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 Show-off, Harry muttered.
George blew out a breath and turned on him.  Is that all you ve got to say after seeing your brother for
the first time in eighteen years?
He arched his eyebrows at her, silent.
She threw up her arms in disgust and stomped over to the stone wall, then stood dithering when she
couldn t find a toehold for her shoe. Strong hands grabbed her from behind, again just under her breasts.
This time she did shriek.
Harry lifted her up and held her against his chest.  He s not my brother, he growled in her ear, sending
all sorts of interesting thrills down her neck and elsewhere. Who knew the nerves in one s neck were
connected to
He set her rather firmly on the wall.
She scrambled over it and marched to the gig.  Then what is his
relationship to you?
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Instead of handing her into the carriage, Harry grasped her about the middle again. She might become
accustomed to this.
 He was a boyhood playmate, my lady. He placed her on the seat.
George mourned the loss of his hands.
 You played with Thomas and Bennet Granville when you were little? She craned her neck to follow
him as he circled the gig.
More drops of rain began to fall.
 Yes. He climbed in and took up the reins.  I grew up on the estate, remember. Thomas is about my
age and Bennet a few years younger. He guided the horse onto the lane and set him to a trot.
 Yet you had not seen them since you left the Granville estate?
 I was am the gamekeeper s son. A muscle bunched in his jaw.  There was no reason we should
see each other.
 Oh. She mulled over that.  Were you great friends? I mean, did you like Bennet and Thomas?
The rain increased. George hugged her cloak about her and hoped her frock wouldn t be ruined.
Harry looked at her as if she d asked something extremely silly.  We were boys growing up together. It
didn t much matter if we liked each other. He watched the horse for a bit, then said almost grudgingly,  I
daresay I got on better with Bennet even though Thomas was closer to my age. Thomas always seemed
such a milksop. He didn t like fishing or exploring or other things boys like to do for fear of getting his
clothes dirty.
 Is that why you don t trust Thomas now?
 Because he was a milksop when he was a boy? No, my lady. Give me more credit than that. He was
always trying to get his father s favor as a lad. I doubt he s changed much, just because he s a man now.
And since Granville hates me . . . He let his sentence trail away and shrugged.
His father s favor. A firstborn son usually had that without question. How strange that Thomas Granville
did not. But she was more curious about something else.  So you spent a lot of time in Bennet s
company when you two were boys?
Rain was dripping off the brim of Harry s tricorn.  We played and I sat in on his lessons if the tutor was
in a good mood that day and if Granville wasn t around.
She frowned.  If Lord Granville wasn t around?
He nodded grimly.  The man hated me, even then. Said I had too much pride for a gamekeeper s son.
But the tutor disliked his employer as well. I think he got some small revenge in teaching me.
 That s where you learned to read and write.
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Harry nodded.  Bennet was better at letters than I, even though he was younger, but I best him at
numbers. So, yes, I spent quite a bit of time with him.
 What happened?
He looked at her.  His father whipped my father when I was twelve and he ten.
George thought about what it would be like if she d lost someone close to her when she was twelve.
Someone she saw every day. Someone she fought and played with. Someone she took it for granted
would always be there. It would be like having a limb cut off.
How far would one go to correct such a wrong?
She shivered and looked up. They were at the river that divided the Granville land from her own. Harry
slowed the horse to a walk as it splashed into the ford. The rain was coming down hard now, making the
muddy water jump. George looked downstream where the water deepened and swirled in a whirlpool. A
shape floated there.
 Harry. She touched his arm and pointed.
He swore.
The horse waded from the stream, and he pulled the gig over, tying the reins off quickly. He helped her
down from the gig before walking to the bank ahead of her. George s shoes sank into the mud as she
followed. When she reached him, Harry was very still. Then she saw why. The body of a sheep twisted
slowly in the water; the rain pelting the fleece gave it a strange, lifelike movement.
She shuddered.  Why doesn t it float away?
 It s tethered. Harry nodded grimly to a branch hanging over the water.
She saw that a rope was tied around the branch and disappeared into the water. Presumably, the other
end attached to some part of the sheep.  But why would anyone do such a thing? She felt a frisson run
down her spine.  It s mad.
 Maybe to foul the stream. He sat and began to pull off his boots.
 What are you doing?
 I m going to cut it loose. He unbuttoned his coat.  It ll fetch up on a bank farther downstream and a
farmer will pull it out. At least it won t spoil the whole stream.
By now he was in shirtsleeves, soaked through by the rain. He pulled his knife out of his boot and slid
down the bank into the stream. The water came to midthigh, but as he waded slowly out, the water
quickly rose to chest level. The rain had made the normally placid stream boil.
 Do be careful, George called. If he lost his footing, he might be swept downstream. Did he know how
to swim?
He didn t acknowledge her call and kept wading. When he reached the rope, he grabbed it where it
stretched above the water and started to saw. The strands unraveled rapidly, and suddenly the sheep [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]