"I will not concede, my staff is more reliable than yours though smaller in number they accomplish a great deal more with this piece of history than yours do with your London property," he said to Lady Scott's husband.

"You are right, he is as stubborn as a goat," Sir Scott laughed.

"Well a goat? I guess I can make allowance in the range of names the upper crust has given me," Mr. Howard teased and sipped his wine.

"I told you," Lady Scott giggled and so did the others around him.

"Lady Alice, Mrs. Theresa great to see you both again," Joseph came along and we nodded.

"Lord Joseph," I gave him the best smile under the circumstances.

"Lady Lilly how much you have changed," Joseph said as Miss Lillian blushed, this was their first encounter for the Spring Dinner for he was very taken by surprise with her presence with utter discomfort in his smile.

Then I saw why Mr. Howard had asked Joseph to escort Miss Lillian to dinner, or Lilly as some called her sweetly, there was in the least a hint of her inclination towards Joseph written all over her cheeks. Mr. Howard had the perfect thing to try to change Joseph's mind about our engagement by bringing together two people of equal reputation.

"Shall we?" Mr. Henry brought me down to earth.

"Yes," I held his arm to be escorted to dinner.

Mr. Howard sat on one end of the table and Joseph sat on the other, it was not until I saw Mr. Bert standing by and Ms. Johnson coming to serve us that my seat felt comfortable.

"Wine Lady Alice Stewart?" Henry asked when mine somehow had all been drunk and only the men could refill a ladies a cup which I found it extremely uncomfortable having to wait for someone to notice my cup was empty and then waiting for them to refill it.

"Yes thank you Mr. Henry," I agreed.

"So will you be at the Ascot this year?"

"Yes and yourself?"

"I will."

"Do you know there is an old link between my family and yours?"

"No I did not," I saw Joseph who talked to Lilly as if they were filled with secrets and Mr. Howard whose face was constantly turned away from mine.

"Well Sir Paul and my grandfather were actually childhood friends."

"Sorry I did not know, your grandfather is he..."

"Yes alive but unfortunately not doing so well lately."

"Oh I wish him to get better soon."

"Why do you not tell him yourself in another occasion?"

"We should not trouble your grandfather."

"It will be no trouble and I have no doubt my grandfather would love to meet a Stewart family member, especially if that someone is a pretty young lady."

"Mr. Henry," I warned him because of his flirtations and flatteries.

"Fine not another word," he chuckled.

This night I did got not even a good evening or a good night from Mr. Howard and retired to my room feeling indisposed by the end of dinner.

"Milady is everything alright?" Mrs. Hall walked in to my room. "I heard you came to bed earlier than the other guests and got worried with you looking so thin and frail."

"This lady was no lady tonight; I probably so much sherry they might change my name to Lady Sherry."

"And in your present state you do not bear it well."

"No I do not think so, can you please forgive me and give my apologies to the staff for not going to the kitchen tonight."

"Do not think on it and ring if you need anything else."

"Thank you Mrs. Hall for your kindness and not just today," I had always wanted to appreciate her for the treatment she gave me when I was not rich or a lady.

"Kindness unto the kind is always easy Lady Alice," she said closing the door to let me sleep.

The next morning I remembered a vague but peaceful dream with Mr. Howard; he walked into the room to ask me just one question.

"Are you ill Alice?" His pale long fingers caressed my face and because it was a dream I admitted the truth.

"Yes Mr. Howard, stay," I replied so he held my hand until I fell asleep again.

A dream which I ought not to have dreamed but it was of much comfort somehow and I thought it an omen of good then Mrs. Miller arrived to help me with my dress for breakfast and after the guests at Stanley's estate would go out for something I had only done once; hunting.


Copyright: All Rights Reserved to A. Sena Gomes.

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