Chapter 27

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"Ah, the weather is surely cooperative today," Mr William Percy declared as he applied pressure to the horse's sides with his feet in an attempt to keep up with the female companion ahead of him. His designated horse did far from cooperate though, in other circumstances and with perhaps some other company, Mr Percy would have verbally acknowledged the tardiness of the animal using as little or as many words he deemed fit.

"That is a peculiar way to describe it," Lady Diana Beaumont pointed, her left brow going up a little in debate. Surely a man must have a vocabulary of words to describe weather as fine as the one at present. She looked up into the clear morning sky and inhaled the fresh air, feeling it gush about in her lungs and cool everything down.

"You must know by now, Lady Beaumont, that I am a very peculiar gentleman," Her unwanted company announced, the statement coming out in more of a self praise than Diana would like, "I prefer to do things, or day things, my way."

"Which, I'm sure, makes you believe that you are far worthy than those around you?" She asked, a grin playing at her lips. She wanted to hear him deny it, and suddenly felt a hint of frustration were he to agree with her words; because Diana could surely count a dozen ways she had observed by which Mr Percy could be far from categorized as worthy.

"Ah no, not in general," The man responded, grinning back as his gaze flickered from Diana to the path in front and then to the reluctant horse he was saddled upon, "But worthier than some, I might say."

"By some, I take it you mean Lord Buxton and Lord Algernon," The lady mused, her words coming out as a statement instead of as a question.

"Yes," Mr Percy spoke flatly yet boldly and Diana stirred a little. A sudden wave of frustration took hold of her, a wave that had been pushing to come forth yet had been continually resisted ever since Mr Percy had invited himself to accompany her on her originally private ride on the grounds of Brockenhurst. Consequently, Diana regretted having dismissed the footman The Countess had asked to accompany her. Having the footman there would have grounded her and that would've helped her keep her emotions civil. She would've certainly not dismissed him if she knew she'd find herself alone with Mr Percy, and the gentleman seemed far from acknowledging the discomfort of the situation.

"You are mistaken then," Diana asserted, keeping her tone civil, "Lord Buxton and Lord Algernon have proven themselves very worthy of everything they seek to achieve, and I shan't be surprised when they do succeed." As she churned the words she had spoken into her mind again, she didn't realize what else she had meant by the word everything. What else had she intended the word to mean aside from Frank Templemore's investment that the gentlemen sought to gain? Her emphasis on the word was highly unintentional, yet her subconscious had still probed her to let it out.

There was a swift silence between the company as a loud wind blew; pressing Diana's thin net veil on her face and the heavy skirt of her riding habit fluttered a little. "You as well then?" A gruff declaration came from her unwanted companion again, followed by him clearing his throat.

"Pardon?" she let out, tugging slightly on the reins of her Aunt's mustard horse, and Glory obediently stopped in response. Mr William Percy brought his horse to a halt right next to her as well.

"I only meant your approval. Have the gentlemen gained that as well?" The man crowed, an annoying grin on his lips as his brows raised at the lady's reaction. His tone was laced with mockery, as though he had successfully snatched out a secret from her without her knowing.

"I know exactly what you mean, Mr Percy," Lady Diana Beaumont retorted. This gentleman clearly deemed himself the owner of a new found revelation, and she would acknowledge it lest he thought she was afraid and cornered. "Pray do not hide your meaning behind civil words."

"Ah, so it is true, you hold Lord Edward Buxton in a high esteem, my lady," he cast her an observant nod, putting aside the civility of words as she had bid of him. The lady's intense expression did not falter as she looked at him head on, a challenging look in her eyes as if she was waiting to see what he would do about it. "I saw you that night, charging after him. I am very observant, Lady Beaumont."

"And I saw you that night as well," She claimed in calm anger, "How you spoke to him like you held something against him."

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