Regency Buck

by Georgette Heyer

Cover Picture The curricle drew alongside, and checked. Miss Taverner cast a fleeting glance upwards at it, and stiffened. The curricle stopped. "Beauty in distress again?" inquired a familiar voice.

Miss Taverner would have given all she possessed in the world to have been able to rise up and walk away in the opposite direction. It was not in her power, however. She could only tuck her foot out of sight and affect to be quite deaf.

The curricle drew right in to the side of the road, and at a sign from its driver the tiger perched up behind jumped down and ran to the wheel-horses' heads. Miss Taverner raged inwardly, and turned her head away.

The curricle's owner descended in a leisurely fashion, and came up to her. "Why so diffident?" he asked. "You had plenty to say when I met you yesterday."

Miss Taverner turned to look at him. Her cheeks had reddened, but she replied without the least sign of shyness: "Be pleased to drive on, sir. I have nothing to say to you, and my affairs are not your concern."

"That - or something very like it - is what you said to me before," he remarked. "Tell me, are you even prettier when you smile? I've no complaint to make, none at all: the whole effect is charming - and found at Grantham too, of all unlikely places! - but I should like to see you without the scowl."

Miss Taverner's eyes flashed.

"Magnificent!" said the gentleman. "Of course, blondes are not precisely the fashion, but you are something quite out of the way, you know."

"You are insolent, sir!" said Miss Taverner.

He laughed. "On the contrary, I am being excessively polite."

She looked him full in the eyes. "If my brother had been with me you would not have accosted me in this fashion," she said.

"Certainly not," he agreed, quite imperturbably. "He would have been very much in the way. What is your name?"

"Again, sir, that is no concern of yours."

"A mystery," he said. "I shall have to call you Clorinda. May I put your shoe on for you?"

She gave a start; her cheeks flamed. "No!" she said chokingly. "You may do nothing for me except drive on!"

"Why, that is easily done!" he replied, and bent, and before she had time to realize his purpose, lifted her up in his arms, and walked off with her to his curricle.

Miss Taverner ought to have screamed, or fainted. She was too much surprised to do either, but as soon as she had recovered from her astonishment at being picked up in that easy way (as though she had been a featherweight, which she knew she was not) she dealt her captor one resounding slap, with the full force of her arm behind it.

He winced a little, but his arms did not slacken their hold; rather they tightened slightly. "Never hit with an open palm, Clorinda," he told her. "I will show you how in a minute. Up with you!"

Miss Taverner was tossed up into the curricle, and collapsed onto the seat in some disorder. The gentleman in the caped greatcoat picked up her parasol and gave it to her, took the sandal from her resistless grasp, and calmly held it ready to fit to her foot.

Family Tree by Warren Mendes

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