Correction, my lord. I was not seen with your first daughter in the garden behind the East Wing of your country house. It was your second daughter. The one who reported my actions, the gossipy housekeeper – and, forgive my aside, my lord, but it is not wise to keep gossiping dependents, for they are a hazard that should not be risked – well, in any case, and not to put too fine a point on it, she lied as to the actions she witnessed.

I see you wish to speak. Let me stop you before you begin, my lord, and forgive my impudence. It is not my intention to create any more bad blood between us than there already is. I shall be quick. Your daughter, sir… She is a beauty, there is no doubt. And she is nobility and charm itself. Do not fret – she shall find a husband yet, whether or not she is chaste.

Ah, my lord, don’t shout so. I prithee, calm yourself, man, or you will suffer a fit. I was not implying that your daughter is not as pure as the freshly fallen snow. She is angelic. I simply meant that whatever your housekeeper saw or did not see might spread to others.

Do not worry, I am leaving momentarily. I will simply say this. My lord, I respect your daughter, probably more than her. When I was conversing with her in the garden, I was simply asking her advice. She gave me advice. I am indebted to her. Not to you, my lord, but to you.


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