“I’m leaving Brayton Hill,” Mayhew Love announced one night after dinner.
The Braytons, who were seated around the table in various states of contented fullness, all turned to Mayhew in surprise. Carol the maid, who didn’t seem surprised at all, continued clearing the table in her usual crisp manner, the clanging of the dinner plates echoing throughout the room.
It was a moment before anyone spoke. “So you took that commission?” Harry Brayton finally said, leaning back in his chair.
The look of surprise on his wife Arianna’s face deepened into confusion. “What commission?”
“Max De Groff wants me to build a new hotel for him,” said Mayhew, trying hard not to smile. He knew what most people in May Green thought of De Groff. His cousin Arianna happened to be one of those people.
“Max De Groff?” she repeated, her expression reaching new heights of astonishment. “Why would he want to build a new hotel? Isn’t the Granville good enough for him?”
Her cousin laughed. “Arianna, really — you’re starting to sound like that uppity old Mrs. Lloyd.”
Harry made a face. Though he wasn’t blood-related to the Lloyds, his first wife had been, and he had run up against Regina Lloyd’s special brand of snobbery far too often in the last 20 years. “Nonsense,” he said, “Arianna is nothing like Regina.”
“Thank you, Harry,” said Arianna with a grateful nod in his direction. “But that’s not the point,” she continued, turning back to Mayhew. “The point is that we’ll miss you, cousin. Must you really go?”
“I won’t be far away. I’ll be staying at the Granville, you know, until the new hotel is finished. And I’m always welcome for dinner, aren’t I?” Mayhew winked.
“Of course you are,” Arianna said with a quick glance at Carol, who had entered the room with a tray of fruit tarts. â€œAnd now I think I shall retire to my room while you have dessert. I feel exhausted.â€