Beast

Beast by Judith Ivory Read Free Book Online

Book: Beast by Judith Ivory Read Free Book Online
Authors: Judith Ivory
Tags: Fairy Tales; Folk Tales; Legends & Mythology
she only picked up her day fan and fringed shawl, murmuring meekly, "I'm going to breakfast now. I hope you both feel better."
    Louise realized as she left her parents' room that she had become a trial. She could almost hear them consoling each other over her. She wanted to scream, to cry. Until recently, she had always thought of herself and her parents as getting along well. Now, though, they acted as if she didn't know what was expected of her. which she did; as if she hadn't always accepted it, which she had.
    It was just that everything was happening so fast. At what was supposed to be the happiest time of a young woman's life, she often felt fidgety, impatient, at times even depressed. As if a hundred things she had intended to do were left undone—except she could think of nothing she wanted to do specifically that she wasn't doing. She could think of no plans for herself but those that were unfolding: a brilliant marriage, children, a respected place in society, a rich, beautiful life. So what could possibly be wrong?
    Nothing. She kept her discontent to herself, that is, she tried to until it occurred to her that she wished she were somewhere else, like Montreal. Or France.
    In this, she supposed, she and her parents had achieved some of their old harmony: She knew they were only too glad to marry her off to a foreign title who would not have had a whisper yet of her less than sterling behavior. For them, her marriage to the Prince d'Harcourt made the most of her good qualities, attaching an envious moniker to the family while not paying a single tithe to her odd quirk for heading off to foreign cities.
    While Louise herself was happy enough to be on the move again. No one knew her in France. She liked to take readings off strangers, off their first impressions of her. Who are you ? people always asked in one way or another when she arrived at a new destination. Yes, she wanted to know this too: Who am I?
    Not this silly creature, surely, who says the right things, knows the right people, reads the right books, then shops and fixes herself all day so she can impress all night the same people she has been impressing

    since she was an infant.

Chapter 6
    Rich Dutchmen and Englishmen have eaten ambergris on eggs for breakfast.
    Charles Harcourt, Prince d'Harcourt
    On the Nature and Uses of Ambergris
    The walk wasn't long from her parents' stateroom to the dining saloon, both being at midship. Yet the going was slow. Louise held to the brass handrail, her shoulder occasionally brushing up against the mahogany paneling. At one point the lilt of the ship pulled her away from the rail to do a slow, inevitable stagger to the railing on the opposite wall. In this manner, she swayed and lurched her way through the short mazework of carved panel corridors to the grand staircase that led down into the first-class dining area.
    From the top of these wide, sweeping stairs, Louise looked down into an opulent room. The dining saloon spread the full width of the ship, extending upward through three decks and lengthwise a hundred yards. White Ionic columns embellished with gold supported a high ceiling of arching coffered panels.
    These rose into a central overhead dome painted with a mural of the open sea, sunny and sparkling, with the seven continents represented around its border. The dining-room walls were carved Spanish mahogany, inlaid with ivory. The vast space—with its ceiling lights of oxidized silver set with cut-crystal bowls, its mirrors and flowers, its long elaborately set white-linen tables, these lined with armchairs upholstered in blue, figured frieze velvet—looked more like the hall of a palace than the steel enclosure of a ship. This hall teetered, however. Most of the seats, on swivels and bolted to the floor, were turned out, empty. Only about a third of the passengers had apparently ventured out to breakfast today.
    From among one little cluster of breakfast diners, her cousin Mary waved and called out from

Similar Books

Button Down

Anne Ylvisaker

Monarch of the Sands

Sharon Kendrick

Patricide

Joyce Carol Oates

The September Garden

Catherine Law

Scaredy Kat

Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

Friends: A Love Story

Angela Bassett