As she stepped down from the carriage, Mrs. Hortensia Wald surveyed the Chilverton Park demesne. Sylvia Hilliard, that was, had done very well for herself by marrying the nearly addlepated old Earl of Chilverton. And Clara Hilliard had certainly seized her main chance at proximity to a title, considering her chances of marrying one were questionable at best. She waited for her son’s arm before proceeding to the door. “Now, Erskine, you will see a splendid home, and a splendid heiress waiting to be claimed.”
Erskine Wald gave his mother a sidelong glance. “I know, Mother, I practically grew up here.” He was familiar with his mother’s views for him concerning marriage.
“Yes, yes, I know dear. But that has been many years since. Your father’s passing has made a difference for us, as you know. Just keep your eyes open. That’s all I ask.” Erskine shrugged resignedly. He had other intentions for this visit to his old friends. A lady and friend had by all accounts been cruelly treated by her now-former fiancé. He was determined to see her righted.
Mrs. Wald, a large woman and substantially built, was also a large personality. She possessed strong features, a loud but carefully modulated voice, and a square jaw with a perfectly terrifying smile. She was an acute observer of character and an enthusiastic toady, but generous and good hearted. Her keen, small eyes glinted with intelligence and plenty of life force.
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