Fortunately the next inn was reached in little over a quarter of an hour. It was not one of the better hostelries, but there were two bedchambers free, as well as a private parlor where they could dine. Insult was added to injury when the landlady informed Chloe that she would not be able to bathe immediately. There was only one tub available, and his lordship had commanded that it be brought to him first.
She stormed, she wept, she pled, but Everingham's chivalry stopped short of his relinquishing the inn's only bathtub.
She sat in her room, clad in her damp and smelly dress, for the better part of an hour before the tub was brought to her and cans of hot water were carried in. The water was dumped into the tub, a towel was tossed upon the bed. There was no maid to assist her, so she was forced to tussle with buttons and laces. Even worse, she had no soap, for she had not brought any and all the inn had to offer was harsh and scratchy.
She emerged from the bath, smelling better and feeling a little cleaner, but in no good humor. When she pulled her primrose challis morning dress from her portmanteau, she found it dreadfully wrinkled.
She put it on anyway.
Cleanly clothed at last, she attacked her hair, tangled from the night before and damp from her bath. It stubbornly refused to behave. She finally pulled it back and tied it with a ribbon at the nape of her neck. A quick glance at the cloudy mirror told her she looked less than her best. I do not care. This is no longer an exciting adventure. I hate him. I wouldn't marry him if he were the last man on earth.
With that resolve firmly in mind, she strode from the room and downstairs to the private parlor. She intended to demand that he first find her a maid, and second, return her to her family.
He was sitting at the table sipping brandy. "It is about time. I have been awaiting you this age."
When he made no motion to offer her refreshment, she planted her fists upon her hips. "I suppose I must order my own tea?"
"If you want some." He contemplated the golden liquid in his glass. "I have been thinking, Miss Hazelbourne, and have come to the conclusion that we will not suit."
"Ha! As if I would even consider you as a husband."
"I cannot understand what possessed me to yield to your importunities. I must have been drunk to consider an elopement."
"You were as eager as I. You said that you wanted to marry me and take care of me. If this is how you do so, I pity any woman foolish enough to become your wife."
"I did take care of you. I provided a handsome coach and ample funds. You cannot expect me to be a nurse or doctor as well."
"A husband should care for his wife in sickness," she said. "It so states in the marriage vows."
"You are not my wife, so I have not promised you anything of the sort."
"You should begin as you would go on."
"There are servants for that sort of thing. Mother would never have subjected me to such indignities." He refilled his empty glass.
"My mother would have held my head while I was being sick and then washed my face afterward."
"Perhaps you should return to her then."
"I would, if I could. Oh, Jeremy, you neglected me so dreadfully. How could you be so unkind?"
"I, unkind? I did not soil your clothing and practically ruin your coach," he replied, clearly unmoved.
"I could not help myself. I get so sick when I travel."
"Well, then, why did you suggest we elope? You must have known it is at least three days' travel to Scotland, if the roads are dry."
"I did not think of that when I made my plans. I only wanted to escape."