Business was business, and seduction was seduction, or a nitwitted invitation to lust, whether George Hugh agreed or not.
The young women at the pannychis flaunted an ungodly amount of their bosoms in satin ornates. One woman approached him, her plump lips flecked with Carmine, with a tam-O' shanter that reached her brows; though he could almost see her crinoline, and the chintz of her corset, he withdrew, feeling nothing but pity for her. She accosted him with seduction, whispered profanity in his ear and had almost brushed her hand against a small of his britches.
Julius had been watching him with a glass of wine in hand. He and the other men bellowed out laughter, and he joined them, ashamed of himself. Julius plunked a hand to his shoulder.
"My dear Hughes, if what you seek is a young lady, the finest and most decent, who shall allure you with the three phrases to groom your pride, then I tell you, your honours, that you're the most dimwitted young heir in the coast, and your father shall not have any tolerance whatsoever again for you!"
" Tolerance!" George snapped. He looked back to have a glimpse of his father and was sure the man had not passed him a fleeting glance all evening. On second thought, George considered that the man was equally ashamed of his son, who could not successfully speak to a woman or stand the sight of her bosom. His father had threatened to disown him if he hadn't a wife by November.
"I can't stand no fustylugs!" George said in defense, thinking Julius and their other friends had had too much to drink.
"You can stand no woman at all." Milton throated. George eyed the man, sullen.
"Bullock," he said. " I can stand a woman if she isn't a wagtail, you squire of alsatia."
" Wagtail? Tell me which you have seen this evening. All I see are a bunch of finely endowed young women, except of course you're threatened that none has addressed you as "Lord" ." Julius said.
George stood quiet, annoyed, ticked off, he scratched his stubble with a grimace. Coming to the party had been Julius's idea to get him a befitting wife, else George would have no thought for such degrading social event. At the far end of the room, his father conversed with the finest business men from off the coast of London, and probably told them how ashamed he was of his son.
George noticed an absolutely stunning woman close by, dressed in a claret red wool challis, a glass half-filled held between her delicate fingers, and her hair pinned in a chignon. The others noticed her the same time he did.
"One more." Julius suggested and gestured to her direction with his glass. George shook his head, he had had enough, having met seven women already that night and all had held a quizzing look down his britches.
"Not anymore, no, thank you."
"She doesn't look like a fustylugs to me," Fredrick said.
" Judging by her appearance, she'd call you Lord," Milton added, mocking him. A woman came by and greeted them, flashing her bare chest, she sent George a daring wink and he stiffened. Julius slapped his own forehead.
"You have no head for romance, your honours."
" I desire no head or tail for romance."
Looking ahead, he caught another glimpse of the wool challis young lady, declining from where she had been standing.
"Your catch will leave now."
"She's not my catch."
Julius and Milton hustled him forward by the shoulder, but he stopped midway, his heart lurching in his chest.
"What do I say, what do I say?" He found himself asking.
" Say her bosom is the finest you've seen this evening."
" Why, no. I have said that to five women already."
And George was convinced the five were indeed wagtails, else he would have had his cheek struck so hard.
"Go, good Lord!"
Indeed, the lady was about to leave. George followed behind her till he reached out the Arnold's house and noticed a cab man was in wait. He stopped in his track, watching her stride to her ride, but she stopped suddenly, and turned.
"Evening, my lady," George blurted without thought. Flashing him what he thought was a seductive smile, she withdrew from the wagon and came by him.
"Were you having a view of my backside, Sir?" She said, and George saw the flicker in her eyes, her smile told him she was pleased by his embarrassment. He intended to answer the affirmative and add that she had a beautiful back view; it was true, and she was the fairest ivory he had seen that night. But he decided against it, putting off Julius voice in his head. He thought he might as well listen to his own profanity and suffer the consequence rather than the utter unthinking of his friends.
"I'm a gentleman, if I must say so myself, Miss?" He stretched his hand and she took it to his surprise, without hesitation.
"I am George..."
"Hughes." She said.
" Ne'er knew I was quite popular."
"Your father says you're wretched in finding a wife."
George struggled to keep his eyes on her face, below, her dress lined her skin in a taunting V collar.
"I suppose he's right. I might have met you this night and said you have the finest bosom I had ever seen."
She laughed. " Fool." She adjusted her dress and George regretted immediately.
"I am sure the women were pleased." She said.
George bit back his laughter, he was amused. " Why, so. I'm grateful my father hadn't told them what wretched romantic I am."
Violet smiled and took her hand back from his, and that was when he realized he had been holding on.
"You seem a gentleman to me," she made to leave but stopped herself. " And I suppose as such you'd pick me at Helborne tomorrow, first thing at 4 O'clock."
George nodded curtly, excitement leaping to his gut. " I shall be pleased, Ms. Violet."