How everything started.
This incident took place at about two o'clock the morning
of September 3, 1809. The location was the back parlor of a
town house owned by the Duke of Buckingham but lived in by
the Earl of Crosshaven on a ninety-nine-year lease,
presently in its twenty-third year. It should be remarked
that Lord Edward Marrack, the younger brother of the
Marquess of Foye, was in attendance that night. Lord Edward
had been something of a rake until his engagement to the
daughter of a longtime family friend. The Earl of
Crosshaven currently was a rake.
Lord Edward Marrack refused more wine when the bottle
came around in his direction. Instead, he leaned against
his chair while his friend the Earl of Crosshaven raised a
hand-Cross was inevitably the center of attention-and said,
with significant stress, the two words, â€śSabine Godard.â€ť
The other men in the room looked impressed. No one,
including Lord Edward, doubted for a moment that Cross had
indeed secured the person of Miss Sabine Godard.
Up to now, the young lady's reputation had been
unassailable. She was an orphan who had been raised by her
uncle since she was quite young. They made their home in
Oxford, the city of spires, Henry Godard having been a don
there and a noted philosopher until his recent retirement
from those hallowed walls. She and her uncle had come to
London so that Godard could receive a knighthood in
recognition of his intellectual contributions to king and
They had not been long in London, the Godards, but
Lord Edward recalled hearing Miss Godard was reckoned a
pretty girl. Very pretty and quite unavailable. She was, if
he had his facts in order, her uncle's permanent caretaker,
as was often the fate of children not raised by their
parents. Her uncle was now Sir Henry Godard. By several
large steps, quite a come up in the world for them both.
The unavailable Miss Godard had been pursued by
Crosshaven. That, too, Lord Edward had heard. The Earl of
Crosshaven was angelically, devilishly, beautiful. His
manners were exquisite and his intellect absolutely first-
rate. Lord Edward would not bother with a friendship if
that were not the case. But Crosshaven, in Lord Edward's
opinion, was not as familiar with discretion as he might
be. Something he was proving tonight.
Though Lord Edward liked Cross exceedingly, this
boast of his was infamous. Ungentlemanly, in fact. That
Cross had refilled his glass far too often in the course of
the evening was no excuse for his revealing to anyone that
he had seduced a young woman of decent family.
And, one presumed, abandoned her to whatever fate her
uncle might decide was fit for a girl who strayed from what
â€śHow was she?â€ť asked one of the other young bucks.
Cross kissed the tips of his fingers and arced his
thus blessed hand toward the ceiling. That engendered
several ribald comments, some having to do with Cross's
prowess in the bedroom and others having to do with Sabine
Godard and what Crosshaven may or may not have taught her
about sexual congress and how to fornicate with elan.
In Lord Edward's opinion, Cross, though just short of
thirty, and for all his lofty titles, had now proved he had
a great deal to learn about honor and decency. This
evening, which had begun as a pleasant interlude with men
he liked, no longer seemed very pleasant.
â€śA seduction,â€ť Lord Edward said to no one in
particular, â€śwhen properly carried out, pleases both
parties for the duration, while a break humiliates no one.â€ť
â€śWho says I've broken with her?â€ť Crosshaven asked.
â€śI do,â€ť he replied. â€śAnd any fool with half a brain.â€ť
Crosshaven shook his head sadly. â€śIs this what
happens to a man when he falls in love? If I didn't know
better, I'd accuse you of not wanting to go to bed with a
pretty young woman.â€ť He winked. â€śWithout benefit of
marriage, I mean.â€ť He gave Lord Edward a sloppy smile, then
looked around the room with his glass held high in a mock
toast. â€śTo Sabine Godard.â€ť
â€śHear, hear,â€ť said a few of the others. Most just
took the opportunity to sample their wine.
