Chapter Ten

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Benjamin's carriage stopped outside of Bentley Manor and his heart filled with dread

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Benjamin's carriage stopped outside of Bentley Manor and his heart filled with dread. He had other naval connections perhaps he should... No, Richard needed to know. The whole family deserved to know. What if they never saw her again? This was bigger then him, them, their relationship.

He no sooner stepped out of the coach and Albert had come to greet him. "Mr. McAllister a pleasure to see you again. Lord and Lady Bentley have been looking forward to your arrival." Albert paused only slightly before saying, "Do you travel alone? Has Lady McAllister not come with you?"

Guilt filled him. "No, Albert. I am afraid I am alone. It is of the utmost importance that I have a moment to speak with Lord Bentley as soon as it is convenient."

Benjamin took note of the change in Albert's features his smile had disappeared and the guardian of the family nodded his head in his usual no nonsense way. Giving orders for the coach to be stabled and Benjamin's bag to be brought to the guest bedroom.

Benjamin wasn't sure he would be staying that long, but then again...duels usually are scheduled for dawn so...

"Follow me," Albert said interrupting his musings and taking him to the library. Albert was rather quick for a man of his advanced years, but Benjamin kept up with him easily. Albert knocked on the door and was bid to enter.

He opened the door and announced. "Mr. McAllister to see you, sir."

Richard was all smiles when he approached. "Benjamin how goes things? Is Clara with Juliana? She has been so worried about her. The new baby has taken her mind from her distress. However, I must say we were thrilled to have received your letter."

The more Richard spoke, the more in error Benjamin realized he was in coming here. He should have handled this on his own.

"Would you like something to drink or eat after your journey?" Richard asked.

Benjamin looked at Albert and understanding the gravity of the situation Albert nodded and excused himself from the room, which Richard found rather odd, as Albert doesn't normally leave until told to go.

It was then that Richard took in Benjamin's appearance and demeanor. The man looked like he hadn't slept in days. "Benjamin? What is it? What has happened?"

Benjamin went over to Richard's liqueur table. "May I?" Richard nodded.

Benjamin knew he shouldn't make a habit of this, but he felt he needed the drink to strengthen his nerve. Having swallowed a swig he, looked at Richard and it struck him, he knew not where to begin. Thankfully, Richard was a perceptive fellow.

"Is it Clara? What has become of her?"

Benjamin nodded and Richard waved for him to be seated but Benjamin declined he was too rambunctious to be settled.

"Since the incident here she has not been herself. She had taken to her room, secluding herself away from everyone. She would have terrible dreams where she would talk and scream in her sleep."

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