The marchioness glanced around her drawing room. “It is… cozy.”
“It suits. Now tell me again what you’re doing here. What is this business about talking sense into the Earl of Clarion?”
“Danbury wants him for Home Secretary. The current government frets while unrest seethes and the Home Secretary either refuses to face it or is unable to formulate any constructive policy for dealing with it. Clarion is perfect, but he does nothing, as if the appointment will fall into his lap as a reward for excellence. We’re here to nudge him to make the right friends and sow seeds, but he isn’t cooperating.”
“Perhaps he doesn’t want it,” Delia said, trying to put the man she knew into the picture the marchioness painted.
“Oh, he wants it. I can see it in his eyes. But he refuses to do what is necessary.”
Delia blinked at that. “Lacking charm?” It wasn’t a word she would attribute to her aristocratic neighbor.
“That’s the least of it. He can hold his own in political discourse, but he hates to socialize and positively refuses to find himself a wife. He needs a political hostess. But will he listen to Danbury and I? No.”
“It is difficult to socialize in Ashmead,” Delia pointed out.
“Exactly. It is a backwater. I admit, however, it has more than its share of interesting people. Have you met Sir Robert Benson and his wife?”
“The earl’s double? I have. Delightful people.”
The marchioness chuckled. “Exactly. Ashmead’s remoteness isn’t fatal, but he must marshal his resources. A house party is the thing. The stubborn man refuses.”
“That’s why you’re here? To convince Clarion to entertain?”
The marchioness beamed at her as if she were a particularly bright pupil. “Lady Madelyn, his sister, will be recruited to manage the thing. Have you met her? She wasn’t much in London during your tenure.”
“I have not. She is much loved here,” Delia murmured.
“And now that I know he has you for a neighbor, things will fall into place. You would make a spectacular hostess.?”
Delia choked on her tea. “Me? Dorothea, he can barely stand the sight of me! We rarely speak.”
Note: excerpts from works in progress may have not yet been edited, will likely undergo change, and may not even make it into the final work!