Crosshaven took another drink of his hock, but he
kept his eyes on Lord Edward as he did. He'd noticed Lord
Edward hadn't joined in the toast. â€śDon't be such a bloody
bore, Ned,â€ť he said with a roll of his eyes. â€śYou're not
married yet, old man.â€ť
â€śTrue.â€ť But in three months time he would be. God, he
was weary of this, of nights like this spent drinking or
whoring and living as if there weren't something more to be
had from life. He wasn't married yet, but wished Rosaline
was already his wife.
Lord Edward put down his glass and stood. He felt a
giant. With reason. He towered over everyone in the room,
standing or not. â€śGood evening, gentlemen, my lords.â€ť
â€śWhat?â€ť said Cross. He was a bit unsteady on his
feet. â€śAre you leaving already, Ned? It's early yet.â€ť
Lord Edward could not bring himself to smile to
soften his disapproval of his friend's behavior. Nor could
he remain silent. â€śI do not care to hear any lady's
character shredded for the sake of a man's reputation.â€ť
Cross focused on Lord Edward, registered the slight
to his honor, and said, â€śShe's no better than she ought to
â€śTrue,â€ť Lord Edward said. â€śBut the consequences of
indiscretion always fall hardest on the woman. Tonight, you
are lauded for your seduction of the girl, deemed ever more
manly. Your reputation as a cocksman is firmly established.â€ť
Crosshaven bowed amid a few catcalls. He
straightened, grinning. Lord Edward was probably the only
one in the room who wasn't grinning back.
â€śWhat reason had you to re-prove tha1t fact at the
cost of her reputation? No one disputes your appeal to the
fairer sex.â€ť Lord Edward sighed. There was no point in
lecturing Cross. No point at all. â€śTomorrow,â€ť he said with
regret soft in his voice, â€śMiss Godard will not find the
world so pleasant a place. That is a fate you ought to have
avoided for the girl.â€ť
â€śShe's still no better than she ought to be, Ned.â€ť He
pretended to sober up, but as a drunk would do.
Sloppily. â€śI mean no disrespect, Lord Edward. But it's true
about the girl. No better than she ought to be.â€ť
He acknowledged Cross with a nod, without smiling
because he was disappointed in his friend, â€śNor are you.â€ť
As he walked out, Lord Edward thought it was a very
great pity that Miss Godard was so thoroughly ruined.
Beyond repair. Crosshaven's boast of her would be
everywhere by noon tomorrow. He did not know the girl
personally but did not like to think of the disgrace that
was soon to fall on her and her uncle. They would both be
touched by Crosshaven's indiscretion.
He thought it likely the newly knighted Sir Henry
Godard would put her onto the street.
One year and nine months later, give or take a few days.
May 5, 1811. The former Lord Edward Marrack was now the
Marquess of Foye and a guest at the palace of an English
merchant in BĂĽyĂĽkdere, Turkey, about twelve miles outside
Constantinople. Europeans were not permitted to live in the
city, and BĂĽyĂĽkdere was a favorite summer residence for ex-
patriots from any number of countries. Including England. A
good deal of the diplomatic corps resided in BĂĽyĂĽkdere,
which overlooked the blue, blue waters of the Bosporus.
The finest woman here tonight was Miss Sabine Godard.
How strange that he should cross paths with Miss
Godard so many thousands of miles from home. Foye wasn't
surprised to find she was a lovely woman.
If Crosshaven had noticed her, and, quite infamously,
he had, it stood to reason she would have something. She
Foye sat on a chair not so far from the center of the
assembly that he would be thought aloof, though he'd been
accused of that and worse since he'd begun his tour of
countries that had the single advantage of being far from
England. He was not by nature a gregarious man and was even
less so now, or so he'd been told by people who had known
him before. True enough. For the second time in his life,
he was a changed man. What a pity he didn't like the change.
Now that he saw her before him, he understood why so
many men had spoken of her looks or why Crosshaven had
chosen her; it wasn't so much that she was beautiful. She
wasn't quite that. A man didn't catch his breath at the
sight of her. She was not a very tall woman, though from
what he could see of her, her figure was a nice one. He
stared at her, trying to pin down for himself the reason
that she was a more attractive woman than she ought to be.
