I told Josiah of my plan as soon as he had breakfasted and was settling down to his newspaper and his morning cup of heated water with lemon – he is allowed nothing stronger til his gout is fully dispersed. I was a little nervous of his reaction so just took a large breath and said outright that I was sending a carriage to bring Little Bradstone to Sydney Walk. He yelped a little then gave a short cough – a sign that his foot is still quite painful, I expect, or that the lemon had caught him unprepared. He looked at me exactly as if I had aimed a shotgun to him.
“Steady on, Eff,” he said, when he could speak, “When was this decided?”
“Yesterday afternoon, when I learned that the poor boy is in the clutches of Mrs Pitt, ” I answered. Josiah knows how evil she is and his expression deepened.
“What does Boo say? Does her husband agree? Where shall he sleep – have you thought about this at all, Eff?” Josiah spoke in a tight voice that made me sorry for the pain his gout must cause him, even though it is all his own doing, really.
“Boo will be happy for me to be the boy’s saviour, Bradstone will be powerless to argue in the face of such generosity on our part and the boy shall sleep in our room. I have thought about this as much as I need to.”
I think being Mrs Doughty’s friend has had a beneficial effect on me – I would brook no argument, not even from my own husband!
After that conversation, I instructed Villiers to arrange a carriage to take me first to Boo to tell her of my favour to her and then on to Mrs Pitt’s lair. As I left Sydney Walk, the maid was putting an iron over Josiah’s newspaper again – it had become quite crumpled during our exchange.