Lord Ynyr is in many ways Kenrick’s opposite. He is handsome, his good looks striking. They so impress Sophie that she is puzzled as to why she isn’t more thrilled by him.
He’s humane, particularly by the standards of the time, when many landowners refused to see the suffering of their poorer tenants and the peasants generally on the grounds that it was the established order of things, laid down by divine power, and not to be challenged.
He is very fond of all his relatives – especially of his cousin on his father’s side, the glamorous Morwenna, whom he has admired since childhood.
He is nearly as fond of the rascally Émile, and is so outraged at Lord Dale’s allegation that ‘He and that man of his are highwaymen, sure as fire’ that the generally pacific Count is prepared to call him out.
He deals with his mother’s constant complaints – about the general difficulties of life and the number of babies born in the village, with endless patience.
Perhaps he doesn’t listen. Perhaps, though, that is why when John de Courcy writes to him asking him if he can offer a place to Sophie in his household, that is one of the reasons why he is eager to accept.
Whatever the reason, the new Count and the Dowager Countess (she isn’t strictly a dowager, as her son hasn’t yet remarried; but she feels her mourning for ‘The Dear Late Count’ is such that she would lke to be addressed as such) are very kind to Sophie, giving her a luxurious set of rooms and a lady’s maid of her own, the irrepressible Agnes.
Lord Ynyr’s torn. He’s so good natured that inevitably he must obligingly fall a little in love with the two girls who have most opportunity to work on his susceptabilities – Morwenna and Sophie, but not naturally decisive, and unwilling to hurt either as he is, he is completely unable to choose between them. Morwenna is Junoesque, witty, his social equal and his childhood sweetheart. Miss Sophie is sweet natured as she cheerfully remedies the Sad Tangles in the Dowager Countess’ embroidary/sewing/crotchet or tapestry work, but she is is his Poor Relative. To marry such a person would be to let down the family name.
Though this Renior painting is of a much later
date than the time of my book, this is something
The Count dithers between his feelings for both girls, until his rougish cousin comes to stay at Plas Uchaf, and takes the matter out of his hands.
Lord Ynyr is disgusted by Kenrick, though obliged to remain civil to a neighbour. He considers that he – with his wild talk of the legends of Eastern Europe and his boasting of having, though an application of the principles of mathematics to the practices of the occult found a mode of travel through time – must be a little mad.
It is typical of Lord Ynyr that he should continue the late Count’s work upon patenting medicines through the refinement of beneficial herbs, and as he and Émile work on this at Plas Uchaf, while outside the wind buffets the mountainside and hurls sleet at the windowpanes, he chats of Kenrick with Émile.
They had an unpleasant discussion with him recently…
‘He has some singular party tricks, Ynyr. When he fixed his glassy eyes upon me, Devil take me if I didn’t feel as if I must pull my own away, or it would be the worst for me…”
Lord Ynyr’s cousin breaks off to stare outside at Miss Sophie, huddled in her winter cloak and hood, off to gather objects for the centrepiece on the dining table. Lord Ynyr confides what a charming girl he finds her, and what a pity it is that she is not his social equal. He wonders why the rogue seems so taciturn, but then his coldness generally towards such a pretty girl is a puzzle.
Lord Ynyr is sure it isn’t snobbery – he’s shocked by Émile’s liberal views and the familiarity he allows from his servants – and assumes it is because he doesn’t want to be tempted into compromising his Aunt’s innocent companion.
That is typical of Émile; he is so much better than people generally think him. That dreadful back-biting rumour doing the rounds of the clubs, that he and his insolent valet were actually highwaymen…How laughable.