Friday, 5 April 2013

Friday, April 05, 2013 -

Cecily's Revenge

by Geraldine Hillis
Published: Apr 05, 2013
Words: 22,137
Category: romance
Orientation: M/F
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"Man that is born of woman hath but a short time to live - ashes to ashes, dust to dust - in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen." Mere fragments of the burial service penetrated Henry Fairfax's consciousness as he watched the coffin of his elder brother lowered into the gaping earth. But he was no longer just Henry Fairfax. Since George's death only four days previously, he had been Henry Fairfax, Earl of Connington. He allowed the damp soil to trickle through his fingers into the open grave, then abruptly turned on his heel, pausing only long enough to take the arm of his distraught mother, and lead her back to the house. Though he could not see Cecily's face, shrouded as it was in her black veils, he was acutely aware of her speculative gaze.

Back at the house, he mechanically accepted the condolences of friends and neighbours, and tried to comfort the weeping Dowager Lady Fairfax, almost prostrate with grief over the passing of her first-born son. "Poor, dear George," she crooned. "So young - such a good boy."

Henry gritted his teeth. Her Ladyship, of course had not been made fully aware of the circumstances surrounding the death. It would have destroyed her completely to know that her beloved George had died in a drunken tavern brawl - indeed, most of the details of his life, let alone his death, had been kept from his doting mother. Her heart, already broken, would have failed absolutely had she been told of the drinking and the gambling and the women of ill-repute. Henry patted her helplessly on the shoulder, then called for her maid to attend her. Having seen her safely escorted to her room, he excused himself and sought the sanctuary of the study - his study now.

George - big brother George ... how had he felt about him? He downed a brandy, and tried to sort out his feelings for the departed Earl. Had he loved him? Yes - he supposed he had. As children they had played together, fought together, got into mischief together. They had climbed trees, constructed boats, taunted their tutors, and generally enjoyed as carefree a boyhood as their position had allowed. But later, as they had grown up, the four year age difference had begun to make itself felt. George had gone away to university, and then on to his tour of Europe, and had come back a different person. No longer had wanted to hunt or fish or play cricket with his little brother - his interests now were in frequenting the low taverns, and in the women who haunted them.

Henry sighed, remembering his own disappointment when George had returned so changed. He had spent his evenings out of the house, coming home drunk and ill-tempered in the early hours of the morning. Rising at noon, he had moped around, snarling at the staff until it was time to return to the 'pleasures' of the town.