Hearts Adrift – Part Twenty-Nine

Chapter Twenty-Nine   A discreet knock on the chapel door startled them both so unexpectedly that they almost jumped apart. “Come in,” Richard summoned, and Thornton entered in his usual dignified manner. “Sir, you have a visitor from London, a Mr Blenkinsop. He says he is Sir Jeremy’s man of business. His Lordship is out riding so I have put Mr Blenkinsop in the drawing room. Perhaps you might want to receive him in his Lordship’s absence? He says he has extremely urgent business with Sir Jeremy.” “Very well,” Richard recollected himself and followed his butler. Manon trotted after them, … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Eight   Two weeks passed in relative peace, so that Manon was able to go to Greenhaven to check on how Mrs Lynver fared. Pru who had gone there a few days before Manon, told her that she had secured the services of a young Cornish physician, Dr Trevellyan. Together with the staff of nurses they managed to stem the constant daily tide of sufferers to a reasonable amount. Manon returned to Bearsham Manor on the tenth of August. She found her uncle much improved in strength and in spirits, although he was still in need of rest. After … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Seven   “Whoohoo!” Jéhan’s cry of delight instantly brought his sister back to reality. “Hush, mon chou! It is a secret. No one must know we are searching for the treasure yet.” Jéhan’s eyes shone with delight. There was nothing her little brother loved more than to play hide-and-seek or pirates-and-villains. Jake Davies was scrutinizing Manon in a puzzled way. He had been a London street urchin until he was rescued from starvation by Richard’s father. Playing hide-and-seek had been essential to staying alive in the grimy rookeries of London. However, he had a hard time imagining what Manon … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Six   “Now turn onto your back,” Manon asked. “Slowly, mind!” Richard complied but had to bite his lip to forgo crying out with the excruciating pain. By Jove, that hurt! He could not fathom how it was possible that he had not broken any bones when Spartacus had thrown him off. Manon repeated the gestures she had made on his back, this time on his chest, and she applied the poultice to his torso. Lord! That was an even greater torture. Her hands were sparkling fire wherever she rubbed. He begged for strength and closed his eyes in … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Five   Manon did not, could not, believe her ears. That tone had been one of sheer spite if she had ever heard one. But then, that could not be right, could it? A mother who regretted the fact that her only son would indeed regain his health after an uncommonly severe fall, it was unthinkable. Slowly turning on her heels, Manon eyed the dowager with what she hoped was a reassuring smile. Better to keep up appearances. “Yes, my lady, of course he will. He is young and healthy and with the proper care, which I fully intend … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Four   Manon carefully retracted the sheet just a few inches. Richard was lying on his back, and now she would be able to examine his ribcage more thoroughly for broken bones. Her skilful hands gently probed, looking for damage. As she had already assumed, there were no real fractures. Because Richard’s ribs had sustained considerable bruising, she decided to apply a firm bandage. He would have to keep himself immobile for at least a week. But first and foremost, Manon wanted her uncle to be properly groomed, so she asked Bright to perform this task, and then retreated … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Three   Manon’s heart skipped several beats, then began racing wildly. A fear as black as night enveloped her, threatening to paralyze her. She staggered backwards until she felt the much-needed support of a wall. Her knees buckled only for a second, but she steeled herself; this was not the time to faint and be missish. She had to leave at once for Bearsham Manor. “Pru, would you please arrange matters with Matron so that the daily running of Greenhaven is secured?” she said simply and handed Jake’s letter to her friend, who read it at once. Pru blanched … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Twenty-Two

  Chapter Twenty-Two   In Brighton, Manon devoted herself to the running of the infirmary, due to her desire to ensure everything was firmly established. Richard wanted her to come to Bearsham Manor at the beginning of August, and that moment was fast approaching. It would be marvellous to see Richard’s estate, knowing how proud he was of his ancestral home. Manon also longed to see her little brother again. She fiercely missed Jéhan and was eager to know how much he had learned under Jake’s tutelage. The letters that Jake sent her weekly only teased Manon’s appetite for learning … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-One   “I hate him.” The sentence was uttered through clenched teeth, in a voice, low with malice. Mildred de Briers stood looking over Bearsham Manor’s sunny lawn from the window of her boudoir when she spoke the words that had simmered in her heart for twenty-seven years. “Yes…” The voice of her lover drawled, “you have said that before, more times than I care to recall, darling. It is time you acted upon it.” Mildred turned towards her large four-poster bed, where Jeremy Lawson lay sprawled in all his splendid nakedness. They had just made love, and Mildred, … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Twenty

Chapter Twenty   At The Wild Rose, Richard found Pritchard, on duty as he always was. The rest of his staff, his housekeeper, his cook, and all the footmen and maids, even the tweenie and scullery maid were at the infirmary. It seemed that Manon had commandeered his entire staff into her service. Since even her maid Bessie was absent, Richard carried Manon to her room and laid her on the bed. She had not stirred, not even when he removed her apron, shoes, stockings and mobcap. Not even when he spread a blanket over her and tucked her in. … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Nineteen

