The smile dropped rapidly from James William's face as he drew nearer his father's house. It wasn't the house that was the problem, rather, it was his brother and sisters.
Not that he didn't like them, of course not. His elder brother Edward had been his mentor and companion until Edward went to Cambridge and into the Navy and his eldest sisters Victoria and Helena had made good marriages to kind, not to mention wealthy, men.
It was just Julia that couldn't be trusted.
Julia Williams was nineteen years old, beautiful, accomplished and quiet, she should have been nothing but an asset to her family. But she wasn't. Not even close.
He sneered at the memory of her as the car entered the village.
Julia was far too intelligent for her own good, that was it. Edward had come back from Cambridge with all sorts of curious ideas, and he had filled the head of his doting baby sister with them. And now she too was full of rubbish about equal rights and so on.
Honestly, she was an embarrassment. Over the years since her sixteenth birthday, he had subtly arranged several meetings with various, wealthy and well connected, university and then army friends as potential suitors. Heavily chaperoned by himself or Victoria of course. But that hadn't mattered a bit. She had left them all cold, all on her own.
She spoke her mind too much, he thought. She should be quieter, more accepting. A woman should know her place, of course she should. Mother had, Helena did, Victoria certainly did, being married to the home secretary.
But Julia had spent her most impressionable years with their father and with Edward, and she had never learned that she was not supposed to know about cannon or horses. She had never been told that she was not meant to join in when he and their dinner guests spoke of battle plans or cavalry manoeuvres.
No matter how much Victoria fanned herself and gasped, Helena scowled and James shook his head, Julia carried on regardless.
Upon reflection, he thought, it was a great shame she was a girl. Her ideas were often very good.
He had to admit that neither Edward nor Father was completely blameless. Edward had taught her to analyse the stock market and to understand politics from his newspaper. And his father almost seemed to idolize his 'Clever little girl', and often grew impatient with Helena and Victoria when they refused to give an opinion.
What Edward was thinking, bringing that fool from the navy home to talk to her, he would never know. Julia was bright, certainly, but she was still a woman!
Well, no more of this independence, talking to the common man rubbish, he thought firmly looking at the quietly smoking figure on the other side of the car. Julia needed shaking up! No more running free like a boy, she needed to marry and marry money if possible. Or, just maybe, secure him a promotion. He'd been a lieutenant too long. Yes, he thought, Major O'Connell would knock some sense into his wayward little sister.