants from each regiment were distributing bowls of soup among their men as well as platters heaped high with pork, beef, and fritters, all accompanied with generous servings of wine.
    Brett and Helena watched as the emperor and the tsar, standing together in the balcony looking out over the tables, raised their glasses in a toast to the thousands of men seated below.
    It was an awe-inspiring moment, and Helena felt a lump rise in her throat. Her eyes misted over as she looked at the sea of men in front of her, veterans all of them from the wars with the French. Some had the grizzled faces of battle-hardened soldiers while some still had the fresh soft features of boys; but all bore the signs of war, whether it was in their grave expressions, the scar here, the empty sleeve there, or the crutches scattered throughout the crowd.
    Seeing them brought the memories flooding back to her, memories of wounded stragglers she had tried to help back in Hohenbachern, of peasants watching as their larders were stripped bare, their livestock pilfered, and their crops burned by foraging armies. Friend or enemy, it had made no difference to the local villagers    who had lost the fruits of their labor to hungry soldiers and faced the cruelty of winter without provisions.
    “And I hope that this is truly the end of it all.” Helena did not even realize she had spoken aloud until she saw Brett looking at her in some surprise.
    “You do not think that it is? Surely we are all tired of war?”
    “The soldiers, perhaps, but there are those to whom power is more important than peace, and, believe me, they are even now prepared to go back to war if they do not get what they want in this peace and if we cannot convince them not to, which is why I spend my time reading political pamphlets and attending the Princess von Furstenberg’s soirees. I am trying to help convince them not to, trying to keep them from fighting from all that terrible . . .” She could not go on.
    “Are you all right. Miss

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