Rhodri watched open-mouthed as their visitor swept back through the corridors, followed by an eager murmur of voices as she passed the servants still gathered in the hallway. He could hear Sara replying to their questions in Welsh as she made her way through the front door.
He turned to his father, who was standing as if mesmerised.
“Well? You heard what she said.” Hugh’s eyes were fixed on the door. “You are clearly bringing the Tudor name into disrepute.”
“You didn’t disapprove of my actions before,” Rhodri retorted indignantly. “Are you going to do what a woman tells you?”
“If it is that woman, I am,” his father replied.
His voice was far away, as if he had forgotten Rhodri’s presence.
“I should have listened to her all those years ago, and not my own doubts. I should never have let go of the only woman I ever truly loved.”
Too late he heard the sharp intake of breath, saw hurt flare in his son’s eyes.
But Rhodri had already turned and was striding through the house, his boots clattering on the hallway flags through the house as if the Devil were after him.
Hugh cursed himself for his thoughtlessness and self-absorption. He had never confided his feelings to his son. He had not admitted them to himself. There had seemed little point, when he knew he had forfeited his happiness by his own actions and would never see Sara again.
He had tried his best to push the thought from his mind until that day he had sailed up river on the Daughter Of Conwy and found her again.
The Daughter Of Conwy. Hugh turned to gaze out of the window. In the far distance he could make out the glittering paddles of the Golden Lily as it made its way down river to Conwy Quay. He should follow Rhodri, try to find him and talk to him before he did anything foolish.
But first he would speak to Harris. The man was clearly a menace who had overstepped the mark! Hugh grabbed his hat and stick from where he had flung them on the desk earlier that day.
He would deal with Harris once and for all, then he would find Rhodri and explain. It was time the boy grew up and did something with his life. Learned the true meaning of responsibility.
Hugh shut his eyes. His head was swirling. Whatever Sara said now, love couldn’t die, surely? Not true love. Not the one and only love, born to last a lifetime, that they once had shared.
He knew Sara and her determination better than anyone. She was the one who had done the planning. Who had worked out a way for them to live when he would be cut off without a penny, as he would most surely be.
But he also knew the passionate side of her, the one that was filled with hopes and doubts just as much as the determination to fulfil them.
Hugh squared his shoulders. He once believed he had thrown away his chance of happiness. Now that chance had come again, he was not about to lose it this time. He would find a way to win Sara back, whatever it cost him.
Taking a deep breath, he shot out through the hallway, scattering the maids still deep in gossip and the unexpected signs of life in the customary dullness of Plas Arthur, and out into the sunshine.