“That’s certainly not true.” He tried to gauge how affronted he ought to appear at such a comment. “They are my cousins.”
“You have an abundance of cousins.”
“All of whom I missed while abroad. Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder.”
“Oh, stop,” Sarah finaly said, looking as if she’d like to throw up her hands in disgust. “You are fooling no one.”
“I beg your pardon?” Daniel murmured, even though he had a feeling his goose was cooked.
Sarah roled her eyes. “Do you think you are the first person to notice that our governess is absurdly gorgeous?” He was about to think up some dry rejoinder, but he could see that Sarah was about to say, And don’t say you haven’t noticed . . . , so instead he said, quite plainly, “No.”
Because realy, there was no point in saying otherwise. Miss Wynter had the kind of beauty that stopped men in their tracks. It was not a quiet sort of thing, like his sister, or Sarah, for that matter. They were both perfectly lovely, but one didn’t realy notice just how much until one got to know them. Miss Wynter, on the other hand . . .
A man would have to be dead not to notice her. More than dead, if such a thing were possible.
Sarah sighed, with equal parts exasperation and resignation. “It would be most tiresome if she weren’t so very nice.”
“Beauty does not have to be accompanied by a bad character.”
She snorted. “Someone has grown quite philosophical while on the Continent.”
“Wel, you know, those Greeks and Romans. They do rub off on you.”
Sarah laughed. “Oh, Daniel, do you want to ask me about Miss Wynter? Because if you do, just say so.” He leaned forward. “Tell me about Miss Wynter.”
“Wel.” Sarah leaned forward. “There’s not much to tel.”
“I may throttle you,” he said mildly.
“No, it’s true. I know very little about her. She’s not my governess, after al. I think she might be from somewhere in the north. She came with a reference from a family in Shropshire. And another from the Isle of Man.”
“The Isle of Man?” he asked in disbelief. He didn’t think he knew anyone who’d even seen the Isle of Man. It was a fiendishly remote spot, hard to get to and with very bad weather. Or so he’d been told.
“I asked her about it once,” Sarah said with a shrug. “She told me it was quite bleak.”
“I would imagine.”
“She does not talk about her family, although I think I heard her mention a sister once.”
“Does she receive correspondence?”
Sarah shook her head. “Not that I’m aware of. And if she posts any, she does not do it from here.” Sarah shook her head. “Not that I’m aware of. And if she posts any, she does not do it from here.” He looked at her with a bit of surprise.
“Wel, I would have noticed at some point,” she said defensively. “At any rate, I shal not permit you to bother Miss Wynter.”
“I’m not going to bother her.”
“Oh, you are. I see it in your eyes.”
He leaned forward. “You’re quite dramatic for someone who avoids the stage.”
Her eyes narrowed with suspicion. “What do you mean by that?”
“Merely that you are the picture of health.”
She let out a ladylike snort. “Do you think to blackmail me? I wish you luck with that. No one believes I was il, anyway.”
“Even your mother?”
Sarah drew back.
“What do you want?” she asked.
Daniel paused, the better to draw this out. Sarah’s teeth were clenched just splendidly, and he rather thought that if he waited long enough, steam might emerge from her ears.
“Daniell. . .” she ground out.
He tilted his head as if pondering the point. “Aunt Charlotte would be so disappointed to think that her daughter was shirking her musical duties.”
“I already asked you, what do you— Oh, never mind.” She roled her eyes, shaking her head as if about to pacify a three-year-old. “I might have overheard Miss Wynter this morning, planning to take Harriet, Elizabeth, and Frances for a constitutional walk in Hyde Park.” He smiled. “Have I told you recently that you are one of my very favorite cousins?”
“We are even now,” she warned him. “If you say a word to my mother . . .”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
“She’s already threatened to take me to the country for a week. For rest and recuperation.” He swalowed a chuckle. “She’s concerned about you.”
“I suppose it could be worse,” Sarah said with a sigh. “I actualy prefer the country, but she says we must go all the way to Dorset. I’ll spend the entire time in the carriage, and then I realy will be il.”
Sarah did not travel wel. She never had.
“What is Miss Wynter’s Christian name?” Daniel asked. It seemed remarkable that he didn’t know it.
“You can discover that for yourself,” Sarah retorted.
He decided to alow her the point, but before he could say anything, Sarah turned her head sharply toward the door. “Ah, perfect timing,” she said, cutting through his words. “I do believe I hear someone coming down the stairs. Who could it possibly be, I wonder.” Daniel stood. “My dear young cousins, I’m sure.” He waited until he saw one of them galop past by the open doorway, then caled out, “Oh, Harriet! Elizabeth!