Her features were too strong for beauty in the
classic sense, though anyone meeting her for the first time
would think her pretty. She smiled often, and he'd watched
several men stare, besotted, when her mouth curved a
certain way. Her hair was an astonishing shade of gold.
Curls at her temples and brow gave her an air of sweetness
without being cloying, and there weren't many pretty young
women who could manage that. A lace cap was on her head, a
jade green ribbon threaded through the material. She wasn't
beautiful, no, not that, but she was pretty. Exceptionally
She had something else as well, and he was determined
to put a name to whatever elusive quality that was. What a
shame Crosshaven had ruined everything for her. She might
have done well for herself, had she stayed in London. There
were any number of pretty young girls who'd married up.
Some decent young man would likely have thought himself
lucky to marry a woman like her. Foye couldn't help feeling
at least partially responsible for the fact that she hadn't.
At the moment, Miss Godard was sitting at a table
surrounded by men in uniform; sailors, soldiers of the
Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, or otherwise attached to
the military here in BĂĽyĂĽkdere. She was reading tea leaves
for them and having a grand time, too. Despite her smiles,
and despite the men gathered around her, she appeared
unaware of the flirtatious looks and remarks sent her way,
but not, he thought, unaware of her looks.
Miss Godard knew very well that men found her
attractive, Foye decided. But she was not a flirt.
Her uncle, Sir Henry Godard, sat close enough to her
that she could easily lean over and touch his arm should
she care to. Sir Henry was deep in conversation with one of
the merchants who worked for the Levant Company. The topic
at hand, from what Foye could overhear, was the merits and
demerits of St. Augustine. A heady subject for afternoon
So far, Sir Henry had the advantage in the argument.
He was a wily debater. Leading his prey to make admissions
that seemed reasonable enough while in reality he was
laying a trap such that when it sprang his victim would
have no choice but to cede Sir Henry's entire point.
Experience had etched deep lines in Sir Henry's face
and yet had taken a disproportionate physical toll on the
rest of his body. His upper back was hunched, throwing his
leonine head forward. His hair was that off shade of white,
a yellowish silver, common to men who'd been blond
throughout their adult lives. Notwithstanding the
depredations of age and illness, Sir Henry was a man of
considerable presence. His profession remained in his
manner of speech, his temperament, and even his gestures.
It was easy to imagine him addressing a lecture hall of
young men and terrifying them into listening at peril of
their very survival.
The salon was filled with guests holding teacups and
guarding plates of cakes, biscuits, and sugar wafers. There
were tables piled with watermelon and bowls of sherbet in
silver cups with delicate silver spoons. The merchant whose
palace this was, Mr. Anthony Lucey, had invited only
Englishmen and women this afternoon, though naturally men
outnumbered the women, who were, for the most part, wives
or other relatives of the soldiers. Some of the men were
longtime employees of the Levant Company who had raised
families here. A pretty English girl wasn't unheard of in
BĂĽyĂĽkdere. Not by any means.
Lucey himself, a longtime friend of Foye's late
father, stood in the center of the room telling a story
Foye had heard before about the time he'd got lost in
Mayfair and had mistakenly knocked on the Duke of
Portland's private door. Lucey was such an excellent
raconteur the tale still amused more than forty years after
it had happened.
He was beginning to think, though, that he ought to
go get himself introduced to Miss Godard. Just to see what
she was like. Naturally, he was curious. And since he was
here, if the circumstances offered, he might explain what
Foye resisted the urge to smooth down his hair. There
really was no dealing with his curls. They were contrary by
innate disposition, it seemed. A good match for his face,
which was one of the reasons he'd let his hair grow and
never cut it short again. With a face that defined â€śill
madeâ€ť and a body that tended to intimidate by sheer size-he
had always been prone to muscle-Foye was used to women
looking past him or away from him. Though since he'd become
Foye, that happened marginally less often.
