“Maths it is, then.” Lady Pleinsworth opened the door and stepped into the halway. “Do try to get some rest. But don’t sleep.” Anne nodded and closed her eyes, even though she knew she shouldn’t. She did not think she would sleep, though. Her body was exhausted, but her mind was racing. Everyone told her that Daniel was all right, but she was still worried, and she would be until she saw him for herself. There was nothing she could do about it now, though, not when she could barely walk.
And then Frances bounded in, hopped onto the bed beside Anne, and proceeded to chatter her ear off. It was, Anne realized later, exactly what she needed.
The rest of the day passed peacefuly enough. Frances stayed until the doctor arrived, who said that he wanted Anne to keep awake until nightfal. Then Elizabeth came, bearing a tray of cakes and sweets, and finaly Harriet, who carried with her a small sheaf of paper—her current opus, Henry VIII and the Unicorn of Doom.
“I’m not certain Frances is going to be appeased by an evil unicorn,” Anne told her.
Harriet looked up with one arched brow. “She did not specify that it must be a good unicorn.” Anne grimaced. “You’re going to have a battle on your hands, that’s all I’m going to say on the matter.” Harriet shrugged, then said, “I’m going to begin in act two. Act one is a complete disaster. I’ve had to rip it completely apart.”
“Because of the unicorn?”
“No,” Harriet said with a grimace. “I got the order of the wives wrong. It’s divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, widowed.”
Harriet gave her a bit of a look, then said, “I switched one of the divorces with a beheading.”
“May I give you a bit of advice?” Anne asked.
Harriet looked up.
“Don’t ever let anyone hear you say that out of context.”
Harriet laughed aloud at that, then gave her papers a little shake to indicate that she was ready to begin. “Act two,” she read with a flourish. “And don’t worry, you shouldn’t be too confused, especialy now that we’ve reviewed all the wifely demises.” But before Harriet reached act three, Lady Pleinsworth entered the room, her expression urgent and grave. “I must speak with Miss Wynter,” she said to Harriet.
“Please leave us.”
“But we haven’t even—”
Harriet gave Anne a what-can-this-be look, which Anne did not acknowledge, not with Lady Pleinsworth standing over her, looking like a thundercloud.
Harriet gathered her papers and left. Lady Pleinsworth walked to the door, listened to make sure that Harriet had not lingered to eavesdrop, then turned to Anne and said, “The reins were cut.”
Anne gasped. “What?”
“The reins. On Lord Winstead’s curricle. They had been cut.”
“No. That’s impossible. Why would—” But she knew why. And she knew who.
Anne felt herself blanch. How had he found her here? And how could he have known—
The posting inn. She and Lord Winstead had been inside at least half an hour. Anyone who had been watching her would have realized that she would be riding home in his curricle.
Anne had long since accepted that time would not dampen George Chervil’s fire for revenge, but she’d never thought he would be so reckless as to threaten the life of another person, especialy someone of Daniel’s position. He was the Earl of Winstead, for heaven’s sake. The death of a governess would most likely go uninvestigated, but an earl?
George was insane. Or at least more so than he’d been before. There could be no other explanation.
“The horses came back several hours ago,” Lady Pleinsworth continued. “The grooms were sent out to retrieve the curricle, and that’s when they saw it. It was a clear act of sabotage. Worn leather does not snap in an even, straight line.”
“No,” Anne said, trying to take it all in.
“I don’t suppose you have some nefarious enemy in your past you’ve neglected to tell us about,” Lady Pleinsworth said.
Anne’s throat went dry. She was going to have to lie. There was no other—
But Lady Pleinsworth must have been engaging in a bit of galows humor, because she did not wait for a reply. “It’s Ramsgate,” she said. “God damn it, the man has lost all reason.”
Anne could only stare, not sure if she was relieved that she’d been spared the sin of lying or shocked that Lady Pleinsworth had so furiously taken the Lord’s name in vain.
And maybe Lady Pleinsworth was right. Maybe this had nothing to do with Anne, and the vilain was indeed the Marquess of Ramsgate. He’d chased Daniel out of the country three years earlier; surely it was within his character to try to have him murdered now. And he certainly would not care if he took the life of a governess in the process.
“He promised Daniel he would leave him alone,” Lady Pleinsworth raged, pacing the room. “That’s the only reason he came back, you know. He thought he would be safe. Lord Hugh went all the way to Italy to tell him that his father had promised to put an end to all this nonsense.” She let out a frustrated noise, her hands fisted tightly at her sides. “It has been three years. Three years he was in exile. Isn’t that enough? Daniel didn’t even kill his son. It was just a wound.” fisted tightly at her sides. “It has been three years. Three years he was in exile. Isn’t that enough? Daniel didn’t even kill his son. It was just a wound.” Anne kept quiet, not sure that she was supposed to be taking part in this conversation.