Griggs was hanged for murder. Her lodger, Mr. Anglesey, was found strangled,
sitting bolt upright at the breakfast table, the ashes of what appeared
to have once been a cigar in his scorched hand. He had been dead several
months. Sir Jonathan Carter, Gentleman of the Kings Bedchamber,
had the unpleasant task of testifying at her trial.
Baron Tattson still labors in his laboratory with young James, more
a colleague than a servant now, ever at his side. They are close to
perfecting a vaccine against the contagion, and though that will not
save the millions already infected, at least it promises hope for the
future. Tonight, before you sleep, pray for their success.
There was no such hope, alas, for the Prince. Upon hearing of Bradleys
death, he ordered the crew of the yacht ashore and managed to maneuver
the ship out to sea with only himself on board. The Britannia was last
seen heading south, with flames shooting up its mainsail, and a cloud
of smoke shrouding its mast.
MacIntyres book was brought out by his widow. Critics dismissed
the efforts old-fashioned style, its genteel phrasing and arcane
diction. While his later work was not well-received, one
eulogy stated, he remained a much sought-after and cherished guest
to an ever-widening circle of admirers. The rumored circumstances
surrounding the authors death, I might take this opportunity to
add, have been greatly exaggerated.
On an early spring morning, in the north of England, one year to the
day from the time our tale began, Phineas Hardheart attended the auction
at which the contents of Choir Castle were sold off. There being no
legitimate descendant to the late Earl, the title had been declared
extinct, and creditors left to pick over the remains.
There was precious little for those owed money to seize, though. Hardheart,
moved (by cheap sentiment, he scolded himself, but moved nonetheless),
paid six shillings for a well worn riding crop. Carrying off his purchase,
he gave one last look over the crumbling expanse of the castle and its
surrounding, still brown, unforthcoming land. For this, there had been
no buyers. The place would be subdivided, no doubt. The age of the great
houses was passing, had passed. He noted a familiar figure, the profile
of Hepzibah Schlierbeck, looking out of place in her elegant black dress
and city shoes, standing with a lean old man whose hair was lifted by
the bitter wind as he too surveyed the landscape. The moneylenderess
recognized Hardheart, and walked over to greet him.
I fear you made a bad investment, Madame Schlierbeck, he
said. Are you one of the creditors?
No, she smiled. I just settled with the estate. And
it is Miss Schlierbeck, if you please.
I beg your pardon. You say you settled?
Yes. I dropped my claims and received the Earls box, in
At Royal Ascot. Now that the prohibitions against my people have
been lifted, I can go where I want. I am right next to where the new
Ah, you enjoy horse racing, then?
Horse racing? she frowned, Is that what they do there?
Returning to her father, Hepzibah made a mental note to study up on
the subject, so as to better engage the King in conversation. He was
very good-looking, a bachelor, remarkably free of prejudice, and just
a little younger than herself, no doubt in need of a helping hand, what
with all the difficulties he faced. Walking over the muddy field, she
stared up into the new sun, and adopted a regal bearing.
novel is dedicated to David Rayfiel.