The Dangerous Lord Darrington(2)

By: Sarah Mallory

‘If you think that, then you are a fool,’ Guy retorted. ‘I regret my youthful folly more than I can say, but the damage is done. However, I prefer that the news-sheets and the ton should talk about my scandalous love life and leave the past alone. It may be forgotten now, but the smear is there, and always will be.’

‘But it could be erased—indeed, it was never more than a salacious rumour, but your withdrawing from politics was taken by some as an admission of guilt. Come back to London,’ Davey urged him. ‘There are many in government who know your worth and would welcome your help, especially now, with the unrest in France.’

‘Mayhap I will, but I would be happier to do that if those matchmaking dragons would leave me alone.’

‘There is a simple answer to that,’ remarked Davey. ‘Take a wife.’

‘Never!’ Guy shook his head, laughing. ‘Now that…’ he grinned, kicking his horse into a canter ‘…is a step too far!’

A speedy chase along the ridge followed but when they reached the highest point Guy brought his horse to a stand and looked around him, enjoying the freedom of the wide open space. He thought he could smell the sea on the light breeze, even though they were nearly thirty miles from the coast.

‘Are you sorry now that you suggested we should stay on here?’ he asked as Davey came alongside him. ‘Would you have preferred to go on to Osmond’s house with the others?’

‘Not at all! Much as I like having a large party at Highridge, I prefer this: we can do away with ceremony, rise when we wish, do what we want and talk or not, as the mood takes us.’

Guy reached across to lay a hand briefly on Davey’s shoulder.

‘You have been a good friend to me, I appreciate that. Always there to support me, even when the whole world thought the worst—’

‘Nay, there were plenty of us who realised you were not to blame, even though you preferred not to defend yourself. Too chivalrous by half, Guy.’

‘What would you have had me do?’

Davey scowled. ‘Put the blame squarely where it belonged.’

Guy shook his head.

‘The woman had fled the country: my protests would have looked very ungallant.’

‘Gallantry be damned,’ exclaimed Davey. ‘You gave up a promising career for that woman and robbed the country of a most able politician! Your talents have been wasted, Darrington.’

‘Not at all. I have spent my time putting my estates back into good heart. My father almost bankrupted the family, you know, with his profligate ways. And it was useful to be in the north while my scapegrace brother Nick was away—I could keep an eye upon his estates.’

‘But it must be five years since he settled down. Surely you might make a push now to return to politics.’

‘To be subjected to ridicule and constantly reminded of my disgrace?’ Guy stared out across the hills. ‘No, I thank you!’ He gave himself a mental shake. ‘But this is dismal stuff for such a fine September day! Let us press on. What else did you wish to show me?’

Realising confidences were at an end, Davey pointed to the north-west.

‘Thought you might like to visit Mount Grace Priory. I know the family, so there will be no difficulty seeing the ruins. I know you have an interest in antiquities of that sort.’ He grinned. ‘Not quite in keeping with the image of the Dangerous Lord Darrington, which is why I didn’t suggest it while the others were here.’

Guy laughed. ‘Much I care about that! But you are right, they would not have enjoyed such a visit.’ He glanced up at the sun. ‘But it is midday already—is there time?’

‘Of course. We can spend a couple of hours looking at the ruins, then take the lower route back to Highridge, stopping at Boltby. The inn there is famous for its dinners.’

‘Very well, then, let us go to it!’

In perfect accord the two gentlemen set off at a canter, enjoying the freedom of the hills before they were obliged once more to descend to the lower ground.

The ruins of Mount Grace had occupied most of their afternoon and by the time they set off again for Highridge the sun was far to the west.

‘Looks like rain is coming,’ observed Guy, eyeing the heavy grey clouds building on the horizon.

‘We should crack along if we are to avoid a soaking,’ agreed Davey. ‘Come along then; mayhap we’ll forgo dinner at Boltby and cut across country. What do you say?’

‘Why not? We have been jumping these walls for the past couple of weeks; my horse is accustomed to it now.’ Davey laughed.

‘It will be the muddier route, but that will make the roaring fire and rum punch all the more enjoyable when we get home!’

Hot Read

Last Updated


Top Books