“By all means, you should do so.”

Sarah dipped her hands in the basin, but before she could do anything with the water, Harriet poked her own face even closer, scooting right between Sarah’s hands and nose.

“Harriet, what is wrong with you?”

“What is wrong with you?” Harriet countered.

Sarah let the water drain through her fingers. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“You’re smiling,” Harriet accused.

“What sort of person do you think I am that I’m not allowed to wake up in a pleasant mood?”

“Oh, you’re allowed to. I just don’t believe that you’re constitutionally able.”

It was true that Sarah was not known to be a morning person.

“And you’re flushed,” Harriet added.

Sarah resisted the urge to flick water on her sister’s face and instead splashed some on her own. She dried herself off with a small white towel, then said, “Perhaps it is because I have been forced to exert myself arguing with you.”

“No, I don’t think that’s it,” Harriet said, ignoring her sarcasm completely.

Sarah brushed past her. If her face hadn’t been flushed before, it certainly was now.

“Something is wrong with you,” Harriet called, hurrying after her.

Sarah paused but did not turn around. “Are you following me to the chamber pot?”

There was a very satisfying beat of silence. Followed by: “Er, no.”

Shoulders high, Sarah marched into the small bathing room and shut the door.

And locked it. Really, she wouldn’t put it past Harriet to count to ten, decide that Sarah had had more than enough time to complete her business, and barge right in.

The moment the door was safely barred from invasion, Sarah turned, leaned back against it, and let out a long sigh.

Oh dear heavens.

Oh dear heavens.

Was she really so fundamentally different after last night that her younger sister could see it on her face?

And if she looked that different after a night of stolen kisses, what would happen when . . .

Well, she supposed technically it was “if.”

But her heart told her it would be “when.” She was going to spend the rest of her life with Lord Hugh Prentice. There was simply no way she would allow anything else to come to pass.

By the time Sarah made it down to breakfast (Harriet hot on her heels and questioning every smile), it was clear that the weather had turned. The sun, which had spent the last week resting amiably in the sky, had retreated behind ominous pewter clouds, and the wind whistled with the threat of an oncoming storm.

The gentlemen’s excursion (a horseback journey south to the River Kennet) was canceled, and Whipple Hill buzzed with the unspent energy of bored aristocrats. Sarah had become used to having much of the house to herself during the day, and to her surprise, she found herself resentful of what felt like an intrusion.

To complicate matters, Harriet had apparently decided that her mission for the day was to shadow—and question—Sarah’s every move. Whipple Hill was large, but not large enough when one’s younger sister was curious, determined, and, perhaps most importantly, aware of every nook and cranny in the house.

Hugh had been at breakfast, like always, but it had been impossible for Sarah to speak with him without Harriet inserting herself in the conversation. When Sarah went to the little drawing room to read her novel (as she had casually mentioned she planned to do at breakfast), there was Harriet at the writing desk, the pages of her current work-in-progress spread before her.

“Sarah,” Harriet said brightly, “fancy meeting you here.”

“Fancy that,” Sarah said, with no inflection whatsoever. Her sister had never been skilled in the art of subterfuge.

“Are you going to read?” Harriet inquired.

Sarah glanced down at the novel in her hand.

“You said you were going to read,” Harriet reminded her. “At breakfast.”

Sarah looked back toward the door, considering what her other options for the morning might be.

“Frances is looking for someone with whom to play Oranges and Unicorns,” Harriet said.

That clinched it. Sarah sat right down on the sofa and opened Miss Butterworth. She flipped a few pages, looking for where she’d left off, then frowned. “Is that even a game?” she asked. “Oranges and Unicorns?”

“She says it’s a version of Oranges and Lemons,” Harriet told her.

“How does one substitute unicorns for lemons?”

Harriet shrugged. “It’s not as if one needs actual lemons to play.”

“Still, it does ruin the rhyme.” Sarah shook her head, summoning the childhood poem from her memory. “Oranges and unicorns say the bells of St. . . .” She looked to Harriet for inspiration.


“Somehow I don’t think so.”


Sarah cocked her head to the side. “Better,” she judged.

“Spoonicorns? Zoomicorns.”

And . . . that was enough. Sarah turned back to her book. “We’re done now, Harriet.”


Sarah couldn’t even imagine where that one had come from. But still, she found herself humming as she read.

Oranges and lemons say the bells of St. Clements.

Meanwhile, Harriet was muttering to herself at the desk. “Pontoonicorns xyloonicorns . . .”

You owe me five farthings say the bells of St. Martins.

“Oh, oh, oh, I have it! Hughnicorns!”