What would a hero do if a lady in need appeared on his doorstep? Lift her gently in his arms and carry her inside? Fanny puzzled over the question as she rode down Clarion Hall’s lane in a pleasant little gig, Mr. Benson at the reins. Sally forth, sword in hand, to attack the villain pursuing her?
Her dream that she might find such a hero at Clarion Hall died quickly. Eli Benson did not fit any of Fanny’s ideas about a hero—not by any measure. He wasn’t particularly tall. His pleasant face had nothing of the dark brooding hero nor his looks anything of the blond Adonis she pictured for the next book. A hero strode forth with an air of command. Mr. Benson had the competent air of a solicitor. A hero would not, she was certain, sit and consider the legal aspects of the lady’s situation or whether or not she was entitled to his help before acting.
They turned onto the road downhill to the Willow, and Fanny admitted something else. You, Fanny Hancock are a shop clerk, not some grand lady. Truthfully, she didn’t think much of the ladies in most of the novels she read. She tried to give those in her books a bit more backbone, but they still left rescue to the hero. A girl needed dreams. If she were brutally honest, she came to Clarion Hall hoping to find a hero who would take her burdens off her shoulders. Dreams indeed.
The gig hit a rut and lurched to one side. The man at her side easily brought it under control. Yes, competent was the word for Eli Benson. As they bounced on down the hill toward the Willow, she couldn’t help thinking her hero would have whisked the lady away in his well-sprung carriage richly fitted out with plush seats, clever pockets for drinks, windows to block out road dust, and a soft blanket to cover her knees. It would have footmen behind and be drawn by four white horses, and—sigh.