This brief scene gives some context as to why Hugh Grey, the hero of A LADY’S DECEPTION, bought a commission and ended up in North America during the War of 1812. Once part of the Prologue, it’s told from Adam Grey’s point of view. If you read A FALSE PROPOSAL, you’ll remember that Adam is Hugh’s brother.
“I had to speak to you immediately,” Hugh blurted out. “It could not wait.”
Adam rose and waved a hand toward the other chair. “Certainly.” He poured Hugh some wine and said, “What is so urgent?”
Hugh plunked his glass down on the table and paced, not saying a word. Adam waited patiently, merely glancing at his brother every so often. The ticking of the Ormolu clock and the susurration of Hugh’s boots on the Turkey carpet were the only sounds that intruded.
Halting abruptly, Hugh finally spoke. “I need to borrow some money. I’ll pay you back, I swear it.”
“Might I ask for what?”
“Since it’s your blunt I’m asking for, I’ll tell you. I wish to purchase a commission.”
“What?” Adam cupped a hand around his ear, feigning deafness. “Has my hearing failed? You wish to take up arms, after all this time?”
Hugh sat down in the chair across from Adam. “You know I had good reason not to join up before. I had to look after Father.”
Adam raised a cynical brow. “And what a fine job you did.” He immediately regretted his remark when he saw the way Hugh’s face seemed to wilt with despair. “Forgive me, that was uncalled for. You’re not to blame for our father’s character. I’ll lend you the money, of course. But why the rush? And what prompted this decision?”
“I’m tired of waiting for something to change. For Father to take some action, instead of trying to blackmail and bully his way out of his troubles.” Hugh rose and resumed his pacing. “There’s nothing for me at Longmere. I spend my days helping the tenants and doing what I can to prevent the house from collapsing around us. But without money, it’s not enough. It’s never enough.” Hugh laughed, but there was no mirth in it. “Father gave up on me a long time ago. He doesn’t even acknowledge my efforts. Maybe if I’m gone, and he’s left alone, he’ll be forced to act. To work out a deal with Broxton and begin to take responsibility for Longmere.
Adam shrugged. “I suppose it’s possible. But the army? What about a Grand Tour?”
Hugh snorted. “I don’t have the money for that, or the interest. And fighting Boney is not for me. I’m going to Canada.”
“Ah. The war with the Americans. It’s cold and barren there, Hugh.”
“That will suit me fine.”
Adam fixed a penetrating gaze on him. “This decision wouldn’t have anything to do with Miss Eleanor Broxton, would it?”
Hugh sprang from his chair and went to stand by the windows. “I have nothing to offer her, and even if I did, her father wouldn’t allow it.”
Adam ached for his brother, because what he said was true. He wouldn’t offer up any platitudes, because he didn’t think Hugh would appreciate them. “How much do you need?”
“I calculate 1,000 pounds will get me into the Cavalry and give me a bit extra to purchase some necessaries.”
“At what rank?”
Adam frowned. “No. You must have a higher rank, at least Lieutenant.”
“It will cost more, and I have no need of it.”
“Believe me, you will. I’ll have my man of business send you a bank draft for 3,000 pounds. Enough for the Foot Guards, if you prefer.”
Hugh got to his feet. “Thank you, Adam.” He thrust out his hand and Adam grasped it.
“Must you leave so soon?”
“I need to start getting my affairs in order.” But he paused in the doorway. “I’m sorry I’ll miss your wedding.”
“I’m sorry, too. Cass is very fond of you, Hugh.”
“As I am of her.”
Adam nodded, and Hugh was gone, almost as quickly as he’d arrived. Flynn appeared and announced dinner. Adam barely noticed what he was eating. He couldn’t stop thinking about Hugh. He didn’t like him going off into the North American wilderness, exposing himself to all manner of risk and hardship. But he fully understood his reasons for doing so.