At two o’clock, he had still not arrived, and I must confess, I was growing irritable. It was a hot day, or at least as hot as it gets in Gloucestershire, and my dark green habit, which had felt so stylish and jaunty when I had donned it, was beginning to itch.
I was beginning to wilt.
Somehow my mother and Mrs. Brougham had forgotten to set a time for the nephew’s arrival, so I had been obligated to be dressed and ready at noon precisely.
“What time would you say marks the end of the afternoon?” I asked, fanning myself with a folded-up newspaper.
“Hmmm?” My mother was writing a letter-presumably to one of her many siblings-and wasn’t really listening. She looked quite lovely sitting there by the window. I have no idea what my original mother would have looked like as an older woman since she did not deign to live that long, but Eloise had not lost any of her beauty. Her hair was still a rich, chestnut color and her skin unlined. Her eyes are difficult to describe-rather changeable in color, actually.
She tells me that she was never considered a beauty when she was young. No one thought she was unattractive, and she was in fact quite popular, but she was never designated a diamond of the first water. She tells me that women of intelligence age better.
; I find this interesting, and I do hope it bodes well for my own future.
But at present I was not concerned for any future outside that of the next ten minutes, after which I was convinced I would perish from the heat. “The afternoon,” I repeated. “When would you say it ends? Four o’clock? Five? Please say it isn’t six.”
She finally glanced up. “What are you talking about?”
“Mr. Brougham. We did say the afternoon, did we not?”
She looked at me blankly.
“I may stop waiting for him once the afternoon passes into evening, may I not?”
Mother paused for a moment, her quill suspended in air. “You should not be so impatient, Amanda.”
“I’m not,” I insisted. “I’m hot.”
She considered that. “It is warm in here, isn’t it?”
I nodded. “My habit is made of wool.”
She grimaced, but I noticed she did not suggest that I change. She was not going to sacrifice a potential suitor for anything as inconsequential as the weather. I resumed fanning myself.
“I don’t think his name is Brougham,” Mother said.
“I beg your pardon?”
“I believe he is related to Mrs. Brougham, not Mister. I don’t know what her family name is.”
She went back to her letter. My mother writes an inordinate number of letters. About what, I cannot imagine. I would not call our family dull, but we are certainly ordinary. Surely her sisters have grown bored of Georgiana has mastered French conjugation and Frederick has skinned his knee.
But Mother likes to receive letters, and she says that one must send to receive, so there she is at her desk, nearly every day, recounting the boring details of our lives.
“Someone is coming,” she said, just as I was beginning to nod off on the sofa. I sat up and turned toward the window. Sure enough, a carriage was rolling up the drive.
“I thought we were meant to go for a ride,” I said, somewhat irritably. Had I sweltered in my riding habit for nothing?
“You were,” Mother murmured, her brow knitting together as she watched the carriage draw near.
I did not think that Mr. Brougham-or whoever was in the carriage-could see into the drawing room through the open window, but just in case, I maintained my dignified position on the sofa, tilting my head ever so slightly so that I could observe the events in the front drive.
The carriage came to a halt, and a gentleman hopped down, but his back was to the house, and I could see nothing of him other than his height (average) and his hair (dark). He then reached up and assisted a lady down.