Rose Trelawney

Rose Trelawney by Joan Smith

Book: Rose Trelawney by Joan Smith Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joan Smith
Tags: Regency Romance
of the original. There were no pavilions attached, certainly nothing in the nature of the luxurious game-room or Jagdpavillion, no enclosed courtyard in which one might with ease parade an infantry division as at Ludwigsburg. It was not of such imperial proportions. In fairness to Sir Ludwig, I must confess that I searched in vain too for a replica of that debauched cabinet d’amour designed for Duke Eberhard Ludwig, with its shocking nudes done in bas-relief and all those mirrors in strategic places. The ancestors of Sir Ludwig were too English for that, or their wives were.
    Due to my arriving at the place in December, I got about the parks and gardens very little. They were still ankle-deep in wet snow and not attractive in that season, but there was one feature I intended to investigate, snow or not. This was a chapel. I thought when first I espied it from Abigail’s room that Granhurst was built on the ruins of some older home, but it was not the case. The chapel was not what remained of some abbey or castle; it was a folly built by the second owner to lend the place a touch of class and give it a spurious air of history. I was curious to see what sort of a mess it was inside. I envisioned some duplicate of the bad taste to be found within the walls of the home proper.
    As I was treated in every way as quite an honored guest, though to be sure one who had hurled at her head with monotonous regularity how much money she owed her host, I did not feel myself to be encroaching to ask Sir Ludwig if I might see the place. I did not ask him on the same day as we went to meet Mr. Morley. We were all too busy discussing the niche I might hold in the case for the thought to enter my head. The next day the weather turned quite bad again. We were fearing a repeat of the blizzard of two weeks before, and Sir Ludwig put off his trip to Gillingham on that account. I was quite simply amazed when he refused to let me see the chapel.
    “Not now,” was his reply, expressed with a certain impatience. “I’m busy, Rose.”
    “I didn’t mean to ask you to accompany me. I wanted only to get the key, that I might have a look around for myself,” I explained.
     “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
    “Why not?”
    “Because I don’t,” was his unrevealing answer. German!
    “Have you got something to hide?”
    “Yes. You .”
    He had been curt enough the last day that I did not press the matter further. He seemed preoccupied, worried. Since the visit with Mr. Morley, in fact, I had been treated with a certain brusqueness at definite odds with my former treatment. It seemed Sir Ludwig had taken the idea that as I was not a missing heiress, I was indeed her kidnapper. He had hotly denied it, but a cooler consideration had given rise to doubts. He feared he was entertaining a criminal, and his eagerness to get over to Gillingham without me to check it out made him irascible. A dozen times he cursed the falling snow, with a quite careless disregard for the presence of three females. He was snappish not only with me but with Annie and Abigail as well. Nor did he join us in the studio as he used to. It seemed strangely empty without him there bothering the life out of us.
    It was a great relief when the next morning showed us clear skies, and no more than an inch of snow fallen, fast melting, so that the trip was at last possible. Abbie, who was a bit of a road hog, asked to go with him.
    “You will want to stay and keep Rose company,” he told her.
    As she obviously wanted nothing of the sort, I encouraged her to go. It would be easier to get into the chapel without her along. As if reading my mind, Sir Ludwig turned to me before leaving and said, “We’ll see the chapel tomorrow. I have the key with me. I want you to stay home and do nothing foolish.”
    It was of all things he could have done and said the most likely to precipitate folly on my part. There was even an urge to break the chapellock, but of course I could not go

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