Chapter 5

Drea was astonished and overwhelmingly relieved when Madame Dabbs told her she was to take the extra duty of waiting tables for the celebratory feast for Baron Clay Setti's son. That indicated that Lord Jasper had explained to Lord Taybor that nothing improper was afoot. She'd fully expected to be sent below stairs in disgrace to face Master Ray and his punishment. Drea had been shocked to her bones when Lord Taybor had said those things. It had actually taken a few seconds for her to comprehend what he was saying. Lord Jasper must have also convinced his brother that Drea's active brain was of no importance. He'd told her many times that it was a small issue as far as her position in the staff went. Drea suspected differently.

Drea and Mayte had changed into their white clothes, which meant they'd be in close proximity to the dining tables. Drea shakily told Mayte of her ordeal on the veranda and Mayte was shocked and astonished.

"Such a conversation should not have been held infront of you, Drea." Mayte said supportively. "Or infront of any woman!"

"Mayte, people aren't thinking that are they?" Drea asked in concern. "The household and the staff? They don't think I'm some ... some ... slutty favourite of Lord Jasper's do they? I couldn't stand that." Her lip trembled.

"No of course not. I've heard nothing. It's a ridiculous notion! Drea if that was speculated, you'd be back in the scullery or even out on the streets!" Mayte pointed out.

"Yes. Yes of course." Drea nodded. "Lord Jasper stopped Lord Taybor from humiliating me, Mayte. He stood up to him right infront of me. He shouldn't have done that. It was wrong."

"But you're pleased he did." Mayte grinned.

"Yes and that feels wrong too." Drea frowned. "I'm not pleased that Lord Jasper risked a fight with his own brother because of someone like me. I suppose I'm pleased that he cared enough to think about my feelings. No one's ever stood up for me, yet Lord Jasper's done so on a few occasions. Why would he do that, Mayte?"

"He's not like Lord Taybor, Drea. Lord Taybor is very much a steadfast traditionalist who lives right here on the grounds all the time. Lord Jasper's met different people from many places. Our traditions and ways aren't held so rigidly by everyone outside and Lord Jasper sees this." Mayte said knowingly.

"At the University?"

"Mainly, yes, I'd say. There are no women there, obviously, but he bound to hear other men talking about their women-folk. All that aside, he's a much more mild-natured man than Lord Taybor. Lady Aurora and Lady Maya were discussing it once and they reckon Lord Taybor is very much like Lord Cassidy's late half-brother. Lord Jasper is like Lord Cassidy." Mayte nodded.

"How come I never overhear any of these conversations?" Drea laughed.

"Oh I know where to stand." Mayte laughed too.

The dining hall hosted around fifty men, all friends of the Hellions. All three Lords were there as well as Duke Landor, all seated along the top table with the main guest, Baron Clay Setti, and two of his brothers. Lord Taybor was quite naturally commanding the conversation with tales and anecdotes that had the guests roaring with laughter. The current anecdote was about a fifteen year old Lord Jasper and the twenty-two year old daughter of an associate of Lord Cassidy. This associate was determined to gain Lord Cassidy's favour and marry his rather plain-looking daughter off to Lord Jasper.

"Tell them where you hid!" Lord Taybor boomed and Jasper smiled. "Go on! I'll tell them. Our sister found him in her wardrobe with the frills and ribbons!" Everyone roared with laughter.

"Seven years is a big gap when you're fifteen!" Lord Jasper laughed too. "Thing is, father knew full well I was in there and said nothing!"

"Did you?" Taybor boomed and Lord Cassidy smiled and nodded. "In retrospect, it was a shrewd move, Jas. Your children would have looked like gut-blocked horses, without a doubt."

"Ack! Go on, spoil my dinner!"

"Something to wash it down with. Wine!" Taybor waved his hand and Drea moved noiselessly forward with two jugs of wine. "Ah that's bet ... well hello." Taybor grinned at Drea and Jasper glanced at him. "Pity she didn't look like this one, eh Jas?" Jasper smiled weakly and concentrated on his meal. "Drea, wasn't it? Speak."

"Yes, Lord Hellion. Drea Silver." Drea nodded her lowered head.

"Gid'al te sou qui utterent Northhold, can'ot gid?" Taybor switched to Northhold and looked at Jasper. "Utterent."

"Posti, Lord Hellion. Jo utts en lil Northhold." Drea answered quickly and Taybor looked more than surprised. Jasper smiled slightly at his dinner. Taybor had asked Drea if she was the one who spoke Northhold and Drea had replied perfectly, telling him that she spoke a little of the language.

"Brains and beauty!" Taybor guffawed. "What do you think, Jas? You're the college boy. She your type?"

"Many people know two languages, Tay, even women." Jasper replied, refilling his glass.

"Oh don't be so offhand Jas! I think you're astounding, Drea." Taybor announced and Jasper gave him a warning look. "I don't mind complimenting pretty girls, especially on their birthday. Speak, girl."

"Thank you, Lord Hellion." Drea muttered in complete embarrassment due to all the attention she was receiving.

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