“Do you know why I am going to kill you?”
The Prince Regent was foxed. He knew he was foxed. He was pretty sure that someone had just threatened him, but here was the Duke of Foxmoor on his right, and Warthington on his left, and there was the young man with the gun in front of him…oh. Hmm.
He should have stuck to port. He wouldn’t have been nearly so badly off with port. But that odious little Marquis from…where was he from? Somewhere out in the unfashionable end of Yorkshire…had brought in a bottle of some vile Greek concoction called “oozey” or “ohzey” or something, and now the world was spinning gently, and also there was a young fellow pointing a gun at him.
“Eh?” said the Regent.
“I say,” said Foxmoor, “that’s quite a neckcloth you’ve got, lad. Oriental, is it?”
“You’re foxed. It’s a Mathematical,” said Warthington. “Never could tie them, myself.”
It was a very good neckcloth. It hung in immaculately crisp folds, despite the bit where its owner had climbed in through a second story window, crouched on top of a mother-of-pearl inlaid armoire for two hours, and then leapt to the ground and brandished a pistol at the Prince Regent.
“Do you know why I am going to kill you?” demanded the young man again, his hand shaking slightly, which imparted an alarming wobble to the end of the gun.
“Says he’s going to kill you, Prinny,” said the Duke of Foxmoor helpfully.
“Ah, you’re foxed,” said Warthington again. “Why would anybody want to kill Prinny?”
There was a brief, awkward silence. Even drunk, the Prince Regent could think of at least a half-dozen reasons, and it was clear from his expression that Foxmoor could think of a couple more. Guards, thought the Regent gloomily, why were there no guards? Always around when you wanted a moment of privacy, and never when somebody was trying to kill you. Also, he had an itch up under his corset, where there was no possibility of scratching it. What an awful evening.
“Do you know who my father is?” asked the young man.
“It isn’t me, is it?” asked the Regent anxiously. The young fellow looked to be about seventeen, and Lord knows, seventeen years ago he’d had a lot more energy for chasing petticoats than he did now. “Because I tried my best to provide for all my by-blows, I’m sure I did, but some of the chambermaids…” He stopped. The young man had turned an alarming shade of red, apparently from rage.
“Ah, chambermaids,” said Foxmoor nostalgically. Seventeen years ago, he’d had a lot more energy too. “Parlor maids, too.”
“Milkmaids…” said Warthington.
Foxmoor peered around the tightly corseted bulk of the Prince Regent. “Milkmaids?”
“There was one on m’father’s estate,” said Warthington, with a vague, sappy expression. “Molly her name was. She had the most wonderful—”
“I say, Warthington, there’s a child present!”
“Giggle,” said Warthington stiffly.”She had a perfectly marvelous giggle.”
“I am not a child!” snarled the young man with the gun. “And I am certainly no child of yours, you revolting hulk!”
The Prince Regent lifted a eyebrow. He knew he’d put on a few pounds, certainly, although the corset and the ruffs did hide a multitude of sins, but he was still the nominal ruler of England, and no amount of artillery gave anyone the right to speak to him like that.
“Giggle?” asked Foxmoor, who was clearly lagging behind the conversation a ways. “Never thought the giggle was the most attractive part of a female, old fellow.”
“You hadn’t heard Molly’s, then.”
“Enough about milkmaids!” the young man practically screamed. “I am the son of Brummell!”
Three sets of eyes riveted on him immediately.
“Brummell?” said the Regent.
“Beau Brummell?” said Foxmoor.
“The Beau Brummell?” said Warthington.
“The very same!” snarled the young man. “Because of you, he was forced to flee to the Continent! Because of you, he is living nearly penniless, unable to afford new waistcoats! Do you know what a blow that is to a man like him?”
“Shocking!” murmured Foxmoor.
“Indeed!” Their assailant forgot himself so far as to wave the pistol for emphasis. “Last year’s fashions! He dare not show his face!”
“Not that,” said Foxmoor. “Lots of people completely done up. It happens. It’s just…Brummell? Really?”
“Never thought he was one for the petticoat line,” mused the Prince Regent.
“Not to say he was one for the lads, either,” said Warthington. And when both Prinny and Foxmoor stared at him, “What? He wasn’t.”
“No,” Prinny admitted, “he wasn’t. Said to me once that the whole thing was too much like riding to hounds—lot of exertion and bother and trouble keeping your boots clean.”
“Always had very clean boots, that fellow,” Foxmoor allowed. They looked back to the gunman.
“He was my father!” the young man said angrily. “My mother said so!”
The three of them studied him with interest. He turned red again.
“Well, he’s got Brummell’s way with a neckcloth…” Warthington allowed.
“Doesn’t look much like him, though,” the Prince Regent said. He squinted, trying to bring the youth into better focus. “Mm. And are those canary inexpressibles with a biscuit coat?”
“Beau wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing canary,” Foxmoor said. “Would have had the most shocking set-down for anyone who did. Recall I once wore the most elegant patterned green waistcoat, and the things he said to me! ‘Foxmoor,’ he said ‘are you hunting ducks?’ ‘No,’ I said, and he said—”
“Just impossible to imagine Brummell doing anything you couldn’t get dressed up for,” mused Warthington.
“–he said, ‘Why are you wearing that duck blind around your waist, then?’” Foxmoor concluded triumphantly.”I took it home and had m’valet burn it, of course. Still regret it.” He sighed. “Not that it’d fit me now anyway…”
“I am!” cried the young man passionately. “I am!”
“Do you have any proof?” asked the Regent kindly. “Not that I’m accusing your sainted mother of lying, but we knew Brummell, you see, and if you had something…a signet ring, perhaps…a love letter…something?”
“Can’t imagine the Beau writing love letters,” said Foxmoor. “Unless it was to his valet.” Warthington snickered.
The young man fell back a step and lowered the gun. “I—I have to go. But I’ll be back! You’ll see!” He turned and dashed toward the wall, launched himself off a wingback chair to the top of the armoire, and was out the window before anyone could move to stop him (although it must be said that none of them tried, and in fact Warthington was only standing upright by leaning heavily on the Regent’s arm.)
“Well,” said Prinny. He supposed he should send for the guards to try to arrest the boy, but it seemed like a lot of effort. All he wanted was for his valet to unlace his corset and then he could have a good scratch.
“Seemed a likely lad,” said Warthington. “Wonder who his father was?”
“Doubt it was Brummell.”
This is probably of no interest to anyone, but I’ve been reading too much Heyer lately, and I attempted to convince my buddy Deb that her next book should involve the illegitimate son of Beau Brummell. When she pointed out that he was apparently completely uninterested in either sex, the following scene sort of spilled out. Odds are good I will never write a Regency, as much as the notion amuses me, but you never know, although I would rapidly get bored and have ninjas abduct the heroine, and that would be awkward and probably not historically accurate.