Authors: Sherry Lynn Ferguson
Neither the Earl of Penham nor his son Reginald, the
Viscount Langsford, had ever shown the slightest interest in the source of the family’s wealth, though they
were mightily beholden to its continuance.
Richard Marksley mused on that as he drew his
horse to a halt and surveyed with pride the extensive
pastures behind Penham Hall. Pride was all he could
claim for his hard work, since Penham was not, and
never would be, his. The privilege of possession lay
solely with his uncle and his reprobate of a cousin. But
Richard had been Penham’s responsible keeper for
many years, and the estate exhibited his care.
“You must be pleased, sir,” Appleby said. The steward
had drawn his own horse even with Richard’s Apollo.
“The old place looks much better than you had hoped”
“Indeed,” Richard said. On this particularly fine September morning, with the light strengthening over
the dew-damp grass, Penham looked peaceful and
prosperous. “‘Tis difficult to credit that Reginald as
good as gambled the place away this summer.”
“I doubt the Viscount would ever do so intentionally,
Richard spared him a smile. “You are unfailingly
kind, Appleby. For that, and your good sense, I am
“I thank you, sir.”
“We will do well enough this year,” Richard
observed, looking back at the Hall, “but the future must
be addressed. Penham must grow if it is to survive. The
estate cannot merely be preserved” The word might as
easily have comprehended his invalid of an uncle. At
the impending prospect of Reginald as Earl, Richard
felt a distinct chill.