Judith E. French

Judith E. French by Shawnee Moon

Book: Judith E. French by Shawnee Moon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Shawnee Moon
chamber,” he commanded her. “There’s no need for you to hear this. This is between me and my esteemed parent.”
    “No longer your parent,” his father proclaimed. “I disown you! I’ll have your name removed from the family Bible. By God, if you—if the two of you think to come here and extort money from me, I’ll—”
    “That’s a lie!” Cailin said hotly. “I didna ask to come here. I dinna know why your son brought me to this place. But I want nothing from ye. And from what I ken of him, I doubt he does either.”
    “Don’t dare speak to me, woman,” the baron cried. “Edgar, get her out of—”
    “Don’t touch her, Edgar,” Sterling warned . “She’ll throw you through the window.” He turned on his father. “I have no intention of staying. I only came to retrieve some personal belongings, to arrange to repay some loans with my own savings, and to say goodbye. I’m going to America, and I’m taking my wife with me.”
    “Taking me where ?” Cailin cried.
    He glared at her. “I told you to leave the room.” He directed his attention to his father again. “I can see it was a mistake to try and deal with you rationally, so I will be blunt. I want the deed to the land my mother gave me.”
    “You do, do you?” His father was shaking from head to toe, and Sterling was afraid the old man might have a stroke.
    “Calm yourself. I ask for nothing that is not mine by law. If you remember, I asked you for the deed when I reached twenty and one. You put me off. This time, you’re not getting away with it. The land is rightfully mine.”
    His father whirled and yanked open the upper doors of the writing cabinet, then began throwing papers right and left. “You want what she gave you, do you?” he sputtered. “Well, you shall have it! And not another penny! I’ll cut you from my will. I swear I will. You’ll be disinherited from this day forth.” His fingers closed on a cylinder of rolled oilcloth, and he held it high. “Your precious mother’s legacy. Naught but useless wilderness. Little good you’ll have of it, boy. Nothing but trees and savages.” He grimaced and threw the deed on the floor between them.
    Sterling’s eyes burned. “What have I ever done to make you hate me so?” he finally managed.
    The baron swayed on his feet and caught himself on the corner of the desk, supporting his weight. Suddenly, he looked old and tired. “You make me ashamed every time I look at you,” he said with disgust. “You remind me of her and of a period in my life that I’ve never ceased to regret.”
    Sterling’s chest felt tight, and his head throbbed. The room had become stuffy, and it was hard for him to breathe. “I’m sorry, Father,” he said. “It seems the biggest mistake was yours. A mistake for you to ever bring me to England. Why did you do it? Why didn’t you leave me with my mother’s people?”
    “Because of your Gray blood,” the baron answered hoarsely. “Because I thought good English stock would triumph over barbarian—”
    “Enough,” Sterling said. “There’s no need to continue.” He noticed that Cailin had come to stand at his side, and he grasped her arm firmly. “We’ll take our leave of you, sir.”
    “Damned right you will. And if you ever set foot on Oxley again, I’ll have you shot!”
    Sterling took a step toward the door. Cailin broke free of his grasp, darted back, and picked up the oilcloth cylinder from the floor.
    “You’ll need this if you’re going to America,” she said.
    “ We will need it,” he replied.
    “Go straight to hell, both of you,” Oxley flung after them as they left the library.
    “We’ll save ye a good place near the fire,” Cailin quipped. Then she scowled up at Sterling. “Be this English hospitality?” she asked. “When ye call us savages?”
    “My father’s idea of hospitality,” he answered softly as he strode down the hall, pulling her along with him. “He was ever a man sentimental toward his

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