Lord Harry by Catherine Coulter

Lord Harry by Catherine Coulter

Lord Harry by Catherine Coulter

Chapter One

“Lord Harry? Lord Harry, are you ready yet? You’ve been an age and your friends are getting impatient.” Pottson pressed his ear to the closed door to hear the reply, for he couldn’t enter unless given permission.

Lord Harry gave his cravat a final twitch, decided enough was enough, and called out, “I’m ready, Pottson, you may come in now.”

Although Mr. Scuddimore and Sir Harry Brandon were comfortably seated near the fireplace in the small parlor down the hall, Pottson looked back to make sure before he went into Lord Harry’s bedchamber. He stood in the doorway, critically eyeing Lord Harry’s appearance, as was his habit and duty. “By heavens, you’ve become an accomplished dandy,” he said with a humorless grin after inspecting Lord Harry’s shining black hessians, fawn breeches, and Weston coat of dark blue superfine. “And just what would that creation be called?” he asked, his eyes on the white starched cravat twined artfully about Lord Harry’s neck.

“I call it A Clever Copy of Lord Alvaney, Pottson. I’ve been practicing for hours at home. It’s three folds under and two over and then a few quick turns of the wrist. I don’t think I’ve done too badly. I drew a quick sketch of his lordship’s cravat at White’s one afternoon. Hopefully, the gentleman in question didn’t notice. And I’ve changed the style sufficiently so that he shouldn’t recognize it as his own.” Lord Harry followed Pottson’s eyes as he looked at the hopelessly rumpled cravats Lord Harry had thrown aside, and grinned. “Come now, I only ruined seven cravats this time. I’ve heard it said that the Beau rarely achieved perfection before his twelfth try.”

“Well, that don’t make it any less work cleaning up after you.” Pottson swiped up the discarded cravats. “At least you don’t go trying to ape those tightknit pantaloons the gentlemen wear. You still have the good sense for that, I hope.” Pottson’s grumbling had grown markedly less severe with repetition. Lord Harry gave a hearty laugh, perhaps a trifle high in pitch for a gentleman grown, but certainly passable for a young buck of nineteen or twenty. “I’m not such a fool as that. Of course, Scuddy and Sir Harry are forever twitting me about my abominably fitting breeches. They think me still a rustic in my tastes. It’s fortunate for me that their minds aren’t of a more tenacious bent.”

There was a loud knock on the bedroom door and both Lord Harry and Pottson froze to the spot. “Ho, Harry,” Scuddy called out. “We’re already late for the first act. Dawdle much longer, you young fop, and Harry and I will come in and drag you out.”

“Go about your business, Scuddy. Drink some more of my excellent brandy. I’ll be ready in a minute, two at the most.”

Pottson groaned aloud and mopped his forehead with a wrinkled cravat, but only after he was certain that he heard retreating footsteps from the bedroom door. “You’re making an old man of me, Lord Harry. I’ve got more gray hairs than I can count now.”

“All your hair is gray, Pottson. Stop complaining.”

“I’m not complaining, just telling the truth. My heart nearly bounded into my throat. That young Scuddimore, I’ll just bet he and Sir Harry have drunk a good bottle of that brandy you stole from your father’s cellars. I’ve had no more than the smallest nip of it.”

Lord Harry grinned and patted Pottson on the arm. “Take a good snort after we leave, you deserve it. Come on, stop sweating like a stoat. We’ve come through unscathed so far. Trust me to carry it off. For God’s sake, Pottson, do hide that wretched gown.”

After one final look in the mirror to ensure that the blue coat and the fawn breeches didn’t show off his hips more than necessary, Lord Harry gave Pottson a mock bow. “Do stop fussing so. It will be all right, you’ll see. I’ll try not to be too late tonight.” After a brief pause, Lord Harry added, “Lord Oberlon is returned just recently to London.” His voice grew chill and distant. “It’s been eight months that he was away, Pottson. Undoubtedly, the marquess was loath to leave Italy and the plump arms of willing Italian ladies who assisted him to assuage his grief for his dead wife. Certainly since his return to London, he has wasted no time. I, myself, have seen him in the company of a beautiful new mistress. It’s even possible that he and his lovely new ladybird will be at Drury Lane tonight. God, I hope so. I want to see him, look him straight in the face.”

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Categories: Catherine Coulter