I waited until Candace and the maid had left the room and then pushed back the covers and ran to the table. I had to hold the table with both hands to steady my legs, I felt that dizzy, but it soon passed.
I found a small envelope hidden in the flowers – the fattest, reddest roses I’d ever seen – and tore it open, taking out the card with trembling fingers.
Please forgive me for leaving the ball so early last night. I pray you will allow me to call on you today at 4 o’clock to apologise in person. Until then, please accept these roses as a token of our new friendship.
If the weather is fine and Lady H. permits, we may even go driving in my phaeton.
Until then, I am ever…
I had barely finished reading it before I heard Candace’s unmistakable step in the hall, so I dashed back to bed with the card, tucking it under my pillow.
Soon the doctor arrived and announced that I had a head cold. He prescribed no less than seven days of bed rest.
After I got over the initial disappointment, I asked Candace to fetch Isabelle to me as soon as possible.
“Oh, Miss Sam, didn’t she tell you? Izzie went to the library with Lady Huxtable and Mr. de Grave.”
I had wanted to see if Isabelle could send a note over to Lord Windham so that he would know not to come. I didn’t want one of the nosy maids taking the note – they would surely relay the information back to my guardian. I wasn’t quite sure how Lady Huxtable would feel about Lord Windham coming to call on me.
Lady Huxtable was not as strict with my cousin, Isabelle, as she was with me. Perhaps it was because Isabelle wasn’t her ward and was staying with us just for the season.
She would probably be impressed with Lord Windham’s title, but I knew from prior experience that she frowned upon my being seen in public with another man without a chaperon (i.e., Lady Huxtable) present. Better to wait until she returned before I set up any future meetings with Lord Windham.
In the meantime it looked like one of the maids would have to relay the message to Lord Windham after all. I’d deal with the consequences later.
I got out of bed again, this time to fetch some stationary and my quill. I felt too weak to sit at my desk, so I brought everything back to bed with me and wrote the message there.
Dear Mr. Windham,
Thank you for the beautiful flowers. Unfortunately I am currently unable to receive any callers as I seem to have contracted my guardian’s cold and was prescribed bed rest for a week.
I look forward to our next meeting and will be in touch again soon.
I realized I needed Lord Windham’s address, which was probably on the envelope that came with his card. I saw where it lay, on the floor under the table, where it had most likely fallen when I had torn it open to read the card. However, I decided to rest my eyes for just a minute before standing up again. I was still feeling dizzy and the warmth of my bed felt so delicious…