Of Rakes and Reputations

“Er, sorry?”

“Did he touch you, Samantha?”

I sighed, finally comprehending now. “Oh, no. No, Louisa. Lord Windham is many things, but he’s not a rake. He’s not like Mr. de Grave.” I really hadn’t meant to say that last sentence aloud. I clapped a hand over my mouth.

But my guardian just smiled a thin-lipped smile and then pursed her mouth. “Good. I’m glad he doesn’t share the same reputation as his friend. I’m well aware of de Grave’s reputation, Samantha. I may be old, and I might be an unmarried spinster, but I still have my wits intact and I can spot a rake when I see one.”

I leaned forward. “Then why do you allow Isabelle to be courted by Mr. de Grave? Aren’t you concerned for her reputation?”

Louisa sighed, looking tired. “Isabelle knows what she’s doing. This is just an innocent dalliance and she will ensure it is kept that way. Besides, de Grave will soon tire of her.”

But remembering how my cousin had looked at de Grave last night, I knew that she wouldn’t be tiring of him any time soon.


1 week later…

After my prescribed week of bed-rest, Louisa decided to whisk Isabelle and me away to Bath for two weeks. Candace and two of our maids would be accompanying us.

“The sea air will set you right again, dear,” Candace said as she picked up the vase on my table. She hummed as she took out the bouquet of withering red roses from inside the vase and threw it into the wastebasket in the corner. Somehow, the bright bunch of daisies now filling the vase didn’t cheer my spirits as it normally did. I reasoned it was because I was still feeling listless from my being sick.

“Will you be wanting the white valise or the pink, Miss Samantha?”

I turned away from the wastebasket, distracted. “Hmm? Oh, I think the white, Candace. Since we’ll be gone for two weeks I’ll need the larger of the two.”

“Wise choice, miss. I’ll go and fetch it now.”

As Candace exited the room, Isabelle entered in her wake. Her features were uncharacteristically arranged in a frown.

“Two whole weeks, Sam! How will we bear it?”

I absentmindedly took a withered rose out of the wastebasket and twirled it in my fingers.

The End

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