Chapter Nineteen Richard was furious. In fact, he could not recall ever having been so outraged in his whole life. He had done his utmost to provide Manon with the best of opportunities to organize her life, and look what the foolish chit made of it! What was his niece thinking? Setting up an infirmary, of all things! It was unthinkable! Yet here was her letter, written in a tiny, neat hand, explaining that she would be searching for suitable premises near Brighton Port and that she would need to employ staff to help her. In a totally candid manner, … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Seventeen

Chapter Seventeen   The dilapidated hovel could hardly be called a house, Manon mused. It was not much better than a shed. The notion that poor Mrs Harrows lived here with six small children made her cringe. Mrs Harrows was Queenie’s mother. The little scullery maid had turned to Mrs Petheridge in despair when her older sister Patsy came to The Wild Rose for help, wailing that her mother was so terribly ill. Mrs Petheridge was an excellent cook but knew nothing of sickness and how to treat it. She wisely informed Miss Butterworth of the news. Pru Butterworth being … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Sixteen

Chapter Sixteen   In the two weeks that followed the ball, Manon was swept into a flurry of activity attending balls and soirées and enjoying outings to the park and riding journeys. Lucian was her attentive groom when she went riding while Marcus Lascombe, a charming fair-haired giant with dreamy blue eyes was Manon’s usual companion for the theatre. His brother Joseph, considerably shorter than Marcus, was a slender, handsome and amiable man who loved to take her out for poetry evenings. Then there were a number of other young bucks, scarcely older than Manon who endeavoured to ask her … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Fifteen

Chapter Fifteen   When the cotillion ended, Richard led Blanche to a seat. He then bid her leave to go and see to his many other guests, whom he had been neglecting somewhat. She graciously released him and turned to a girl whom she knew from childhood but had not seen since. Richard hastened after his niece – he had forgotten all else, after he noticed the paleness of her face when she left the dance floor. But where was Manon? Standing in the doorway to the entrance hall, he scanned the crowd gathered there, which was easy because of … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Fourteen

Chapter Fourteen   On the first Thursday of July, a sumptuous ball was given by Richard de Briers, Baronet Bearsham, in his townhouse, to present his niece, Miss Manon Favier to the Brighton society. Standing near the large, high ballroom windows, Richard was watching the line of dancers that occupied the floor in an intricate country dance. All the dancers were part of Brighton’s ton, and the coastal town’s society was rapidly increasing, due to the Prince Regent’s presence. There was, of course, his best friend, Lucian Blackthorne, Viscount Rossiter, who was at present leading Manon between the lines. There … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Twelve

Chapter Twelve   The ride to Brighton was to take six hours, necessitating a stop in Hastings for luncheon. The Saxon and Norman Inn, near Hastings Castle, served a decent shepherd’s pie and boasted an appreciable amber-coloured ale by the name of “Coxcomb”. Lucian Blackthorne, Viscount Rossiter requested the private parlour for his party. During the meal, Richard kept himself in the background, responding only when a direct question was addressed to him, glad that his friend Lucian was not drawing him into the conversation. Lucian started lecturing about the famous Battle of Hastings in 1066 and the subsequent conquering … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Eleven

Chapter Eleven   Manon woke when Bessy knocked and entered the room with a tray of tea and toast. “Sir Lucian’s compliments, miss; and would you join the gentlemen in the breakfast room when you are dressed?” the girl said in a cheerful voice. “Thank you, Bessy,” Manon answered, glancing surreptitiously around the room. She was lying naked under her covers, and she was terrified the maid would find out. He was not here. Understanding why did nothing to dampen down the wave of burning grief that washed over her as disappointment struck. He had left her after he lifted … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Ten

Chapter Ten   Manon’s proposition made perfect sense. Richard’s logical mind acknowledged Manon’s words, and his foolish heart welcomed them, of course. It was true that he loved her, and he knew beyond all doubt that she loved him back. Despite the fact that he knew they could never be husband and wife, Richard was overwhelmed by true, unmitigated happiness, because his Manon loved him. His Manon? Yes, it was the undeniable truth. She was Lily’s daughter, and Lily had been the light of his life. Manon, so like Lily, had come to fill the hole in his heart that … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Nine

Chapter Nine Lucian’s carriage was a large chaise-and-four, drawn by four splendid matching greys. It would cover the twenty-three miles in less than three hours. They were heading for Lucian’s estate, Whitehaven, near Romney in Kent. Jéhan was fast asleep, snuggled up in a blanket against Lucian. Jake was sitting next to the coachman on the bench, while Manon and Richard occupied the bench opposite Lucian. Night had fallen, and as the carriage rolled on through the quiet countryside, Manon felt her body go limp with fatigue. Her head lolled as her eyes grew heavy, and eventually, she could no … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Eight

Chapter Eight   As Richard had foreseen, they reached Boulogne in three days, but it was night when they entered the small seaside town. As a precaution, they had not slept at inns the two previous nights, after they had spotted a company of soldiers camped near the village of Quend, fifteen miles north of Abbeville. Instead, they had made camp in the woods lining the road. It had been uncomfortable, but not overly so, because the June nights were balmy. With Jake and Jéhan present, it also proved bearable to sleep close to Richard, Manon found. She took her … Read more