A Pitiful Remnant
A marriage of convenience? How dreadfully inconvenient...
"...a pure delight."~~Jane Bowers, Romance Reviews Today
Clarence was relieved to see Miss Hi--his wife--relaxing in the sitting room. There was much they must say to each other, and the sooner it was done, the sooner they would begin to rub along together smoothly. He contained his impatience while Nettles saw him settled on the chaise, while Carleton fussed with the tray holding the cordial they forced upon him twice daily, fetched a glass from the breakfront cabinet, and unfolded the rug.
"That will be all," he said, as soon as he was established. "Thank you."
"Carleton, I admit to weakness in my leg and a certain lightheadedness when I have been on my feet for too long, but I am not ill. I am newly wedded, and my...my wife and I would like to be alone. We will ring if we need you."
"No, Nettles. I do not need you to stay with me. Miss...Lady Guillemot is more than competent to cross the room and ring for you or Carleton, should I need you." He forced himself to smile, despite wanting nothing more than to relax into a semi-reclining position and close his eyes.
"Yes, sor." Nettles turned to face Miss...
Damnation! She is my wife. Why can I not remember that?
"You'll not let him get overtired, my lady?"
"I will take very good care of him, fear not. Thank you both." There was no doubt that her words were a dismissal.
At least she knew how to deal with servants. Clarence had wondered, coming as she did, from a farmhouse. Poor girl. She was in for a difficult period of adjustment. While Guillemot was not one of the great houses of England, it was one of the old ones, and it had its traditions. Traditions he was determined to continue.
When the door closed behind Nettles and Carleton, he lay back and let himself relax. The double vision that had plagued him ever since he'd landed on his head when his horse was shot from under him had finally reduced itself to a slight blurring when he tired. He hoped the doctor was telling the truth, that it would eventually disappear entirely. His left wrist and leg, while both still weak, were slowly getting stronger. Only the still draining wound in his right buttock remained a problem. What a joke. Shot in the arse. Wouldn't Rodney...
No, Rodney wouldn't laugh his fool head off. Rodney was dead. Along with so many more. Men he'd fought beside for four long years, comrades he'd loved like brothers.
"Are you in pain?"
He kept his eyes closed. "No. Not more than usual. Just tired. I don't seem to have the stamina I should."
"Would you... Can you tell me about your wounds?"
"I'd rather not. They are really quite tiresome."
"My lord, I did not ask out of idle curiosity. I've long thought that human wounds are little different from those suffered by animals. For the past six years, I have treated our livestock and our people when they were cut, broken, or shot."
He opened his mouth, but before he could speak, she went on.
"Yes, my lord, shot. While we fought no battles at Ackerslea, we did see our share of hunting accidents, particularly when we opened the woods to hunting."
"Now, will you tell me about your injuries?"
"I fell on my head. Concussion, the doctor said; it's all but healed. I was struck on the wrist by something heavy--a club, perhaps--and it apparently broke several small bones. At least that's what the sawbones on the ship said. My left leg was broken in the retreat and rebroken during the battle for the gates of Coruña." He opened his eyes and watched her carefully as he spoke the last sentence. "And I was shot in the...the right buttock."
She didn't smile, gave no indication she thought the location of his wound was amusing. "Tell me about your treatment."
"I hardly think--"
"My lord, we have much work ahead of us, putting your estate back in condition and seeing to the spring planting at Ackerslea. You are no good to me flat on your back. If my healing skills can help you, we would be abrogating our responsibilities if we did not make use of them. I think you'd better let me have a look at your injuries."
"Oh, don't worry. I've seen a man's naked buttock before."