The Duchess (Montgomery/Taggert 16) - Page 51

“He is Captain Baker,” she said, and there was anger in her voice.


“I want to know about him. I want to know what he’s doing here and why he’s hiding.”

Harry had never seen her so agitated, her face so flushed, her eyes so bright. “Claire, have you fallen in love with him?”

“No,” she said, and he could see the honesty in her eyes. “I have not fallen in love with him.”

Harry breathed a sigh of relief at that, but then he frowned. It was his experience that when a woman said she wanted to talk about something, it often meant hours and hours of talk. He thought with longing of his dinner. He opened the door, told the footman to bring his dinner to him in the blue drawing room and that he was not to be disturbed.

“Now, my dear, why don’t you tell me what Vellie has done to upset you so much?” He wanted to know how much his brother had told her, how much she knew of the truth of how Trevelyan was related to his family.

She started talking

in a flood of words. Harry’d always had the impression that she was a quiet little thing, with few words in her—one of the best things about her to his way of thinking—but now there were as many words as he’d ever heard. She told about days spent with Trevelyan. She told of Vellie’s having taken her to visit old man MacTarvit. She told of walks and meals and reading his books.

She stopped talking when the dinner was brought and placed on the big table in the room. When the servants were gone and they were again alone, Harry began to eat, but Claire paced the room and talked to him.

“You don’t know what Captain Baker has meant to my life. I have studied his work; I have studied his life. I know a great deal about him.”

For the life of him Harry could not figure out what Trevelyan had done that had so upset her. Was it that he had lied to her? Was keeping his identity a secret what was making her so angry?

It was when she started to tell of finding the drawings of herself, some of those dreadful caricatures of Vellie’s, that he began to understand. The first time Harry had seen the cartoons Trevelyan had drawn of him he had been insulted as he’d never been before or since. Trevelyan had depicted him as a little boy in ringlets, physically attached to his mother, as though they were one person. Sometimes Trevelyan had shown him as having his mother’s face and his mother as having Harry’s.

Harry started to tell her that Trevelyan made those cartoons of everyone. Harry had seen some drawings that Vellie had made of himself that were almost vicious. Trevelyan often depicted himself as a fool, a man who trusted all the wrong people and was always betrayed.

But something made Harry hesitate. He hadn’t been aware that Claire was spending so much time with his brother. He had assumed that she was doing whatever women did with their days. It was a shock to find out that she had spent days and nights with him, had even traveled through the tunnels with him.

“Trevelyan can be quite unkind,” Harry said, his mouth full. He watched her. “But women usually like him.”

“I did too. I thought of him as my friend, but he was using me. He was studying me. He wrote about me as though I were one of his savages and he was observing my bizarre customs.”

“Won’t you have some of this roast beef? It’s cooked perfectly.”

Claire sat down at the table and Harry put a slice of beef on her plate, but she didn’t eat. “Tell me about him. What has made him so cold, so much without feeling?”

That startled Harry. Trevelyan a man without feeling? Trevelyan was the angriest, most emotional man alive.

“Why is he here? Why have you taken him in?”

“What did he tell you about his kindred to my family?” Harry held his breath, waiting for her answer. Trevelyan said that he didn’t want the dukedom, but all he had to do was change his mind and Harry would be out in the cold. He would have some money from his mother, but not much else. That is, he would have nothing if he lost his heiress—which he did not mean to do.

“He says he’s a cousin of sorts.”

“Yes, he is. He is related to me, just as the other people in this house are.”

“And you take care of them,” she said, looking into Harry’s beautiful eyes.

“I do my best,” he said modestly.

Claire left the table to start pacing again. “Explain his name to me. Why does he keep his identity a secret?”

Harry took his time in answering. “He was sent away from his home when he was nine years old.”

“To school?”

“No. As far as I know, Trevelyan has never been to a formal school.”

Tags: Jude Deveraux Montgomery/Taggert Historical
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