The Elusive Heiress

The Elusive Heiress by Gail Mallin Page A

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Authors: Gail Mallin
Tags: Regency Romance
for the drum.
    ‘And remember to watch your tongue, Kate! Don’t forget you are supposed to be a shy young miss,’ Mary warned when Kate was at last ready to go down for dinner.
    Kate grinned at her. ‘I dare say that there aren’t many American ladies in Chester. If I overstep the mark, let’s hope they think me an eccentric foreigner!’
    * * * *
    ‘Very pretty, my love!’ Alicia gazed at her in approval when she entered the drawing room. ‘Celestine may be a very irritating woman, but she certainly can sew! You will outshine every other girl present!’
    ‘Thank you, ma’am,’ Kate laughed.
    Alicia beamed at her, conveniently forgetting that she had been doubtful when Kitty had first explained how she wanted the modiste to alter a dress that had caught her fancy amongst the shop’s stock of ready made-up gowns. The dress would need only minor alteration for a perfect fit, but the colour was unusual for a debutante and it seemed to her that it would be very plain once the trimmings Kitty disliked were removed.
    She had allowed herself to be overruled, giving way to Kitty’s determination and Madame Celestine’s discreet urging, but she had feared the result might not show off her goddaughter to advantage. Fortunately, she had been wrong! Nothing could become the girl’s exotic beauty more than that deceptively simple sheath of deep rose satin!
    Another quarter of an hour passed and Alicia glanced anxiously at the cloisonne clock which stood upon her white marble mantelpiece.
    ‘I do hope Godwin isn’t going to be much longer,’ she said. ‘Or I shall have complaints from Cook!’
    Mr Crawford was to be their escort to the Leghs’ and had been bidden to dine in Abbey Square beforehand.
    ‘If he is half the trencherman you told me of, I’m sure he will be here soon,’ Kate replied soothingly.
    She had barely finished speaking when they heard the sound of the front door opening and then voices in the hallway.
    ‘My dear Alicia, pray forgive my tardiness! An unfortunate problem with one of the carriage lanterns, but all is now well and here I am at last!’
    Kate surveyed Randal’s uncle with interest. He was a tall, well set-up man who was just beginning to run to fat, a tendency his elegantly-cut dark brown coat helped to disguise. His fair hair was receding from his forehead and it was liberally streaked with grey, but his blue eyes were alert and his smile lively. She judged him to be around fifty.
    Alicia performed the introductions and Godwin bowed over Kate’s hand with a graceful flourish.
    ‘Enchanted to meet you, my dear! I remember your father well. You have a look of him, you know.’
    Kate suppressed a giggle.
    Dinner was a protracted meal. Mrs Hibbert had excelled herself, producing a delicious mulligatawny soup for the remove followed by two elaborate courses which included several of Mr Crawford’s favourite dishes.
    ‘Pray give my compliments to Mrs Hibbert, Alicia,’ Godwin begged as he sampled the splendid haunch of venison roasted to perfection. ‘I swear her cooking gets better every time I dine with you.’
    Kate could only marvel at the amount of food he managed to put away while at the same time conducting a thoroughly entertaining conversation with both his neighbours.
    ‘Let me help you to some of this syllabub, Miss Kitty.’ Godwin waved his spoon at the large glass dish set in the centre of the table. ‘It is extremely good.’
    Kate, whose appetite had been satiated long before the second course had been set before them, thanked him prettily, but shook her head. ‘If I eat another mouthful, sir, I fear I shall not be able to dance one single step tonight.’
    He laughed jovially. ‘I see I must not tempt you then else all the young fellows will be out for my blood.’
    When he had at last eaten himself to a standstill Alicia signalled to Kate and they rose to their feet and left him to his port.
    ‘Godwin enjoys his food, but he is not a heavy drinker. I doubt if

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