His mother had no notion of his highway-man-adventures, though at times he had wondered whether she might have known, as the result of subtle suggestions of not being as innocent of his escapades as he might have believed her to be.
Interrupting his thoughts, Doyle came in and suggested that his Grace might dress now, as Master Ricky was well seen to and as dinner was a good twenty minutes away, would he care for his boots to be polished?
The answer being affirmative, the Duke went up to his bedroom and dressed, with the assistance of Doyle. He arrived at the dinner-table exactly on time, neat as a pin, and elegantly clad in white satin and mulberry. His boots were polished to perfection, and after having Doyle’s careful eye scrutinize them for the last time before placing them on the Duke, his Grace’s ever-attentive valet was satisfied.
Lord Richard made his grand appearance, several minutes late, and sat himself on the left side of Anthony. He was attired in a more conservative manner, though still stubbornly pursuing his outrageous waistcoat which was a shocking combination of rose satin, trimmed—in some very striking areas—with Coquelicot silk.
“Tell me old thing, when is this party of yours?” Ricky questioned Tony while he motioned for the manservant to fill his glass with the very fine San de Chanc.
“Saturday. We are to have something and two hundred guests I believe. The country is full to brimming with a London-weary Ton!”
Ricky surveyed his first course with some enjoyment before expressing his wisdom upon Tony’s statement,
“I do believe they follow you about Tony; you in Town, they will be in Town; you in Country, they will be in the Country. Quite the popular type eh?”
The Duke looked up at this last piece of Ricky’s acknowledgement with a look of slight surprise in his usually serious face.
Where had he heard that very same dictum? His memory served him well; the young girl with whom he had a most entertaining acquaintance with had told him so about his own pistol. It was quite the popular type.
He laughed inside himself—she had been a ridiculous child, but an amusing one.
Ricky interrupted Tony’s thoughts, as he often did, and recommended him to try the San de Chanc, for it was the very thing, and, yes indeed, he thought, perhaps even better than Mr. Brummell's own!
Tony accepted this with good grace and spent the rest of the evening as he had begun it: with Lord Richard Hawkes by his side, making himself more at home than was positively good for him.
“What a beautiful stepper!” Lady Miriam exclaimed on the following morning to her cousin Charles as they were riding across his lands. Charles laughed in response,
“If any other young lady had said that very statement just now, Miriam, I should of thought that she knew not what she was talking of. But you, I believe you do know what a beautiful stepper is!”
She laughed back fascinatingly, but waited until they had reached and stopped at the top of the rise they were riding up before answering,
“Yes, I am afraid that I am a shame to the ton, you know Charles. I always manage to say what I oughtn’t to say.” She drifted off wistfully, but as her eyes found Charles again, she smiled prettily, “I do believe I enjoy being here more than any other place! Here I can truly be myself and not be concerned with propriety!”Feigning an expression of mock fear, Charles prompted his fine chestnut stepper into pace and replied,
“My Lady, you strike fear into my very being! I shall wish you elsewhere with such talk! Be gone evil, unproprietous spirit, you have stolen my sweet cousin!”
So they rode, and laughed of past times, visiting places they frequented as young children and reminiscing over charming old memories.