#DailyLines #Book9 #GoTELLTheBEESThatIAmGONE #William

“Don’t be a fool,” he muttered to himself, “You know Papa wouldn’t…” “_Papa_” stuck like a thorn in his throat and he swallowed.

Still, he took his hand off the latch and turned back. He’d wait for a quarter of an hour, he decided. If anything terrible was going to happen, it would likely be quick. He couldn’t linger in the tiny front garden, let alone skulk about beneath the windows. He skirted the yard and went down the side of the house, toward the back.

The back garden was sizable, with a vegetable-patch, dug over for the winter, but still sporting a fringe of cabbages. A small cook-shed stood at the end of the garden, and a pruned-back grape arbor at one side, with a bench inside it. The bench was occupied by Amaranthus, who held little Trevor against her shoulder, patting his back in a business-like way.

“Oh, hullo,” she said, spotting William. “Where’s the other gentleman?”

“Inside,” he said. “Talking to Lord John. I thought I’d just wait for him—but I don’t wish to disturb you.” He made to turn away, but she stopped him, raising her hand for a moment before resuming her patting.

“Sit down,” she said, eyeing him with interest. “So you’re the famous William. Or ought I to call you Ellesmere?”

“Indeed. And no, you oughtn’t.” He sat down cautiously beside her. “How’s the little fellow?”

“Extremely full,” she said, with a small grimace. “Any minute—whoops, there he goes.” Trevor had emitted a loud belch, this accompanied by a spew of watery milk that ran over his mother’s shoulder. Apparently such explosions were common; William saw that she had placed a napkin over her banyan to receive it, though the cloth seemed inadequate to the volume of Trevor’s production.

“Hand me that, will you?” Amaranthus shifted the child expertly from one shoulder to the other and nodded toward another wadded cloth that lay on the ground near her feet. William picked it up gingerly, but it proved to be clean—for the moment.

“Hasn’t he got a nurse?” he asked, handing the cloth over.

“He did have,” Amaranthus said, frowning slightly as she mopped the child’s face. “I sacked her.”

“Drunkenness?” he asked, recalling what Lord John had said about the cook.

“Among other things. Drunk on occasion—too many of them--and dirty in her ways.”

“Dirty as in filth, or…er…lacking fastidiousness in her relations with the opposite sex?”

She laughed, despite the subject.

“Both. Did I not already know you to be Lord John’s son, that question would have made it clear. Or, rather,” she amended, gathering the banyan more closely around her, “the phrasing of it, rather than the question itself. All of the Greys—all those I’ve met so far—talk like that.”

“I’m his lordship’s stepson,” he replied equably. “Any resemblance of speech must therefore be a matter of exposure, rather than inheritance.”

She made a small interested noise and looked at him, one fair brow raised. Her eyes were that changeable color between gray and blue, he saw. Just now, they matched the gray doves embroidered on her yellow banyan.

“That’s possible,” she said. “My father says that a kind of finch learns its songs from its parents; if you take an egg from one nest and put it into another some miles away, the nestling will learn the songs of the new parents, instead of the ones who laid the egg.”

Courteously repressing the desire to ask why anyone should be concerned with finches in any way, he merely nodded.

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