So the butler left to receive Lady Harrows and her servants.
Isabel straightened with the anticipation of meeting this lady. That voice had been so commanding. Like, if you didn't listen you weren't doing anyone a favor. And you might burn in hell.
No, maybe she was being a little too dramatic about this. But were Lydia and the others really right in being so afraid of her? Even Jocelyn had winced at the mention of the lady staying here for the season. Is wasn't like Isabel herself was afraid yet. She had never even met Lady Harrows.
As Isabel heard footsteps in the hall, she tried to make last-minute eye contact with Grace. Perhaps she could just come clean about being a time-traveller. . . .no, that would send her straight to a nineteenth-century looney bin!
Whatever. It's not like I can't fool her. I only need to stay long enough to find out where James keeps the treasures hidden and then I can go home.
The doors to the parlor opened, but only Vance Hartfeld entered.
"Lady Harrows." he announced. Isabel could almost feel the poker-faced look that he gave St. Claire as he stepped aside to let their guest in.
Isabel tried to stand even straighter as Lady Harrows stepped into the room.
She was about the same height was Isabel herself. She had a nice face that would have been beautiful when she was young. Her clothes were the height of fashion. Her entire seemed stiff, dignified, and self-ritcheous.
Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness!
"Mama." Grace greeted her mother with, what seemed to Isabel, a manner that had been practiced many times. "How was your tirp?"
"I had to have a wheel replaced on the way because some spokes broke while we were driving, but there was nothing else wrong with the trip. It was perfeclty adequate. Now where is your husband? I must greet him before going to my room."
"Hello. It pleases me to see you again, Mama-in-law." St. Claire stepped forward to greet Lady Harrows.
"Hello, James. Grace, darling, who is this young person standing in your parlor so nervously?"
So Judi Dench! She is so Judi Dench! Isabel felt her heart racing. If this was a movie, Lady Harrows would have to be played by Judi Dench. And Isabel could watch and just marvel at her character rather then be standing here in 1873 being introduced to someone who was supposed to be her adopted grandmother!
"This is Isabel." St. Claire was saying. "The young girl Grace mentioned in her last letter to you. We were hoping you could help us give her some training before we introduce her into society."
"Training?" Lady Harrows raised an eyebrow, skeptical. "Why on earth would you do that? Son-in-law, it is one thing to pull a young person out of the gutter, but another entirely to raise that person up into into our society. Why, such a thing is hardly possible. I don't even see the point of adopting her."
What? Isabel almost wanted to scream. The whole adoption thing was already done. Why did this lady have to be so rude?
"I told you that the adoption has already gone through." Grace put a hand on Isabel's shoulder and shot her a quick look, as if telling her not to speak yet. "James believes that she has potential, and you know that I trust him when it comes to matters of intuition."
"Intuition indeed." Lady Harrows scoffed, as if to herself.
"It's true, Mama." Grace said. "He is very intuitive. But this is not the place to discuss this. Isabel should not hear such words."
"Well, we can discuss this later. I must rest for now. But I do not expect this incident to unfold the way your husband has planned." Lady Harrows turned to leave the parlor. "Life is not a fairy tale!" she muttered.
"Then what do you have to lose?" Isabel spoke up.
Lady Harrows turned around in surprise, as if she hadn't expected Isabel to talk. "Whatever do you mean?"
"If it's as impossible as you say, then what do you have to lose?" Isabel demanded. "Extra time? No one knows but us who I am or where I came from. You could even call me an orphan if it suits your purpose. The only thing that concerns me is the lack if faith in your own family!" "
"In my own family? I have never even met you, child." the lady replied. "Why, if you had been adopted when you were much younger, perhaps I could consider you a member of the St. Claire household-"
"I meant James." Isabel interrupted. "He's your son-in-law, isn't he? Trust me when I say that I would never speak like this in public. But here, I will say that if people knew how you spoke about his intuition, they could only agree with you or call you the crazy one!"
Lady Harrows' eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. "I do not need a mere peasant to lecture me on matters of faith. Do you expect me to wish to train you now that you have spoken in such a manner to me?"
Yeah, such a manner, indeed. Isabel replied silently, glaring at her new adversary.
"Well? What do you expect of me, child?"
Isabel took a deep breath, then let it out quickly. "Lady Harrows." she said. "I will answer your question if you will answer mine: if you think that this won't work, then what will you have to lose but some extra time? No one knows about me but the servants, and now you as well.