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“Frank, so good of you to come,” said Sarah’s father as he extended his hand to the first guest.
“Well, we had nothing else to do tonight, so I figured why not?” Frank said it with a twinkle in his eye, but the smile Sarah’s father returned did not reach his eyes. It made Sarah like Frank immediately, even as she quelled a sense of exasperation of his jibes at her father, which were bound to make her own life more difficult.
“This can’t be your daughter,” Frank said as he moved past his host.
Sarah smiled as far as her lips would stretch and reached out a hand as answer.
“The very same,” her father answered for her.
Frank shook his head. “I cannot conceive of such a little tyke having grown into such a young lady!” Then he appeared to gather himself, taking one of her hands in his as he bowed deeply, kissed her gloved fingers, and said, “Enchanté, mademoiselle.”
“Merci, monsieur. Refreshments are laid out in the drawing room. Please feel free to help yourself.”
“I most certainly will. Thank you very much.”
He ambled off much too slowly for Sarah’s comfort and she was relieved when the next guest entered, giving her and her father both an excuse to divert their attention away from Frank.
The guests all arrived in quick succession, which meant Sarah and her father were not left standing by the door very long. Once they had ushered everyone into their home, Sarah went to check on dinner while her father joined the guests.
Peggy was elbow deep in custard when Sarah entered the kitchen. “Has everyone got here, then?”
“They have. Can I help with anything?”
“Not at all, ma’am. At this rate, the roast will be ready to come out of the oven just when dessert is ready to go in, leaving everything just enough time to rest before it has to be served. Everything will be perfect.”
“You’re sure there’s nothing I can do to assist you?”
“Not a thing, ma’am. You belong out there, and you’d best get a move on before they take note o’ your absence.”
Sarah let out a sigh. She wanted to argue that she didn’t belong out there at all, but what was the use? Peggy was right. If she didn’t get back out there soon, it would be remarked upon, and no good could come of that. So she mustered her courage and out she went.
To be continued…