Chapter 8

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"Edward, Isaac, I must say it is a surprise to see you both here," Adam Seymour asked as he met the gentlemen mid way before they could approach where the family was seated.

"Yes, we had pending work in Southampton, but we're off at first light tomorrow," Edward responded, as Isaac nodded.

"Ah, that is great news. At least you were fortunate enough to witness the greatest fair in our county," Adam chuckled, before straightening himself, "Come, let me introduce you to my family."

Alicia and Diana sat seated where they were, they shifted their gaze from Adam and the gentlemen walking towards them, to their cousins who were busy navigating a kite. They were interrupted by Adam clearing his throat and the whole family turned to face him.

"Mother, aunts, I'd like to introduce my friends, Lord Edward Buxton of Portsmouth and Lord Isaac Algernon," Adam dictated, and then turning towards the gentlemen he continued, "And this is my mother, Lady Seymour and her sisters, Lady Kirkpatrick, Lady Beaumont, Lady Charlotte Allan and my Uncle and his wife should be around here somewhere."

"It is an honor to make your acquaintance," Lord Buxton nodded, tipping his head a little. "Likewise," Lord Algernon followed, smiling at the party before him.

"I was horrified to have missed you and your parents at my ball at Mansfield some weeks ago, Lord Buxton," Lady Seymour let out, swaying her hand fan below her face, "It's just that this year's occasion had proven quite hectic than all the years before it. I have such a growing family to deal with now, and my own daughter's about to get engaged. Don't mistake me sir, for I am in no way complaining, but events of the likes of these can be quite tedious on my nerves."

Diana smiled and shook her head a little at her aunt. Aunt Margaret was quite proud to admit to anyone besides the family of her bursts of excitement at Rebecca's ordeal. She turned to look at the gentlemen standing before them. Lord Buxton and Lord Algernon forced small smiles on their faces and shifted uncomfortably under the route the conversation was taking and as far as Diana could tell, neither of them had any interest and were merely trying to be polite by nodding in return. Which was quite strange as knowing, in a short period of time, how straightforward Lord Buxton was, she couldn't figure why he'd try to be polite at all.

"Come now," Lady Beaumont said to her sister as she put a hand on her shoulder trying to calm her down, "I am sure Lord Buxton and his family doesn't mind."

"Of course," Lord Buxton added.

"Are you enjoying the fair so far, my lord?" Diana asked, attempting to change the topic of the conversation and pull the gentlemen out of the misery, "I do hope it's not dull as compared to the ones you're used to in Portsmouth."

Lord Buxton's gaze turned to Diana instantly as he was addressed, and seeming to get lost in a quick daze as though he was startled to see her, his eyes fluttered as he brought himself to focus on the conversation. "Ah yes, it is a unique affair."

"I'm glad you think so," Diana responded partly satisfied and not as keen on his choice of word. Lord Edward Buxton clearly had something or the other against Southampton, or perhaps he was too much of a businessman to enjoy the more quiet part of Hampshire and the simple pleasures the society here was so fond of.

"Would you consider taking a walk with me," Lord Buxton inquired suddenly, with his eyes fixed on her, and Diana shifted a little in discomfort as everyone else grew silent. She hadn't narrated to her family about their chance acquaintance at the countryside during their carriage ride some afternoons ago. Neither had Alicia, and thus this sudden invitation would seemingly turn into a topic of conversation amongst her aunts, and that was something neither Diana nor Alicia wanted as of now.

"And might you consider one with me, Lady Alicia Kirkpatrick," Lord Algernon added, making Diana and Alicia's stomachs tighten further.

Not letting their emotions show on their face, and certainly not turning to face their aunts and the expressions they might have plastered on their faces, the ladies had no choice but to stand up and politely take up the offer. As much as they'd hate the impression it would give off to others, they had grown quite intrigued with the conversation Lord Buxton and Lord Algernon had to offer, although they would do anything but admit it to each other or to anyone else. 

"It seems you still found a way to have our company after we declined your offer when we last met," Lady Diana Beaumont started as she walked alongside Lord Buxton, away from the spot at the grounds where her family were seated. The sun had come out from behind the clouds and with her cream parasol positioned carefully, she observed her surroundings rather than her company's face as she spoke. She did not entirely mean to come off as rude, but considering the fact that she would have to deal with her family's constant predictions about a possible engagement for a long time after this event; her speech had come off as stern yet taunting without her entirely meaning for it to be so. 

"I was under the impression that we were refused because you wanted to spend the larger portion of the day with your family," Lord Buxton responded, his tone collected, "So I assumed there was no harm in requesting your company after."

Diana turned to face him as she walked, he did always speak his mind. It was as if he always knew what to say. Looking at Alicia and Lord Algernon's figures walking far ahead them, Diana sighed, "That is all well, I suppose." She could not help but wonder why was it that he desired her company so. He seemed well reserved, so she couldn't possibly guess the reason. 

"I meant no offense," Lord Buxton voice broke through her thoughts and she found him looking at her, observing her expressions.

"None taken," she smiled as they continued walking in silence.

As they walked past the tents at the fair, Diana's eyes caught on to the tent she had been in before with Alicia and Jesse, and a sudden wave of uncertainty washed over her. She had forgotten about all the doom the psychic had predicted for her, and now, in a moment, she was plagued by it again.

"We are leaving tonight for Portsmouth," the familiar voice brought her back as she turned to look at him. He seemed satisfied yet disappointed. "You must be relieved," Diana pointed out in a teasing fashion.

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