doubt that she was disappointed in you, Miss Holland, as much as she must have been with her employer,” said Sir Frederick. He saw that she was looking puzzled again, and he casually turned the conversation.
Soon he judged it to be time to return Guin home, and he drove back to the town house. “Take their heads, Spencer,” he said to his groom, springing down from the phaeton. He was just giving a hand to Guin to help her down when Lord Holybrooke came strolling around the corner.
“Oh, here is Percy!” exclaimed Guin, her face lighting up at the sight of her twin brother. She jumped down to the pavement and ran to meet Lord Holybrooke. As the two walked back toward Sir Frederick, she was animatedly telling her brother about being able to drive out with Sir Frederick.
“Sir Frederick, I am glad to see you again,” said Lord Holybrooke with his easy dignity.
Sir Frederick returned the greeting, shaking the younger man’s hand. He at once reiterated his offer to take Lord Holybrooke to Tattersall’s with him. The young earl civilly declined, though with obvious regret.
“I came home only to change since I am engaged to a party of friends and must meet them within the hour,” said Lord Holybrooke. He grinned boyishly at Sir Frederick. “The thing of it is, sir, there is to be a mill.”
“Oh, no, Percy! You cannot be going to a horrid fist-fight!” exclaimed Guin, stepping back so that she could look into her brother’s face. “How can you like such a thing?”
The two men exchanged glances, complete understanding passing between them. A lady could not be expected to comprehend the fascinated draw that a round of fisticuffs had on the male of the species.
“Another time, then, my lord,” said Sir Frederick easily. He said good-bye to Guin and her brother, and climbed back up into the phaeton. His groom let go of the horses’ heads and leaped up behind. Sir Frederick nodded his head in farewell and drove away.
He had been given much to ponder about Miss Holland. She was a surprising female, he reflected. He had originally taken her for little more than a lovely dormouse. Then he had perceived there was more to her personality and had attempted, with a modicum of success, to draw her out. Today he had discovered that she had a well-educated mind. Not only that, but she was probably every bit as versatile as he was himself in several languages.
A few streets over, he saw his friend Mr. Henry Duckwood standing on the walkway. Mr. Duckwood was waving to him, so Sir Frederick pulled over to the curb. “Going my way, Henry?”
“Wherever you wish, dear fellow,” said Mr. Duckwood, stepping up into the phaeton and disposing himself comfortably on the narrow leather seat.
Sir Frederick guided the phaeton back into the traffic. Casting a knowledgeable gaze over his friend, he said, “You are looking elegant today, Henry. Is that a new coat?”
Mr. Duckwood sprawled carelessly on the phaeton’s seat. He lovingly smoothed his sleeve. “You’ve discerned it, Freddy. I had it from Weston this morning. I am very pleased with it. Where are you headed? If you are going to Tattersall’s or the park, I have half a mind to accompany you.”
“Tattersall’s it is, then, for I have already exercised my horses by driving with Miss Holland,” said Sir Frederick, turning a corner with neat skill.
Mr. Duckwood abandoned his lazy attitude and sat up. His fawn’s eyes were at ones filled with concern. “Holland? Isn’t she the chit that Caroline Richardson introduced you to?” He shook his head. “Freddy, Freddy! I warned you, and what must you do but run your head straight into the noose.”
Sir Frederick shook his head. “It isn’t like that, Henry. I feel sorry for Miss Holland. Mrs. Holland is a regular tartar and abuses her. So I have been paying Miss Holland a bit of attention, just to get her confidence in herself built up a trifle.”
Mr. Duckwood morosely shook his head. “Dangerous, Freddy,