He plucked a crisp sugar wafer from his plate and
took a bite. A touch of almond, he thought, and he had a
taste of bliss melting over his tongue. Lucey's cook was
superb, a Neopolitan man he'd succeeded in hiring away from
the Italian ambassador's residence. The story of Lucey's
raid on the Italian kitchen was amusing, too. Foye took
another bite of his wafer and savored it while he watched
yet another lovesick young officer beg to have his fortune
told by Miss Godard.
Perhaps, he thought, it was something about the way
she looked at a man. Yes. Something about her eyes. And her
complete disinterest. What bold young man didn't want the
very woman who wouldn't have him? Given all that he and
Miss Godard had in common, he ought to at least meet her.
It was, however, quite plain to him that to get anywhere
with the niece one must start with the uncle.
When Foye was done eating, he asked Lucey for an
introduction to Sir Henry.
The old man was formidable, that had been apparent
even from a distance. Closer up, he seemed no less so for
all that his frailness was the more evident. He had, Foye
recalled, read one of Sir Henry's treatises, the 1805 On
When Lucey walked him over to the philosopher, Foye
was speared by a pair of iron gray eyes that would have
been at home in a man forty years his junior, they were
that bright and perceptive. He did not believe it was an
accident that he should think back on his university days
with some sense of dread. This man would have had no
compunction whatever about sending a prince packing for
want of preparation. No more a mere second son-all that
Foye had been in those days.
Foye bowed when Lucey completed the introduction.
Already the object of much curiosity on account of his
appearance, more stares came his way when his titles were
pronounced. Lucey, unfortunately, knew the entire list.
Marquess of Foye. Earls of Eidenderry and DeMortmercy. He
was used to them now, at last accustomed to the change in
his identity from Lord Edward to Foye. There were days now
when he could hardly recall a time when he hadn't been
Foye. His first titled ancestor had been ennobled before
the reign of Charlemagne. The Marracks of Cornwall had
never been viscounts. Their nobility had begun with an
It was with him that the Marrack line would end. With
the death of his brother without any living children, he
was the last of the Marrack men. When he died, his
properties and titles would revert to the crown. What a
failure to take to his grave, to leave no one to carry on
â€śWell, well, young man,â€ť Sir Henry said, laboriously
craning his neck sideways to look at him. â€śThat is a
mouthful of names.â€ť
Foye smiled despite himself. He had not been called a
young man for a good many years. It wasn't as though he was
old, but at thirty-eight, he wasn't a boy anymore. Godard
held out a gnarled hand for Foye to take, which he did,
gently. The philosopher was crippled with the gout, and his
skin was hot to the touch.
â€śYes, Sir Henry, it is, indeed, a mouthful â€ś He
smiled, aware of Miss Godard's attention to their exchange.
Would he tell her, if the opportunity arose? He ought to
but didn't know if he would. She seemed to have made a life
for herself here, far from England. Why bring up what could
only be painful memories for her? Because, Foye thought, if
he were her, he'd want to know the truth. â€śI hope you were
not bored listening to all that.â€ť
â€śNot at all.â€ť Sir Henry bobbed his head. â€śI am
pleased to make your acquaintance, my Lord Foye.â€ť
â€śThe pleasure is mine, Sir Henry.â€ť Foye was aware
that Miss Godard had stopped her inspection of someone's
teacup-what nonsense that business was-to listen to the
Did she recognize his name from his connection with
Crosshaven? Perhaps she did not know he and Cross had been
friends and that Foye knew what had been done to her. Or
perhaps she did, and now wondered if her reputation was to
be ruined again by someone else who knew only the lies.
