She decided to proceed as if he’d said nothing. “Most importantly, you must watch for reddish streaks spreading from the wound. Those are the worst.”

He blinked, but if he was startled by the turn of the conversation, he did not show it. Instead he looked down at his hand with a curious eye and said, “How red?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“How red do the streaks have to be before I must worry?”

“How do you know so much about medicine?” Lady Danbury cut in.

“Do you know, I’m not sure how red,” Honoria told Mr. Bridgerton. “I would think anything stripey ought to be a cause for alarm.” Then she turned to Lady Danbury and said, “I helped someone recently who had a terribly infected wound.”

“Hand?” Lady Danbury barked.

Honoria could not begin to imagine what she was talking about.

“Was it her hand? Arm? Leg? It’s all in the details, gel.” She gave her cane a thump, narrowly missing Mr. Bridgerton’s foot. “Otherwise the story is dull.”

“Sorry, ehrm . . . Leg.” Honoria did not see any reason to mention that it had been a he, not a she.

Lady Danbury was silent for a moment, and then she positively cackled. Honoria had no idea why. Then she said something about needing to talk with the other violinist, and she wandered off, leaving Honoria alone – or as alone as two people could be in a crowded room – with Mr. Bridgerton.

Honoria couldn’t help but watch her make her way over to Daisy, and Mr. Bridgerton said, “Don’t worry, she’s mostly harmless.”

“My cousin Daisy?” she asked dubiously.

“No,” he replied, momentarily nonplussed. “Lady Danbury.”

Honoria looked past him to Daisy and Lady Danbury. “Is she deaf?”

“Your cousin Daisy?”

“No, Lady Danbury.”

“I don’t believe so.”

“Oh.” Honoria winced. “That’s too bad. She might be by the time Daisy is through with her.”

At that Mr. Bridgerton could not resist looking over his shoulder. He was rewarded with the sight – or, more correctly, the sound – of Daisy making all her sentences loud and slow for Lady Danbury. He winced, too.

“That’s not going to end well,” he murmured.

Honoria could do nothing but shake her head and murmur, “No.”

“Is your cousin fond of her toes?”

Honoria blinked in confusion. “I believe so, yes.”

“She’ll want to watch that cane, then.”

Honoria looked back just in time to see Daisy let out a small shriek as she tried to jump back. She was not successful with the latter; Lady Danbury’s cane had her pinned rather firmly.

They stood there for a moment, both trying not to smile, then Mr. Bridgerton said, “I understand you were in Cambridge last month.”

“I was,” Honoria replied. “I had the pleasure of dining with your brother.”

“Gregory? Really? You’d classify it as a pleasure?” But he was grinning as he said it, and Honoria could instantly picture what life must be like in the Bridgerton household: a great deal of teasing and a great deal of love.

“He was most gracious to me,” she said with a smile.

“Shall I tell you a secret?” Mr. Bridgerton murmured, and Honoria decided that in his case, it was right and proper to listen to gossip – he was an incredible flirt.

“Must I keep the secret?” she asked, leaning forward ever-so-slightly.

“Definitely not.”

She gave him a sunny smile. “Then yes, please.”

Mr. Bridgerton leaned in, just about as far as she had done. “He has been known to catapult peas across the supper table.”

Honoria gave him a very somber nod. “Has he done this recently?”

“Not too recently, no.”

She pressed her lips together, trying not to smile. It was lovely to witness this type of sibling teasing. There used to be so much of it in her home, although most of the time she’d been but a witness. She was so much younger than the rest of her siblings; in all honesty, most of the time they’d probably just forgotten to tease her.

“I have but one question, Mr. Bridgerton.”

He cocked his head.

“How was this catapult constructed?”

He grinned. “Simple spoon, Lady Honoria. But in Gregory’s devious hands, there was nothing simple about it.”

She laughed at that, and then quite suddenly felt a hand at her elbow.

It was Marcus, and he looked furious.

Chapter Twenty-one

Marcus could not remember the last time he had been moved to violence, but as he stood there, staring into Colin Bridgerton’s smirky face, he was sorely tempted.

“Lord Chatteris,” Bridgerton murmured, greeting him with a polite nod. A polite nod and a look. If Marcus had been in a better mood, he might have been able to articulate just what it was about that look that so irritated him, but Marcus wasn’t in a good mood. He had been in a good mood. He’d been in a very good mood, as a matter of fact, despite having just endured what was possibly the worst rendition of Mozart ever known to man.

It did not matter that some tragic portion of his ears had died tonight; the rest of him had been awash with happiness. He’d sat in his seat and watched Honoria. If she’d been a grim warrior during her final rehearsal, then she was a happy member of the corps for the concert. She’d smiled all the way through, and he’d known that she hadn’t been smiling for the audience, or even for the music. She’d been smiling for the people she loved. And he could, for however brief a moment, imagine that he was one of those people.