Authors: Lydia M Sheridan
“Well done, Aunt!” Kate turned back to her aunt to hide her
grin. “But I am surprised you think it’s seemly for her to participate.” She
watched the two girls as they practically skipped back to the village in their
enthusiasm. "She’s seventeen. Not a girl anymore.”
Lady Alice looked troubled. “Believe me, I do not believe
this is in any way seemly. However, it is less appropriate that she is under
the thumb of Mr. Weilmunster. If it takes a public performance to remove his
influence, the price must be paid . And no one shall hear of it outside the village.”
She cleared her throat gently to remind her niece of the social niceties.
Amused at this heretofore unknown manipulative streak in her
aunt, Kate called to Mr. Dalrymple and presented him to Lady Alice, for all the
world as if they were in a London drawing room. He bowed over her aunt’s hand,
agreed that it was indeed a rare coincidence to meet his friend Lady Katherine
again after so many years, and accepted an invitation to call.
“And now,” Lady Alice announced, eyes twinkling, “I had best
visit Lady Malford and volunteer to help with the pageant. I should not like
to be exposed for telling taradiddles. So happy to meet you, Mr. Dalrymple. I
shall see you at home, Katherine.”
Mr. Dalrymple waited until Lady Alice was out of hearing
range. “Do you attend the assembly tonight?” he inquired.
“We’ll meet there.” Mr. Dalrymple took her hand in his.
“Your country will thank you for this.”
Kate wrenched her hand from his. “I need no thanks to help my
country,” she replied icily.
“I didn’t mean--” he began.
“What sort of a person do you think I am?”
“Well--” Mr. Dalrymple tried again.
“Just because I’m a thief doesn’t mean I am without honor!”
“Why didn’t you simply ask for my help from the first?”
Edmund glared at her. The answer, of course, was that he was
new at this espionage lark and it wasn’t proving as easy as he’d imagined.
However, he’d be nibbled to death by ducks before admitting such to her. “It
is standard operating procedure of the War Office,” he lied loftily.
Kate threw him a glance which spoke volumes. She obviously
didn’t believe a word he said.
She handed him his parasol. It was an odd-shaped trifle,
quite heavy and with a large handle. A clumsy object for a dandy of his stripe
to carry, though the lace was exquisite, she thought idly.
“I need time to think.”
"There is a reward of five thousand pounds.”
Kate gripped the headstone to keep from staggering.
“Five thousand pounds?” Her mind reeled as though she’d had
too much wine. Five thousand pounds--it was a fortune.
Edmund nodded, bowed, and strode away. Kate watched as he
paused, unfurled the parasol, and changed his stride to a mince.
Oh, for pity’s sake. What was the government thinking?
Her thoughts whirling, Kate plucked a rose from the bush on the
late Mr. Wallingford’s eternal resting place and mangled the petals absently.
Chief amongst the thoughts chasing each other around her brain was the idea of
a reward. “For it just so happens I know where those counterfeiters might be,”
she bragged to Mr. Wallingford. He, however, was keeping his own counsel, so
Kate strolled out of the graveyard and down the path to the green, scheming
Behind her, the eavesdropper emerged from the concealing
shadow cast by the Wallingford mausoleum and stood, fingering a rosary.
“Do you now, Lady Katherine? What a fragile flower of
saintliness you are, lass. And such a generous soul, to share with the likes