Edward, overhearing the remainder of the conversation, left the small circle of gentleman.
“Good heavens Annabella! Wherever do you read or hear such things? I suggest in future, you study sensible books.”
“Well I think that to be no fun! No fun at all!”
“You would class death as entertainment? Think again.”
“Edward, please my dear. Excuse us Annabella, we are going to go for a little walk and we shall admire your magnificent paintings on our travels.” Gently, Lucinda stroked Edward’s chin, turning his head to face her.
“Come along my love we shall stand outside the room, the coast is clear.”
“I will not let that half-witted woman scare you like that! You were trembling on the spot!”
“Oh Edward , do not worry about me, I got a little shock that is all. No damage is done.”
“But I do worry because I love you. It grieves me more than anything, seeing you pale and anxious.”
“My, you say I am pale, but I do believe that you look as if you have seen a ghost tonight.”
“Maybe I have.”
“You- you have?”
“This house is ancient, it dates right back to the 16th century, I could have sworn that I saw a shape passing just now in this very hallway.”
“Oh my goodness!” Lucinda clutched his hand a little tighter, gazed at Edward’s serious face, she moved her vision to his eyes noticing the wicked glint in them. She laughed hitting his arm with her fan.
“Oh you are perfectly beastly to frighten me so! For a moment there, you had me fooled, I was almost overwhelmed with terror!”
He grasped her small waist. “Well are you, are you overwhelmed?”
“I suppose I was. Come along Edward, lets re-join the dull company.”
“Ah! That’s what I like to hear good old bean!”
“Now that’s where Rupert and Diana get their queer expressions from! It was you all along!”
Annabella peered over the large circle of people as Edward and Lucinda re-entered the room.
“Whatever took you so long? Come, we all want to dance and we couldn’t have begun without you. Edward, you also. You may have two left feet, but your wife needs a partner.”
Lucinda laughed, taking Edward’s gloved hand. “Rather two left feet than two faces.” Edward muttered. Edward passed Lucinda’s left side.
“Your meaning?” She dipped past Edward’s right, returning to the centre of the two lines.
“She will say one thing to a person’s face and another behind their back.”
“Oh.Concentrate on the dance moves Edward, you may fall over.”
“You are the one doing most of the talking, you’re distracting me! I wonder how Miss Douglas is getting along?”
“I don’t know.” Lucinda pouted, taking a step back to clap and re-join the line just as the dance finished.
“Splendid! Splendid!” Annabella waved her arms in the air. “Oh that is one of my favourite dances, it would have been perfect, had a couple not been talking throughout. Perhaps the Ashdown’s should save their conversations for their own home. Come, come for our next one we have the Gavotte dance and then, dinner shall be served.”
“Fancy being shamed by the host!” Edward muttered over the peasant course. “This meat is far to strong for my liking. I wonder how long it was hung for?”
Lucinda looked up at a prim Annabella, who sat at the head of the table with a nervous George to her left.
“George!” Annabella hissed. “Be sociable and take your elbows off the table!”
Lucinda stared at the table cloth, avoiding the eye contact with her highly-amused husband, biting her lips together as Annabella glared once more at George, leaning forward to speak to the guest opposite her.
“Yes a governess, I know, how awful.” Lucinda froze, looking anxiously towards the top of the table. “I mean, they could have at least sent their boy to boarding school. Governesses are the lowest of the low! I told her about the fire incident. If they’re not trying to kill you off, then they’re probably making eyes at the master of the house. I’d be keeping my beady eye on him if I were her. I’d watch him like a hawk. I know, they’ll be the laughing stock of this town.”
“More than likely.” The small, round faced woman agreed. “But do be careful, they may hear you.”
“Oh don’t worry cousin. They’re both half deaf anyway and too wrapped up in their own thoughts, they shan’t hear us. Lucinda looks like a silly, frail little doll tonight. I think I shall propose a toast, seeing as though the butler has just topped up the glasses.”
Annabella stood up, holding up her glass. “I want to propose a toast to friends and excellent company. Good Luck to the Ashdowns with their new Governess, they shall need it and how I am glad that Lucinda is well again.”
Lucinda gritted her teeth. “How? How did she know that I was ill, did you tell her Edward. Or do I look terrible?”
“My darling, I swear that I have not told her anything, she may have guessed.”
“Guessed? Do I look pale and thin? Tell me, do show a resemblance to a doll?”
“Shhh don’t worry. You are a little thin, she is just jealous that you are a natural beauty. There is only so much make up a woman can wear before she looks like a clown, if you get my meaning. Concentrate on your meal, we’ll have you back to full strength in no time.”
To be continued….