â€śFoye. Foye,â€ť Sir Henry said, tapping his chin with a
finger permanently hooked into a claw. He narrowed his eyes
and gave him a sideways look. â€śA King's College man,
Foye bowed. For a split second, he racked his brain
for the essay he must have failed to write. â€śYes, sir.â€ť
â€śYour elder brother, too, if I'm not mistaken.â€ť
â€śYou are not.â€ť
â€śI thought so.â€ť Sir Henry grinned and nodded. â€śYou
were Lord Edward then, not Foye. That's why I didn't know
who you were until you were close enough for me to see
you.â€ť He pulled at a blanket spread over his lap. â€śTook a
first in maths, didn't you?â€ť
â€śI'm astonished you should know such a thing.â€ť It was
at university that Foye had learned there were women who
cared more for what he offered when they were intimate than
what he looked like in broad daylight. He'd also discovered
he had a talent for pleasing his partners. He'd made
himself an assiduous student of the delights to be had
between a man and woman. Well. No more of that for him.
Those days were long gone. He was done with that life.
Godard waved a misshapen hand. â€śI made it a point to
acquaint myself with the names of all the young men of
promise. If we were at home, I would send Sabine to find my
entry on you.â€ť He smiled, and the effect was
disconcertingly sly. His niece looked in their direction at
the mention of her name. â€śI kept a ledger, my lord. I
followed you in Parliament, you know. Heard your maiden
speech. I am rarely wrong in my predictions.â€ť
â€śAm I to be flattered by that?â€ť Foye asked. He did
not look at Miss Godard, though he burned to do so.
â€śI should think so. I saw you once or twice at
university.â€ť He chuckled. â€śNo mistaking you for anyone
He smiled again. â€śNo, sir.â€ť
â€śI should think you learned early on it's better to
have something hereâ€ť-he tapped his temple-â€śthan to have a
handsome face. Too many young men these days spend hours
primping at the mirror when they would profit more from
improving their minds.â€ť
â€śGodard,â€ť his niece murmured. She put an arm on her
uncle's sleeve in a gesture familiar enough to be habitual.
Foye could easily imagine her needing to restrain her
uncle's bluntness. For all Sir Henry's rudeness, he rather
liked the man for it. He wasn't a pretty man, after all.
â€śWhat?â€ť Sir Henry said, turning his torso toward his
niece. â€śWith a face like his, do you think he bothers much
with enriching his tailor over his bookseller?â€ť
â€śI think Lord Foye is very smartly dressed,â€ť she said.
â€śThank you,â€ť Foye said. In point of fact, he was vain
of his appearance. Even as Lord Edward, he had never walked
out of his house without clothes that made other men beg
him for the name of his tailor.
â€śLook at him.â€ť One thin arm shot into the air. â€śDo
you think he spent his time at King's with his mistresses
instead of in the library?â€ť
Good God. Foye held back his shock at Sir Henry's
speech. Miss Godard, too, felt the indiscretion, for her
cheeks pinked up. Sir Henry didn't seem to think anything
of his declaration.
â€śGodard.â€ť She slid a glance at Foye, and their eyes
met. Hers were brown. There was nothing extraordinary about
her eyes, but for the intelligence there. She was no
ordinary girl, he thought. â€śForgive him,â€ť she murmured.
â€śFor what?â€ť Foye said. â€śIt's true. I am no model of
masculine beauty. I am not offended by Sir Henry pointing
that out.â€ť Age had its privileges, after all, and Sir Henry
had to be nearer seventy than sixty. He had decided to be
amused. There was brilliance yet in the old man.
â€śSensible of you, my boy.â€ť
Foye nodded to Sir Henry, but he was absorbed by Miss
Godard. She was a far more interesting woman than he'd
expected. All this time, whenever he thought of Crosshaven
and what he'd done that night, he'd been imagining a sweet
young woman, weeping for her lost reputation. NaĂŻve and
mourning the infamous wrong done her. Miss Godard was
â€śHave you been in Anatolia long, my lord?â€ť Sir Henry
â€śNo,â€ť Foye replied.
