The Elusive Heiress

The Elusive Heiress by Gail Mallin Page B

Book: The Elusive Heiress by Gail Mallin Read Free Book Online
Authors: Gail Mallin
Tags: Regency Romance
he will keep us waiting long,’ Alicia said as she led the way back to the drawing room.
    Kate perched upon the edge of a chair and let out a restless sigh. She hoped Alicia was right. Dinner had lasted almost three hours and it was now well after nine. They were going to be late.
    ‘Do not worry, my love! The Leghs won’t expect us before ten.’
    Kate was sorry that her impatience had been so obvious. ‘I meant no criticism of Mr Crawford,’ she murmured.
    ‘No need to apologise, Kitty. It is only natural that you are nervous.’ Alicia smiled at her reassuringly. ‘Nonetheless, I’m confident you have nothing to fear. Now, why don’t you run along and have Mary refresh your toilette before we leave?’
    If only she knew , thought Kate as she obeyed this sensible suggestion. She wasn’t feeling nervous about the drum. Playing the debutante and meeting Alicia’s friends was something she had prepared herself for. It was no more alarming than any embarking upon any other new role.
    The prospect of dancing with Randal Crawford, on the other hand, made her pulse race!
    When Kate came downstairs again her companions were ready to leave. Godwin ushered them out to his comfortable carriage and, on the short journey to the Leghs’ substantial mansion in Brook Street, Kate’s initial liking for him grew. No one could have shown greater concern for their comfort or been more attentive in seeing that they were not jostled as they joined the throng queuing to crowd into the house.
    Conscious of curious eyes, Kate kept her head held high as they ascended the fine oak staircase and she was introduced to her hosts.
    Maria Legh was a small, bird-like woman wearing a showy profusion of Venetian lace and too much jewellery, but her smile was kind as she greeted Kate.
    ‘Welcome to Chester, Miss Nixon,’ she said. ‘I trust you had a good journey from America?’
    Kate murmured something appropriate and then they moved on into the first of the elegant drawing rooms.
    ‘I don’t see Redesmere,’ Alicia declared after directing a sweeping glance over the crowd.
    ‘M’nevvy is always inclined to arrive late. Don’t think the boy really enjoys these kind of gatherings.’ Godwin let out a rich chuckle. ‘Too many matchmaking mamas out on the catch, if you follow my meaning!’
    Realising that she had been holding her breath in anticipation, Kate gave herself a mental shake. She wasn’t here to dangle after Randal Crawford, she was here to establish herself so thoroughly that Gerald Sullivan’s revelations would not be believed. The sooner she got on with the task and stopped behaving like a greensick ninny the better.
    ‘Charming girl, your goddaughter. Spoke to her earlier. Frederick was very taken with her too. She made him laugh! Thinks she’s got style. He can’t abide these namby-pamby misses who haven’t a word to say for themselves.’ The stout elderly woman bedecked in diamonds who had stopped by Lady Edgeworth’s chair let out a gruff chuckle of amusement. ‘Shouldn’t wonder if she sets a new trend!’
    Alicia felt a tiny flicker of alarm mingling with her satisfaction as she thanked Lady Massey for her compliments. Kitty had a great deal of self-confidence for a girl of her age and, scorning the coy submissiveness currently in vogue, made no attempt to hide her intelligence or her opinions.
    ‘She’s a beauty too. You are going to be kept very busy, Alicia, if I’m not mistaken. But you’ll make time to bring her to our rout, eh?’
    Pride overcame Alicia’s anxiety and she assented to the influential old lady’s demand with a happy smile.
    Lady Massey moved away and Alicia surveyed the impromptu dance floor, which Mrs Legh had created by the simple expedient of removing most of the furniture from her second drawing room. The carpet had been taken up and the oak boards polished to a high shine while small groups of chairs had been set out at intervals around the edges of the room to enable watchful

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