“Thank you,” Anne said, not quite comfortable with such effusiveness on the part of her employer. Lady Pleinsworth had always been kind, but she had never attempted to make Anne feel like a member of the family. Nor had Anne expected her to. It was the odd lot of the governess—not quite a servant but most definitely not of the family. Her first employer—the old woman on the Isle of Man—had warned her about it. Forever stuck between upstairs and down, a governess was, and she’d best get used to it quickly.
“You should have seen yourself when his lordship brought you in,” Lady Pleinsworth said as she settled into a chair by the bed. “Poor Frances thought you were dead.”
“Oh, no, is she still upset? Has someone—”
“She’s fine,” Lady Pleinsworth said with a brisk wave of her hand. “She insists, however, upon seeing you for herself.”
“That would be most agreeable,” Anne said, trying to stifle a yawn. “I would enjoy her company.”
“You’ll need to rest first,” Lady Pleinsworth said firmly.
Anne nodded, sinking a little further into her pilows.
“I’m sure you’ll want to know how Lord Winstead is,” Lady Pleinsworth continued.
Anne nodded again. She did want to know, desperately, but she’d been forcing herself not to ask.
Lady Pleinsworth leaned forward, and there was something in her expression Anne could not quite read. “You should know that he very nearly colapsed after carrying you home.”
“I’m sorry,” Anne whispered.
But if Lady Pleinsworth heard her, she gave no indication. “Actualy, I suppose one would have to say he did colapse. Two footmen had to help him up and practicaly carry him to his room. I vow I have never seen the like.”
Anne felt tears stinging her eyes. “Oh, I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.”
Lady Pleinsworth looked at her with a queer expression, almost as if she’d forgotten who she’d been talking to. “There’s no need for that. It’s not your fault.”
“I know, but . . .” Anne shook her head. She didn’t know what she knew. She didn’t know anything any longer.
“still,” Lady Pleinsworth said with a wave of her hand, “you should be grateful. He carried you for over half a mile, you know. And he was injured himself.”
“I am grateful,” Anne said quietly. “Very much so.”
“The reins snapped,” Lady Pleinsworth told her. “I must say I am appaled. It is unconscionable that equipage in such poor repair would be alowed out of the stables. Someone will lose their position over this, I am sure.”
The reins, Anne thought. That made sense. It had all happened so suddenly.
“At any rate, given the severity of the accident, we must be thankful that neither of you was more seriously injured,” Lady Pleinsworth continued. “Although I’m told that we do want to watch you closely with that lump on your head.”
Anne touched it again, wincing.
“Does it hurt?”
“A bit,” Anne admitted.
Lady Pleinsworth seemed not to know what to do with that information. She shifted slightly in her seat, then squared her shoulders, then finaly said, “Wel.” Anne tried to smile. It was ridiculous, but she almost felt as if she was supposed to try to make Lady Pleinsworth feel better. It was probably from all those years in service, always wanting to please her employers.
“The doctor will be here soon,” Lady Pleinsworth finaly continued, “but in the meantime, I will make sure that someone tels Lord Winstead that you have awakened. He was most worried about you.”
“Thank—” Anne started to say, but apparently Lady Pleinsworth was not done.
“It is curious, though,” she said, pressing her lips together. “How did you come to be in his carriage in the first place? The last I saw him, he was here at Whipple Hil.”
Anne swalowed. This was not the sort of conversation that one wanted to treat with anything but the utmost of care. “I saw him in the vilage,” she said. “It started Anne swalowed. This was not the sort of conversation that one wanted to treat with anything but the utmost of care. “I saw him in the vilage,” she said. “It started to rain, and he offered to drive me back to Whipple Hil.” She waited for a moment, but Lady Pleinsworth did not speak, so she added, “I was most appreciative.” Lady Pleinsworth took a moment to consider her answer, then said, “Yes, wel, he is very generous that way. Although as it turns out, you’d have done better to walk.” She stood briskly and patted the bed. “You must rest now. But do not sleep. I’ve been told you’re not to sleep until the doctor arrives to examine you.” She frowned. “I believe I will send Frances in. At the very least, she’ll keep you awake.” Anne smiled. “Perhaps she might read to me. She hasn’t practiced reading aloud in quite some time, and I should like to see her work on her diction.”
“Ever the teacher, I see,” Lady Pleinsworth said. “But that’s what we want in a governess, isn’t it?” Anne nodded, not quite certain if she had been complimented or told to remember her place.
Lady Pleinsworth walked to the door, then turned. “Oh, and as to that, don’t worry about the girls. Lady Sarah and Lady Honoria will be sharing your duties while you are recuperating. I’m sure between the two of them they can work out a lesson plan.”
“Maths,” Anne said with a yawn. “They need to do maths.”