Married to the Earl
“It is hard to see how this will become a hospital,” she murmured.
“I should imagine you would rather see it as a grand house once more, ready for a ball.”
She glared at him. “Considering we hardly know one another, Lord Newhaven, it is a wonder you can imagine anything that I might think.”
He shrugged. “It is not hard to take a guess.”
“If we wish to take guesses, I would rather expect you would prefer this house to be used for raucous house parties.”
His lips quirked. “I suppose we should cease guessing then.”
“That would be preferable, yes.”
“Let us continue our tour.” He opened another door, leading through into a drawing room.
No furnishings existed and a thick layer of dust coated the grand stone mantlepiece. Beneath her feet, the rugs were worn and frayed. “This is going to take a lot of funds.”
“My understanding is we have enough to ensure the house can be converted into a hospital, but our current pledges will not cover the ongoing running of it.”
So, he knew something about his charity. That was interesting. She could not be certain why the earl had decided to take a closer look at how things were run but he was not entirely ignorant. However, if he was to be interfering with her work, she would have to speak up. They had far too much toil ahead of them for him to be causing any chaos.
She paused by the fireplace and turned to face him as he wrenched open the shutters on one window. Blinking in the sudden influx of light, she tilted her head. “Why exactly have you decided to assist the charity? Mr. Bartlett told me you are only a figurehead.”
She lifted a brow.
“Does it surprise you that I might wish to actually have a hand in the running of the charity?”
A smile curved his lips. “Well, I do enjoy a frank woman.” He strode over to join her by the fireplace. “And why have you taken up the mantle as the charity’s latest philanthropist?”
She could come up with some pithy remark perhaps. Some flippant reply that would have him eyeing her with amusement once more, but she could not help feel they had reached some odd moment of honesty. She blew out a breath. “I should like to find something useful with which to occupy myself. Being a widow is a tiresome occupation.”
“For someone like you, I imagine it is.”
“Someone like me?” She stiffened her shoulders.
“Someone as vivacious and as intelligent as you.”
The air flew from her lungs. She let her shoulders drop. “Oh.” for some reason, the flattery made her cheeks warm.