The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy(9)

By: Julia Quinn

Mrs. Smythe-Smith did what she always did when she did not wish to reply. Her brows rose, her chin dipped, and she gave a disdainful sniff.

Conversation over. At least that particular thread.

“Winston Bevelstoke isn’t a rake,” Daisy said, tacking a bit to the right. “He was seated near the front.”

Iris snorted.

“He’s gorgeous!”

“I never said that he wasn’t,” Iris replied. “But he must be nearly thirty. And he was in the fifth row.”

That seemed to mystify their mother. “The fifth—”

“It’s certainly not the front,” Iris cut in. Blast it all, she hated when people got the little details wrong.

“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” Daisy said. “It doesn’t matter where he was sitting. All that matters is that he was there.”

This was correct, but still, so clearly not the salient point. “Winston Bevelstoke would never be interested in a girl of seventeen,” Iris said.

“Why wouldn’t he be?” Daisy demanded. “I think you’re jealous.”

Iris rolled her eyes. “That is so far from the truth I can’t even begin to say.”

“He was watching me,” Daisy insisted. “That he is as yet unmarried speaks to his selectiveness. Perhaps he has simply been waiting for the perfect young lady to come along.”

Iris took a breath, quelling the retort tickling at her lips. “If you marry Winston Bevelstoke,” she said calmly, “I shall be the first to congratulate you.”

Daisy’s eyes narrowed. “She’s being sarcastic again, Mama.”

“Don’t be sarcastic, Iris,” Maria Smythe-Smith said, never taking her eyes from her embroidery.

Iris scowled at her mother’s rote scolding.

“Who was that gentleman with Mr. Bevelstoke last night?” Mrs. Smythe-Smith asked. “The one with the dark hair.”

“He was talking to Iris,” Daisy said, “after the performance.”

Mrs. Smythe-Smith fixed a shrewd stare upon Iris. “I know.”

“His name is Sir Richard Kenworthy,” Iris said.

Her mother’s brows rose.

“I’m sure he was being polite,” Iris said.

“He was being polite for a very long time,” Daisy giggled.

Iris looked at her in disbelief. “We spoke for five minutes. If that.”

“It’s more time than most gentleman talk to you.”

“Daisy, don’t be unkind,” their mother said, “but I must agree. I do think it was more than five minutes.”

“It wasn’t,” Iris muttered.

Her mother did not hear her. Or more likely, chose to ignore. “We shall have to find out more about him.”

Iris’s mouth opened into an indignant oval. Five minutes she’d spent in Sir Richard’s company, and her mother was already plotting the poor man’s demise.

“You’re not getting any younger,” Mrs. Smythe-Smith said.

Daisy smirked.

“Fine,” Iris said. “I shall attempt to capture his interest for a full quarter of an hour next time. That ought to be enough to send for a special license.”

“Oh, do you think so?” Daisy asked. “That would be so romantic.”

Iris could only stare. Now Daisy missed the sarcasm?

“Anyone can be married in a church,” Daisy said. “But a special license is special.”

“Hence the name,” Iris muttered.

“They cost a terrific amount of money,” Daisy continued, “and they don’t give them out to just anybody.”

“Your sisters were all properly married in church,” their mother said, “and so shall you be.”

That put an end to the conversation for at least five seconds. Which was about how long Daisy could manage to sit in silence. “What are you reading?” she asked, craning her neck toward Iris.

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