Miss Godard was now indisputably a part of their
conversation. He could not help but look at her. Her eyes
were not a common brown after all, but something a more
poetic man might call dark honey. From the shape of her
mouth, the tilt of her eyes with their thick, dark lashes,
to the sweeping line of her throat to her shoulders, she
was the sort of woman who made a man think of darkened
rooms and whispered endearments. He understood very well
why Crosshaven had chosen her.
â€śI arrived in Constantinople yesterday,â€ť Foye said to
Sir Henry. â€śAnd you?â€ť
Sir Henry folded his crippled hands on his lap. â€śWe
have been in BĂĽyĂĽkdere coming onto a month. Is that
She answered without hesitation. â€śIn Anatolia, forty-
three days. In BĂĽyĂĽkdere, twenty-one, Uncle.â€ť
Again, Foye felt his understanding of Miss Godard to
be maddeningly incomplete. Not a woman wronged and mourning
her fate. Not a pretty girl who knew and used the power her
looks gave her over a man. And to speak so crisply, with
such unhesitating precision. He preferred it when the
people he met fell into neat categories. Irascible old man.
A young woman wronged. Foye did not yet know where to fit
â€śTwenty-one days, my lord,â€ť Sir Henry told him with a
smile that conveyed his pride in the precision of his
The naval officer whose tea leaves she'd been reading
bid Miss Godard adieu. She nodded, said good-bye, and
though the officer waited for her to say something more,
she didn't. For the moment, her table was empty of a
companion, yet all the other men who had been waiting for
their chance found themselves dismissed without a word.
â€śYou have an able assistant, sir.â€ť There was an
awkward silence during which Foye expected to be introduced
and was not. He cleared his throat and returned a bit of
the older man's directness. â€śMay I meet your niece, Sir
â€śWhat for?â€ť Sir Henry's eyes scalded. Foye could only
thank the Lord he'd never been in one of Sir Henry's
lectures when he was at Oxford. He would have quailed under
that gimlet eye. Because, in truth, he had spent more time
with his various mistresses than with his studies.
â€śGodard,â€ť Miss Godard said, firmly this time.
Sir Henry tipped his head toward her. â€śVery well. I
suppose there's no hope for it. Sabine, will you meet the
Marquess of Foye?â€ť
She stood to curtsey but did not extend a hand to him
over the very small table at which she sat. He bowed in
return. â€śDelighted to make your acquaintance, my lord.â€ť
â€śMy niece, sir. Miss Sabine Godard.â€ť
â€śMiss Godard.â€ť He was aware he was staring too hard.
She was still so very young. He doubted she was much beyond
twenty. Crosshaven ought to rot in hell for what he'd done
to the girl.
She cocked her head at him, and at that moment he
would have given anything to know what she was thinking.
â€śWould you read my future?â€ť he asked.
Sir Henry snorted. â€śIt's nonsense, my lord,â€ť he
said. â€śShe knows that, too.â€ť
Miss Godard's gaze flicked to her uncle; she remained
unruffled. â€śIf he is on your list of men who will make
something of themselves, Godard, I daresay he is well aware
my tea reading is a nothing more than an amusing way to
pass the time.â€ť She turned to him. â€śMy lord, have you a cup
you've been drinking? If not, you'll need fresh.â€ť
He pointed in the direction of the table on which
he'd set his tea. â€śThere.â€ť
â€śThat should do.â€ť She smiled at him, but with no
particular interest in him beyond what was polite and no
indication that she cared anything for his title or his
consequence. Or his lack of beauty, for that matter. How
egalitarian of her. â€śI'll wait, my lord.â€ť
He returned with his nearly empty cup and sat on the
chair opposite her. His legs were too long to fit
underneath the table, leaving him no choice but to sit
sideways or remain as he was with his thighs wide open. He
turned on the chair. Miss Godard took his cup and looked
into it. â€śCan you bear to drink another mouthful or two?â€ť
He nodded. He would tell her, he decided. He would
tell her about Crosshaven and then apologize for his role
in her ruin, limited as it had been. He took back his cup,
drank it nearly empty, and extended it to her.
