by Georgette Heyer
"May I give you wine, señora?"
So rapt in conversation with Dangerfield was the lady that it seemed she did not hear. Beauvallet watched her a moment in some amusement then turned to Don Manuel. "Do you suppose, señor that your daughter will take wine from my hands?"
"Dominica, you are addressed!" Don Manuel said sharply.
She gave an admirable start, and turned. "Señor?" She encountered Beauvallet's eyes, brimful with laughter. "Your pardon, señor?". He held out a cup in his long fingers. She took it from him, and turned it in her hand. "Ah, did this come from the Santa Maria?" she asked, mighty innocent.
Don Manuel blushed for his daughter's manners, and made a deprecatory sound. But Beauvallet's shoulders shook. "I had these quite honestly, señora."
Dominica appeared surprised.
Supper wore on its way. Don Manuel, shocked at the perversity of his daughter in bestowing all her attention on Dangerfield, began to talk to the young man himself, and successfully ousted Dominica from the conversation. She bit her lip with vexation and became absorbed in the contemplation of a dish of marchpane. At her left hand Beauvallet lay back in his chair, and played idly with his pomander. Dominica stole a sidelong glance at him, found his eyes upon her, wickedly teasing under the down-dropped lids, and flushed hotly. She began to nibble at a piece of marchpane.
Sir Nicholas let fall his pomander, and sat straight in his chair. His hand went to his belt; he drew his dagger from its sheath. It was a rich piece, with a hilt of wrought gold and a thin, flashing blade. He leaned forward and presented the hilt to the lady. "I make you a present of it, señora," he said in a humble voice.
Dominica flung up her head at that, and tried to push the dagger away. "I do not want it."
"Oh, but surely!"
"You are pleased to mock me, señor. I have no need of your dagger."
"But you would like so much to kill me," sir Nicholas said softly.
Dominica looked at him indignantly. He was abominable, and to make matters the more insupportable he had a smile that set a poor maid's heart in a flutter. "You laugh at me. Take your fill of it, señor: I shall not heed your sneers," she said.
"I?" Beauvallet said and shot out a hand to grasp her wrist. "Now look me boldly in the face and tell me if I sneer at you!"
Dominica looked instead towards her father, but he had turned his shoulder and was descanting to Master Dangerfield upon the works of Livy.
"Come!" insisted the tormentor. "What, afraid?"
Stung, she looked up. Defiance gleamed in her eyes. Sir Nicholas kept his steadily upon her, raised her hand to his lips, kissed it fleetingly, and held it still. "You will know me better some day," he said.
"I've no ambition for it," Dominica answered, but without truth.
"Have you not? Have you not indeed?"
Pedigree of the House of Beauvallet by Warren Mendes
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