This post was written by Dara.
Hullingden, 1806: Sally arrives, amidst much gossip from the ton, at Lucien’s ancestral seat with Lady Florence Oblong, Mrs. Gwen and a trunk of billiard balls (well, as well as one can expect Mrs. Gwen and her billiard balls to be in tow) and is met by Lucien and his less than welcoming aunt. After a tour of the grounds (in which we learn more about Lucien’s past) and dinner with his relatives (at which Mrs. Gwen decamps to her room for writing and Sally engages in a sporting round of Irritate Aunt Winfred), Sally convinces Lucien he really must make things right with his sister now that he is back in England to stay. It does not go well.
While getting ready for bed in her Haunted Chamber (what castle is complete without one?), Sally hears footsteps in the wall. Since ghosts do not have boots with which to stomp, nor do they tend to call her name, she heads off down the secret passageway (again, what self-respecting castle would be without?) to investigate and finds herself in the middle of none other than Lucien’s bedchambers.
After a rather too long to be proper tête-à-tête, the two resume the search together and find a drunken Cousin Hal, who puts two and two together and comes to the conclusion of five, confesses that he was Fanny the actress’s protector and promptly passes out.
The two manage to haul Cousin Hal to Lucien’s room, share a steamy goodnight kiss, after which each assumes the other must be only playing their act of betrothal, Lucien escorts Sally to bed, hands her a pistol and returns to his room, leaving Sally to a bleak and sleepless night.
After a fruitless interview with Mrs. Gwen and an unsuccessful attempt to convince Lucien to contact the authorities about Hal the next morning, things do not appear rosier. Each hurting and spoiling for a fight, the two have it out over the breakfast table and agree to announce their refusal to wed each other at the betrothal ball the next night. Afterward, Lucien shares Hal’s confessions with his Uncle, who offers to smooth things over with Sir Matthew (who is intent of pinning the blame on Lucien) and tells Lucien to concentrate on his pretty fiancé.
These chapters are full of action, lovely witty dialogue and juicy bits. What have you noticed in this reread that you didn’t notice before? What is your favorite bit from this week’s reading? I think mine is Sally torturing Aunt Winifred at dinner.