She didn’t move her head, but her eyes turned one way, and then the other, and he couldn’t quite tell if she was trying to act sneaky. Then she stood, brushing her hands against the pale green fabric of her skirts. “I will be back,” she said.

“I cannot wait.”

She marched to the door and turned around. “With tart.”

“You are my savior.”

Her eyes narrowed. “You owe me.”

“I owe you for a great deal more than treacle tart,” he told her quite seriously.

She exited the room without another word, leaving Marcus with his empty tureen and bread crusts. And books. He looked over at the table, where she’d left the books for him. Carefully, so as not to upset the glass of lukewarm lemon water Mrs. Wetherby had prepared for him, he moved the tray to the other side of the bed. Leaning over, he grabbed the first book and took a look. Striking and Picturesque Delineations of the Grand, Beautiful, Wonderful, and Interesting Scenery Around Loch-Earn.

Good Lord, she’d found that in his library?

He looked at the next. Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron. It wasn’t something he would normally choose, but compared to the Striking and Picturesque Delineations of the Grand, Beautiful Et Cetera, Et Cetera Somewhere in the Wilds of Scotland I Shall Bore You to Death, it looked positively pithy.

He settled in against his pillows, flipped the pages until he was at the opening chapter, and sat down to read.

It was a dark and windy night –

Hadn’t he heard that before?

- and Miss Priscilla Butterworth was certain that at any moment the rain would begin, pouring down from the heavens in sheets and streams . . .

By the time Honoria returned, Miss Butterworth had been abandoned on a doorstep, survived the plague, and been chased by a wild boar.

She was quite fleet of foot, Miss Butterworth.

Marcus turned eagerly to Chapter Three, where he anticipated Miss Butterworth stumbling upon a plague of locusts, and was quite engrossed when Honoria appeared in the doorway, out of breath and clutching a tea towel in her hands.

“You didn’t get it, then?” he asked, looking at her over the edge of Miss Butterworth.

“Of course I got it,” she replied with disdain. She set the tea towel down and unfolded it to reveal a somewhat crumbly, but nonetheless recognizable, treacle tart. “I brought an entire pie.”

Marcus felt his eyes go wide. He was tingling. Honestly. Tingling with anticipation. Miss Butterworth and her locusts were nothing compared to this. “You are my hero.”

“To say nothing of having saved your life,” she quipped.

“Well, that, too,” he demurred.

“One of the footmen gave chase.” She looked over her shoulder toward the open door. “I think he might have thought I was a thief, although really, if I were coming to burgle Fensmore, I’d hardly start with treacle tart.”

“Really?” he asked, his mouth full of heaven. “It’s exactly where I’d start.”

She broke off a piece and popped it in her mouth. “Oh, it is good,” she sighed. “Even without the strawberries and cream.”

“I can think of nothing better,” he said with a happy sigh. “Except, perhaps, chocolate cake.”

She perched on the side of the bed and took another small piece. “Sorry,” she said, swallowing before she continued, “I didn’t know where to get forks.”

“I don’t care,” he said. He didn’t. He was just so damned happy to be eating real food, with real flavor. That required real chewing. Why people thought that clear liquids were the key to recovering from a fever he would never know.

He began to fantasize about cottage pie. Dessert was marvelous, but he was going to need some real sustenance. Beef mince. Sliced potatoes, lightly crisped from the oven. He could almost taste it.

He looked over at Honoria. Somehow he did not think she was going to be able to sneak that out of the kitchen in a tea towel.

Honoria reached for another piece of the tart. “What are you reading?” she asked.

“Miss Butterworth and the, er . . .” He looked down at the book, which lay pages down and open on his bed. “Mad Baron, apparently.”

“Really?” She looked stunned.

“I couldn’t bring myself to crack open Reflections and Illuminations of a Small Unpopulated Area of Scotland.”


“This one,” he said, handing her the book.

She looked down and he noticed that her eyes had to move quite a distance to take in the entirety of the title. “It looked quite descriptive,” she said with a little shrug. “I thought you would enjoy it.”

“Only if I was worried that the fever hadn’t done me in,” he said with a snort.

“I think it sounds interesting.”

“You should read it, then,” he said with a gracious wave. “I shan’t miss it.”

Her lips pressed together peevishly. “Did you look at anything else I brought you?”

“Actually, no.” He held up Miss Butterworth. “This was really quite intriguing.”

“I can’t believe you’re enjoying it.”

“You’ve read it, then?”

“Yes, but – ”

“Did you finish it?”

“Yes, but – ”

“Did you enjoy it?”

She did not seem to have a ready reply, so he took advantage of her distraction and pulled the tea towel closer. Another few inches and the treacle tart would be entirely out of her reach.

“I did enjoy it,” she finally said, “although I found some parts to be implausible.”