Sussex Summer

Sussex Summer by Lucy Muir

Book: Sussex Summer by Lucy Muir Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lucy Muir
Tags: Regency Romance
distressful for her if she had to speak to Lady Tremaine about her son’s conduct in the matter.
    After Jamie returned Jane to Mrs. Archer, yet another gentleman claimed a dance. Altogether, Jane found she enjoyed the evening more than she had hoped, mainly because of the marked attentions of Lord Blackwood. Still, she was relieved when she saw Squire Shirley and his wife take their leave, and knew she and Fanny could also depart without causing comment. She signaled to Fanny and they went to search for their father, finding him ensconced in a comfortable chair in Lord Tremaine's well-stocked library.
    "Is it that late already?" he asked in surprise, his eyes going to the long case clock in the corner of the room. "I suppose it is," he said with a sigh, regretfully putting down his book and rising from his comfortable chair to accompany his daughters home. After a few perfunctory questions about their evening, Mr. Hampton lapsed into his usual abstracted state. Jane and Fanny also rode in silence, each busy with thoughts they did not care to share with the other.
    * * * *
    The afternoon following the ball, Jane and Fanny received a note from Haverton Park requesting they meet Edward and his guests there the next morning to go riding. Jane did not wish to go, but realised she had no valid excuse to stay away. In truth her father would not object to her going that early of a morning, and would likely even encourage the exercise for Fanny’s sake.
    Jane was not being modest when she said she was no horsewoman, and she felt certain, somehow, that Lady Juliette would be. Fanny's skill was little better than Jane's, but she had fewer objections to going and persuaded Jane she could not shirk her neighbourly duties. The sisters searched out their little-used riding habits and gave them to Mrs. Reid to press.
    Early the next morning Jane and Fanny walked to the stables at Haverton Park where they found the others already gathered. The sisters both requested gentle mounts, and Edward had two small mares brought out. Lord Blackwood helped Jane to mount as Edward assisted Lady Juliette onto a spirited gelding, and then turned to help Fanny mount.
    Lady Juliette was wearing a beautiful habit of yellow velvet trimmed in black military braid, which she had topped with a dashing hat set at a rakish angle on her dusky curls. Jane felt hopelessly dowdy in her brown cloth habit, and resigned herself to what she felt certain would be a miserable ride. The party set out in twos, Edward with Lady Juliette, Fanny with Jamie, and Jane and Lord Blackwood bringing up the rear.
    They had not ridden far when their party encountered Lord Staplefield on a large grey. The earl was clad in old-style riding clothes consisting of leather breeches, a scarlet waistcoat, a laced hat, and jackboots, and Jane observed a momentary sneer that touched Lady Juliette’s lips when she first saw him. The earl was invited to join their group, and the addition of his spirited mount caused several of the other horses to resent the slow pace. Lady Juliette’s mount in particular became quite restive, and, seeing this, the earl suggested a short gallop to the Blackwoods. Lord Blackwood declined, but Lady Juliette accepted eagerly. The two gave their mounts their heads, and soon vanished from sight.
    When the rest of the party caught up with them, Lady Juliette was laughing up at the earl as their horses walked slowly along, their energy spent. Jane saw a momentary frown cross Edward's face, but it disappeared when Lady Juliette became aware of their presence and rode up to him.
    "We had the most glorious gallop, Captain Tremaine. You needn't refuse yourself the pleasure of one to stay with Miss Hampton and Miss Fanny. I am certain my brother would be willing to stay behind and bear them company."
    Jane kept her expression neutral, but she was appalled by Lady Juliette's insensitivity. Could she not see that Edward stayed with the slower riders not only out of good

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