Page 12 of The Husband Season

‘Indeed, I do.’

 ‘Were they all handsome and rich? Did they have titles?’

 ‘One was handsome and tolerably rich, one was a baronet and one a lord, but none combined all the attributes I am looking for. The lord was a widower with two children. I have no wish to be a second wife. I had no difficulty in rejecting them.’ She was boasting again, although she had said nothing that was not true and was amused by the expression on Cassandra’s face, a mixture of shock and incredulity.

 ‘What manner of man are you looking for?’

 ‘The same as every other young lady, I expect. Handsome, rich and titled, but he must be kind, considerate and care about the things I care about, and he must of all things be wildly in love with me, as I must be with him.’

 ‘You and I think alike, Sophie. Let us hope we are not both vying for the same man, if such a man can be found who is single and looking for a wife.’

 ‘Tell me about the dance.’ Sophie felt they had exhausted the topic of future husbands and she was feeling a little guilty over her boastfulness. It was not at all how she felt inside. ‘What shall you wear?’

 ‘Mama will not allow colours until after I have my come-out later in the Season, so white it will have to be, but I can have a coloured sash and coloured ribbons in my hair. Which colour would suit me, do you think?’

 Sophie stopped walking to turn towards her. ‘Green,’ she said. ‘Definitely green, it will enhance the colour of your eyes. And green slippers, of course.’

 Cassandra clapped her hands. ‘Yes, I am sure Mama will allow that. What about you? You are very fair and have blue eyes, so perhaps blue for you. Or maybe pink. Do you like pink?’

 ‘It depends on the shade, but I like blue best. I have a lovely blue ball gown in my luggage and a rose-pink gauze evening gown.’

 ‘You mean the whole dress is coloured, not white?’

 ‘I hate white. It may look delightful on you, but it makes me look insipid.’

 ‘Will your aunt allow it?’

 ‘I don’t see why not.’

 ‘But you will be defying convention.’

 ‘Pooh to convention.’

 Cassandra laughed. ‘Oh, I can see you are going to set the ton by the ears.’

 Sophie joined in the laughter. ‘That is the whole idea.’ She paused. ‘The gowns shall be a secret until the night I wear them, so do not say anything of them to your mama.’

 ‘I won’t. Shall we go back indoors? Lady Cartrose will be taking her leave by now.’

 They returned to the drawing room to find that Cassandra’s brother, Vincent, had arrived and their departure was delayed while Sophie was introduced to him.

 He was very like Cassandra in looks, half a head taller than she was and rather too thin to be called handsome. He was dressed in a dark grey coat and lighter grey pantaloons. His neckcloth was extravagantly tied and his shirt points starched to a board. They certainly made him keep his head up. His dark hair was cut short and curled towards his face. He bowed to her and took her hand. ‘How do you do, Miss Cavenhurst. I am told that you will be gracing the Rowlands’ dance with us. I shall look forward to that.’

 She withdrew her hand and smiled at him. ‘You are too kind.’

 ‘Come, Sophie,’ Emmeline said. ‘We have time for a turn around the park before going home. Lord Wyndham is to dine with us, so we shall have a little company this evening.’

 They took their leave and, once they were seated in the barouche and trotting along Brook Street towards Park Lane, her aunt asked her what she thought of Cassandra.

 ‘I think we shall deal very well together,’ Sophie said, speaking very loudly into her aunt’s ear. ‘She already thinks of me as her friend.’

 ‘Good. That means you will have a companion for outings when I cannot go with you. What did you think of Vincent?’

 ‘I really did not think of him at all, Aunt. We met so briefly.’

 ‘He is an admirable young man, and though he does not have a title, he will come into a considerable fortune when he inherits. In the meantime he is employed in his father’s law firm.’

 ‘If he is anything like Teddy, he doesn’t do much work there.’ She was obliged to repeat this twice before her aunt comprehended.

 ‘You are unkind to your brother, Sophie. I collect he worked very hard when he was in India, for he made a fortune there, enough to get himself and your papa out of dun country by all accounts.’