FORTUNE SAID (A Haberdashers Tale)
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The rose is red, the violet's blue,
The honey's sweet, and so are you.
Thou are my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou'd be you.
Whit Whitman ran the brush over his lordship's coat one last time. Perfection. Now if he could convince Gideon to stay precisely like that for the rest of the evening it would be his fait accompli. But Gideon Wolfe, Earl of Harrington was a force unto himself.
"What is the entertainment tonight, sir?" He didn't ask out of any curiosity; it was possible he knew the earl's social calendar better than the earl himself. But it was something of a tradition to finish off their preparations with a chat about where Gideon was going.
"The Wynders tonight, Whit."
"That should prove to be a pleasant evening."
"I think you mean boring, and typically I would agree. But Lady Spencer asked me especially to attend. She has something she wants to show me in the library."
Whit grinned. "Ah, that makes a good deal more sense. You are an inspiration to us all, my lord."
Gideon grinned in return. "Far be it from me to disappoint a beautiful woman."
"I can only hope to live up to your fine example, sir."
And with that the earl left for his social occasion, like a ship set to sail. Whit tidied the dressing area and inspected the wardrobe to ensure all was in readiness for the morrow. It was still early. There was probably a card game in the stables. Or if he went downstairs to the kitchens his cousin's wife Grace might have left out some biscuits. But he felt unsettled and restless, and didn't want to do either of those things. He felt like he needed to be somewhere else entirely, and that feeling had been plaguing him more and more of late. If it weren’t his duty to be at beck and call upon the earl's return from this evening's social obligation he would have been tempted to go to a pub. But it was his duty, and he didn't plan to do anything that would cause Gideon to think of replacing him. Although surely there would be time enough for one drink. Gideon was rarely home early when he had planned an assignation.
If it were only the drink that Whit were after, he could certainly find something here in the townhouse. But it was the company he was seeking. Anonymous, convivial company. He had friends among the house staff, but there was always a certain strain when you were around people you knew, people you had to keep up appearances with. Yes, he would go for one drink and be home in plenty of time to greet the earl.