Feb 13 2010
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"You do realize that she will be of age in a few months?" Silas Sprackett looked at his client -’ or rather, at his client's guardian -’ with distaste. He may have made a small fortune helping Herbert Craddock plunder the estate of the late Earl of Elsworth, but that didn't mean he had to view him with any fondness.
Craddock regarded Sprackett with equal dislike. "What difference does that make?" he asked. "She would not be able to take over the management of her inheritance even if she knew the terms of her father's will. She'll do as she's told, just as she always has."
"Lady Anne does know that your guardianship ends when she is twenty-one," Sprackett said. "And even if she were not aware of that fact, others are. She will no longer need your permission to marry, and I assure you any prospective husband would soon discover the fact that she inherited everything outside the entail."
Craddock was about to dismiss the warning with a sneer, but then he paused. For years he had made sure his wife's niece was kept isolated from friends or relations, and that included any potential suitors. However, his own daughter was now of an age to enter society, and isolation was no longer possible. So far Mrs. Craddock had been able to keep the girl at her side, hidden among the chaperones, while Corinne basked in the admiration of various young men. That had sufficed this season, but the admiration had yet to produce any offers. If this continued, sooner or later Lady Anne might attract some attention of her own. He narrowed his eyes. He had a glimpse of the future and the sight was discomfiting.
"I will have to find her a husband myself," he thought, "someone I can control. Perhaps. . . ."
Craddock rose and stomped out, not bothering with even a nod of farewell. Sprackett had grown accustomed to the rudeness. It had been different with the earl, but then the earl had been a gentleman.
Sprackett grimaced. If only he had not been so desperate for money when Craddock appeared with his proposition. But what was done was done.
It had all been most unfortunate.
Especially for Lady Anne.