Squire Broughton Tells Of His Conversation with Major Harry Chandler
Last evening, at the Duke of Lear’s ball, I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Major Harry Chandler, the duke’s charming new brother-in-law. He was an engaging young man who, despite still suffering from his wounds and only recently being returned from Portugal, appeared to be enjoying the evening.
A large, comfortable chair had been placed at the edge of the ballroom for his use and here he sat in regal splendor enjoying the music and the attentions he received from those eager to make his acquaintance.
At the supper interval, when all those inclined retired to partake of the excellent collation provided, he declined the suggestion that he be aided into the supper room and instead ordered his man to bring him a tray with a light repast and to place it on the small table at his side. Disinclined to join my fellow guests in the supper room, as I had already partaken of the side buffet earlier, I introduced myself and drew a chair to sit at his side.
He offered me wine from the decanter placed at his elbow. “A very good evening, is it not?” I said, accepting the glass he proffered.
“Indeed it is,” he replied, grinning broadly. “Robert certainly knows how to entertain and stints on nothing. My only wish is that I could join the dancing but my recovery does not yet extend to that.”
“From what I hear of your injuries, you have done well to come thus far,” I said, for I had heard how long he had lain abed in Elvas before being able to attempt the rigorous journey home.
“My health improves daily,” he said, “though I know I will always have my limitations. I must be honest and tell you that it irks me beyond belief to be so confined, but even now I am able to do more than I had envisioned when I first received my wounds. I can now almost walk to the summer house Robert has had erected for my use and I have spent many a pleasant hour there. My man, Eaves, is a God send and never seems to tire in my service. He was my batman when I served in Kinkade’s brigade and has remained with me.”
“You served with Kinkade?” I asked. “Then you must have known Stefan?”
Harry’s mien sobered. “Indeed I did. We were fellow officers and friends. Robert lost a most beloved brother and grieves still, as do I.”
“I can well understand his grief,” I said. “It was rumored they were as close as two brothers could be. However, it is hoped his recent marriage to your sister brings him joy.”
“And so it does, so it does,” said Harry, visibly brightening. They are as happy as a couple can be. He fair dotes on Jane. And the babe too. You have heard of Stefan’s daughter have you not?”
I could not help but smile. “I believe she is a delightful child and has inherited her father’s charming disposition.”
“Indeed she has and charms all who come into contact with her.”
As we sat partaking of our wine, the orchestra took up their instruments, heralding the end of the supper interval and it was seen that the duke and duchess joined the other couples in the movement of the waltz. We watched their progress as they circled the floor and soon it became obvious that we were not their only audience. A tall, blond Adonis also viewed their progress with interest before turning away as if he had received a rebuff. Seeing the major, he gave a brief bow before disappearing in the direction of the card room.
“That is Edmund Darrows the new occupant of Grebe Manor,” informed Harry. “I had no desire to return to our former home and thought it best to take a tenant. He seems a decent enough chap. He has requested that I inform him of the sport available in the area and is coming to dine with me on the morrow. It’s an age since I have had company and am quite looking forward to his coming.”
We sat thus, engaged in idle conversation of local sport until with a polite cough, the major’s batman made his presence known and politely suggested it was time for the major to retire as the evening was far advanced. However, my companion brushed away his man’s concerns and instead smiled invitingly at a matron and her daughter who seemed determined to make his acquaintance. Deeming it prudent to make my departure, I bid the young man good evening and I too made my way to the card room.