The American Earl

The American Earl Read Online Free PDF Page A

Book: The American Earl Read Online Free PDF
Author: Joan Wolf
Tags: Romance, Regency
    Maria was amazed. “Your father never told you about us?”
    “No. He was an American, through and through. He even fought against England in the War of Independence.”
    What kind of a man would take up arms against the country of his birth?I held my tongue, but with difficulty.
    Maria pointed to the structure that lay beyond the King’s Tower.  It was built in the same golden stone as the house, but in the Georgian style.
    Maria said, “Those are the new stables. They were built by our grandfather.”
    Evan’s blue eyes widened as he took in the size of the stable. “Great heavens! How many horses do you have here?”
    “Only six,” I said, and cleared my throat so he wouldn’t hear the pain I always felt when I thought of all my beautiful horses sold to people who wouldn’t love them like I did. “We have my mare, my father’s old hunter, and four elderly carriage horses.”
    He threw me a quick glance but I maintained a stoic face. 
    “I see.”
    Maria said, “Julia and I used to have a pony. Her name was Feathers and she taught both Julia and me to ride. When Papa sold her Julia and I were heartbroken.”
    She looked at me. “Weren’t we Julia?”
    I clenched my teeth and said nothing. I had wanted to kill my father when he sold Feathers.
    Evan said, “Can we go into the house now?”
    Grateful for the change of topic, I nodded and said, “Of course. First I’ll show you the state rooms in the old house. They have been closed up for some years now. My mother occasionally used them to throw grand house parties, but after she died we didn’t need them anymore. I think you will like to see them, however.”
    We started with the drawing room, which had been added to the original house in the fifteenth century.  Unfortunately, all of the furniture was swathed in holland covers, but the room’s beautiful proportions were still visible.  Next we passed into the huge formal dining room and thence to the bedroom apartments, where kings had slept. Even though the furniture was covered, the great glory of Stoverton – its vast collection of paintings - were enough to impress even the most ignorant colonial.  The paintings were usually covered too, but I had removed the protective linens because I wanted the American to see what magnificence he had inherited.
    We looked at the Titian “Portrait of a Young Man,” a self-portrait of Rembrandt, a collection of Holbein portraits and many beautiful landscapes by Poussin, Watteau and Claude.  We also had a Holy Family painted by Raphael, which was priceless.  Small bronze statues were displayed on tables.  My favorite was the equestrian statue by Bernini. 
    As we left the last room and approached the long gallery, the earl said, “We don’t have as many valuable paintings in all of America as you have in just this one house.”
    I stared at him. He had sounded disapproving!
    The long gallery was next, my favorite place in the old part of the house. It was a long open room, and its walls of delicate chestnut-brown paneling were lined with portraits of the Marshall family and their friends. My mother used to use it as a ballroom.
    There were portraits of blond-haired earls, family portraits of mothers with children, equestrian portraits, portraits with dogs, even a portrait of a haughty looking woman holding a parrot.   
    My favorite portrait of all was a picture of the first earl’s dear friend, Sir Philip Sidney.  The two Philips had been very close – the first earl had even been at the Battle of Zutphen with Sidney when he was killed.  Our Philip had stayed beside Sidney until he died of infection from his wounds, and he had accompanied the body home to England. 
    Philip Marshall had written poetry too – all of those Elizabethan soldier-courtiers seem to have been poets – but Sidney, of course, was the one whose poetry had become a part of our literary heritage.
    The earl was attentive as I told him who was the subject of each of
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