â€śNo,â€ť she said, refusing his cup. â€śHold it just so
and swirl the contents thus.â€ť She demonstrated the desired
motion with her arm.
â€śNonsense, all of it,â€ť Sir Henry said.
â€śYes, Godard,â€ť she said without looking at her uncle.
But he saw a smile lurking on her mouth. â€śExcellent. Now
upend your cup on the saucer.â€ť
â€śShall I first cross your palms with silver?â€ť Foye
â€śCertainly not.â€ť Her eyes, her very fine eyes,
flashed with humor. There was more to Miss Godard than she
meant to let on, he realized. â€śIf I allowed you to pay me
in order to learn your future, my ability to accurately
assess what tomorrow and beyond may hold for you would be
â€śConsider the offer rescinded, miss.â€ť
Her mouth quirked. â€śAnyone who takes filthy lucre is
no better than a rank charlatan.â€ť
Obediently, he swirled his cup and did as directed,
upending the cup over the saucer. Though he did not like to
admit it, she interested him. What was she? What had she
become since Crosshaven? â€śAnd you, being above
remuneration, are no charlatan, I presume?â€ť
Her smile became a direct and knowing connection with
his gaze. â€śI am the worst charlatan in Christendom if you
believe a word I say, my lord.â€ť She righted his tea and
stared into it. â€śThis is utter nonsense, as you well know.â€ť
â€śMy future?â€ť He sighed. â€śI feared as much.â€ť
Miss Godard laughed softly. â€śDivination, my lord. As
much as I admire the great civilizations of the past, I
have concluded there is a reason men of modern learning do
not maintain a belief in the ancient ways. Just as there
were no gods on Mount Olympus, there is no magic by which
one can infer the future from random patterns made in tea
leaves.â€ť She quirked her eyebrows at him. â€śOr the entrails
of a goat, for that matter.â€ť
He very nearly laughed. Nearly. My God, she was quick-
witted and not afraid to show him. â€śNevertheless, thisâ€ť-he
indicated the teacup-â€śis, as you say, quite a charming
pastime for a lady to have.â€ť
â€śThank you.â€ť She raised her voice. â€śYou see, Godard,
that I am vindicated by Lord Foye.â€ť
â€śWhat's that?â€ť Sir Henry said.
â€śThe marquess finds the reading of tea leaves to be
an amusing occupation.â€ť She spoke so drolly and with such
affection for her uncle that Foye was hard-pressed not to
grin. Miss Godard handled her irascible uncle quite well.
â€śMore the fool he,â€ť Sir Henry said.
Miss Godard lifted a hand and pressed the other to
her upper bosom. â€śA moment of silence while I read the
portents, my lord.â€ť
She could have been an actress, the gesture and tone
of voice were so perfectly done. No wonder the officers
vied for her attention. For one thing, she was miserly with
it, and when she did look at you directly, there was so
much there to see in her eyes, a man could not be faulted
for wanting more. He leaned his side against his chair, his
elbow over the back, and stretched out one leg while he
watched her. â€śI believe,â€ť he said in a low voice, â€śthat we
have a mutual acquaintance.â€ť
Without taking her eyes from his cup, she replied in
a soft voice, â€śNot a mutual friend, I am afraid. Unless you
mean someone besides the Earl of Crosshaven.â€ť
â€śI do not.â€ť
Her expression closed off. â€śYou have a bouquet of
flowers, here.â€ť She pointed to a mass of leaves. â€śThat
signifies you are to be happy in love.â€ť
â€śI was,â€ť he said. â€śOnce. But no longer.â€ť
She looked at him. â€śI am not reading your past, my
lord, but your future.â€ť
â€śHappy in love?â€ť he said, looking into her eyes. â€śI
fear that is quite impossible.â€ť
â€śThe tea leaves never lie,â€ť she replied.
He wriggled his fingers over his cup. â€śPray continue.â€ť