July 2001 (August 2001)

Disclaimer: I really would not like the estate of the late Ms. Georgette Heyer to come across this. This scene is unaccountably missing from the end of chapter seven of The Foundling. Pastiche is fun. Having canonical grounds to use certain phrases is even more fun. Many thanks to elynross, who has read the book. Do not archive this story without permission.


It was the custom of the most honorable Adolphus Gillespie Vernon Ware, Duke of Sale, Marquis of Ormsby, and possessor of a number of additional lesser titles that it quite fatigued him to contemplate, to relax more completely in the company of his cousin Gideon than at any other time, and perhaps to partake a little more of liquid refreshment than he otherwise did. On the present occasion, it would be unjust to say that the Duke was bosky, or even a trifle foxed, but after drinking several toasts, most of them proposed by Captain Ware, to the prospective adventures of plain Mr. Dash, of Nowhere in Particular, he was leaning back in his chair with every appearance of ease, a soft, open look in his eyes.

Captain Ware shook his head and tapped his empty glass. "What, giving up so early, Adolphus? Or does your newfound spirit of adventure not extend to another glass of this excellent wine?"

"Oh, no!" The Duke smiled affectionately at his big cousin. "You know very well that you can hold twice as much wine as I can, being twice my size. Besides, I mean to keep a clear head for my business tomorrow!"

"And you still do not mean to tell me what that business is?"

"You shall have the full story afterwards, Gideon, I promise you."

The Duke got to his feet, and his cousin followed suit. "Leaving already?"

"I must make an early start," the Duke said, but he did not move, only looked up with clear, untroubled eyes as his cousin stepped close to him, and allowed himself to be drawn down, with no resistance at all, onto the couch and into Captain Ware's arms.

"In good time, my gillyflower," the Captain promised him, even as he began to dispose of the Duke's cravat in a way that would have horrified his devoted valet. But the Duke had broken away from the tyranny of loyal retainers and merely laughed, and tilted his head back for a kiss.

As Captain Ware's orders to Wragby had been to retire for the night and leave them to fend for themselves, and as Wragby was not only devoted to his master, but also admirably discreet, there was nothing to disturb them. The Duke, stripped of his perfectly cut clothes, was warm and pliant, with a look in his eyes that was rarely seen by anyone but his cousin. Though the couch was narrow, Captain Ware was strong and athletic, and the Duke quite accommodating, and amidst gasps for breath and a little gentle laughter, matters came to a very satisfactory conclusion for both of them.

"You take such good care of me, Gideon," the Duke said with sleepy affection. "Though I believe you have quite ruined my neckcloth."

The Duke looked very young, and the disarray of his locks owed nothing to any attempt to achieve the Windswept style; Captain Ware tousled them even further. "I am confident it will do you good to take care of yourself for some time, my little one."

"I mean to try." The Duke sat up, seemingly a little reluctant to leave his cousin's embrace. "I believe you tore my shirt. How fortunate that I had all my parcels sent here!"

"A positive stroke of genius," his cousin agreed teasingly. "Do you mean to get dressed already? It is not so very late, and I thought you were throwing off the shackles of your conventional, proper ways."

"But you know how terribly my health suffers when I keep late hours," the Duke said primly, and then laughed as he was pulled down again.

When the Duke saw himself out some time later, he was not dressed in a manner that would have met with his valet's exacting standards, but he was quite cheerful, and smiled to himself all the way to the Saracen's Head.

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