tossed his cloak into a puddle to protect her slippers. It had been a cold night, he couldn’t put the cloak back on, and the coachman wouldn’t let him in the carriage with the ruined garment.
Chomping interrupted her reverie. Sport’s nose was immersed in the chair cushion again. “I said, stop that infernal chewing,” she scolded. “That’s it, you’re out.”
As she rose from the divan, the spaniel dug frantically in the upholstery. By the time she reached the dog, he’d secured his prize. Dangling from sharp canine teeth was the most magnificent string of pearls she’d ever seen.
“Good heavens, where did you get that?” She reached for the necklace, but Sport leaped off the chair, tripped on the pearls and struggled to his feet. “Oh my God, don’t break them,” she squealed.
Dragging the strand between his legs, Sport ducked under a library table.
“Come out of there at once!” Lady Davenport commanded. The spaniel backed further under the table, and closed his mouth over a glowing pearl.
“No, no, don’t chew,” she gasped. She could find nothing to flush out the dog — no yard stick or broom — and she certainly didn’t want the servants involved. Taking great care with her satins and laces, she hiked up her skirt and lowered herself to her knees. Her enormous breasts hovered just above the floor. As she lowered herself to crawl under the table, she held her bosoms aloft with one arm.
Sport’s eyes filled with excitement. He bowed, front legs out and rump in the air. “This is not playtime,” she warned the dog.
Relinquishing her burden, Lady Davenport made a grab for the necklace and pulled. The spaniel backed away. Eyes bright, he jerked his head back and forth, whipping the precious strand.
Lady Davenport immediately let go. “You abominable beast,” she hissed. “I’ll have you beaten and boiled.” The dog bounced with a yip and frisked away in triumph, catching the strand on the claw foot of a globe table. She hoisted herself to her feet, supporting her weight on a standing candelabra, then followed the delighted dog. Just as she was on the verge of grabbing him, the spaniel scooted behind a potted fern.
Heart hammering from exertion, Lady Davenport approached the plant. “Come out, little doggie,” she trilled. “I’ve got the nicest treat for you. How about a juicy beating straight down to the bone?” The spaniel sat on the pearls and yawned.
With a speed and agility not often seen in one her age, Lady Davenport dashed to the fern, crushing fronds beneath the weight of her chests as she made a lightning-fast grab for Sport. She missed.
The spaniel skittered on the parquet, dragging the pearls with him. She cut him off before he could escape from behind the fern.
The door burst open and Hugh strode into the library. “Is something the matter, Mother?” he said. Startled, Sport dropped the pearls. In one quick swipe, Lady Davenport snatched the necklace and dropped it under the fern’s flattened foliage.
“Mother, what are you doing to that plant?” said Hugh, lifting the excited spaniel into his arms.
“It’s an interesting phenomena,” Lady Davenport replied, trying to control her breathing. “Ferns have the most remarkable … fronds.”
“I suppose,” Hugh said.
“Long fronds with many leaves. Or would you say each frond is a leaf?”
“You take me by storm, Mother. Do you really want to know about fern leaves?”
“Well, they are fascinating,” she said.
“Not to you. Not unless that fern is illicitly dipping its pistil in an inferior plant’s stamen.”
“Don’t be disgusting, Hugh,” she replied. Lady Davenport drew herself to her full imposing height and stalked to the door. “I want that dog
Hugh put Sport down and the dog slunk from the room.
With false composure, she addressed her son. “Before I vacate the library, dear, I wanted you to know I’ve planned a little house party for the month of June. Our guests