“The hoofs made a soft thunder in the snow, skipping down the hill and cross the bridge. He was late, surely throwing his mother into a panic over his safety given the state of the weather. He grimaced to himself, allowing his mare a slower climb up the hill.
Pulling his heat further down to shield his eyes, he thought of the warm fire and brandy waiting for him. Hopefully a bite of food, as well. The ride from London had been long and cold, indeed. If not for the summons from his mother, Hathesby might have stayed.
Yet, despite the journey, he was glad of an easy escape from London. The diversions of town and the Little Season had somehow become weary and droll. The gaming hells held little attraction, he was never much for whores or mistresses, and there was little else to do when Parliament was not in session. His friends had all married within the last several years and were busy birthing heirs and settling down. Many a time, he felt like the oldest bachelor in Whites. What may have been a distinction for another man was a rather lonely crown to wear for Hathesby.
He was at the top when very suddenly he brought his horse to a stop with a slow whistle. There on the ground lay a bundle of wool. He quickly dismounted, his eyebrow quirked in curiousity.
At closer look he could see the bundle was a girl, maybe a child, who was frozen to the spot. She might be dead.
“Bloody hell,” he muttered, and then pulled off his glove to touch her neck. A weak pulse still beat there, but he knew instantly that it was only a matter of time.
Without thinking, Hathesby reached down and scooped the bundle in his arms, taking with him the cloak that had been laid against the snow.
Grateful the girl weighed no more than a feather, he hoisted her limp body onto his saddle, and then deftly climbed and sat himself behind her. Struggling against the cold, he moved her so that she was pressed tight against him. He prayed his warmth might be transferred to her, even through her sodden clothes.
Once sure she was secure, he kicked his heels into his mare, silently praying that he could save this fragile life. It was only a half hour ride to his family estate, and he hoped she would survive it. Lord only knew he could use a good deed in his favor”