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"Have you gone mad?" Elinor Russell stared at her brother, torn between disbelief and horror.
Rupert, the Viscount Newell, twisted away to avoid his sister's eye, but spoke placatingly. "Now, now, there is no need to get overset. The man is an earl, after all. It could be the making of you."
"The making of me? The making me a whore, you mean!"
Newell tried to chuckle. "You're a clever girl. I'm sure you could bring him up to snuff if you put your mind to it, and then you'd be a countess."
Elinor picked up a vase. the first thing to come to hand, and threw it at her brother. To her regret, it missed him and smashed harmlessly against the wall. "Do not patronize me, you worthless slug. We both know full well that the Earl of Farnsworth is a disgusting, diseased degenerate, who may be the only man on earth who could make you seem decent and honorable by comparison."
Newell looked offended. "It is not as if there is any choice. I owe far more than I have. It's a mercy Farnsworth is willing to take you in payment. Otherwise I could end up in the Marshalsea."
"If you think I will agree to becoming his mistress to save you from debtors prison, you are sadly mistaken. You are the one who gambled your fortune away. Why should I be the one to pay?"
"My dear sister, if you think anyone is asking for your agreement, it is you who are mistaken. You are in my charge, and you will do as I say. Were I to be ruined, you would be too. I assure you, should you find yourself on the streets without a penny to your name, you would think it paradise to be a rich man's mistress."
Elinor looked down in disgust at the emerald silk of her gown. She had been surprised when her brother purchased it for her. Purchased it, hah! As if he had the funds to pay for anything. She had thought it unsuitable for a girl making her first appearance in London society, especially since they should be in mourning. She had not realized it was intended to display her for purchase.
"I cannot believe this. You have gambled yourself into ruin, and now you hope to save yourself by ruining me." She turned from him in disgust.
"Enough!" He glared at his sister. "Thank the heavens that you look well enough. Had I known it sooner, I might have found you a rich husband, but it is too late for that. Farnsworth holds enough of my paper to ruin me. He is willing to take you instead, so that is that."
Newell loomed over his sister. He was a large man, florid and running to fat, but still strong enough to be generally considered intimidating. It severely annoyed him that she did not appear to be intimidated. Instead she simply looked at him scornfully. "So this is what gentlemen do after they drink and gamble away their fortunes? They turn pander? How noble! How honorable!"