Charles had tried his best to act gracious when his mother informed him of the little arrangement for a visit to the Darlings at Rolsten Manor. Of course he remembered the family, but he felt that he hardly knew anything about them. Mother thought this was the perfect opportunity to remedy that particular situation.
On the carriage ride over he busied himself with selecting which of Shakespeare's sonnets he thought Piper would be most interested in. Nevermind that he should have had his mind on what sort of things he would say to please Lady Darling. And nevermind that he wasn't even sure when he would be able to escape to London. But by the time the carriage arrived at its destination, his little sonnet book was littered with thin green ribbons that he'd borrowed from his sister. He tucked the book into an inside pocket of his coat and made his way to the front doors of the manor.
The grounds were lovely, he noted, and the house was beautiful as well. Then, as he was greeted by the butler, he became nervous. His mother had tried to get him interested in suitable matches with perfectly delightful girls before. Several times in recent memory. And every time he'd done his best to keep the girl in question at arms length. Sometimes he was lucky enough that the girl already had her heart set on some other gentleman. He hoped sincerely that Lady Elizabeth Darling was already in love with someone else. For her sake. He wasn't sure how much longer he could insist that no woman he'd been acquainted with yet was the right woman for him.
It seemed that his father at least was under the impression that he held some feelings for Abigail. He doubted his mother felt the same way, or else she wouldn't have arranged for his visit with Lady Elizabeth.