The Shadow and the Star

The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale Read Free Book Online

Book: The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale Read Free Book Online
Authors: Laura Kinsale
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance, Historical
were children themselves. He said, "I caught a
mano
, ma'am."
    "A shark! A big one?"
    He rocked from side to side in his chair. "Pretty big, ma'am."
    "As long as my arm?"
    He looked up as she held out her fingers. Her arm was plump and soft, not as slender as Lady Tess's. "A little longer."
    "Did you kill it and eat it?"
    "Yes, ma'am. I hit it with a paddle. Kuke-wahine helped me to cut it up."
    "We had it sauced for dinner last night," Lady Tess said.
    "Good." Mrs. Dominis smiled at Samuel. "To kill and eat it will make you brave."
    He looked at her with interest. "It will?'"
    "Certainly.
Mano kane
. A shark-man, afraid of nothing in the sea."
    Samuel sat up a little, struck with the idea. He considered it, imagined himself as a shark, gliding in the dark depths of the ocean. Fearless. Biting anything that threatened him, with terrible sharp teeth.
    "I'll sing you a song about sharks," Mrs. Dominis said, and began to chant in her own rich language. It wasn't even like a song, really; it didn't have a tune, but she tapped her fingers in her lap in rhythm. He listened to the flow of syllables, fascinated.
    When she was finished, Lady Tess asked her to sing something else. Mrs. Dominis stood up, still holding Kai, and sat down at the piano. For the rest of their visit she played regular English songs, with Lady Tess and young Robert singing along, and Kai clapping her baby hands out of time.
    Samuel sat still in his chair. He did not join them. Beneath all the more melodic tunes, he listened in his mind to the deep and rhythmical song of the shark.

----
Chapter Five

     
    "
You should be married, my dear," said Mrs. Wrotham
to Leda. The older woman did not, unfortunately, amplify on how this desirable object might be achieved, but sat perched on the edge of her bobbin-turned chair. "I don't care for typing." She tapped her blue-veined fingers gently together. "Only think how very dirty one's gloves must become."
    "I don't suppose I shall wear gloves, Mrs. Wrotham," Leda said. "At least, perhaps I shall take them off when I'm working on the machine."
    "But where will you put them? They will collect dirt, my dear—you know what gloves are." She nodded slowly, and the silver rolls of hair at her temples bobbed in time beneath her little bonnet, as coyly as a girl's of long ago.
    "Perhaps there will be a drawer in my desk. I'll wrap them in paper and put them in there."
    Mrs. Wrotham didn't answer, but still nodded in her slow way. Against the pale rose-pink walls and fading curtains of apple-green, she looked fragile, as delicate and antique as the garlands of Georgian plasterwork that adorned the ceiling and mantelpiece.
    "It makes me very unhappy," she said suddenly, "to think of you at a desk. I wish you will reconsider, Leda dear. Miss Myrtle might not have quite liked it, do you think?"
    This reference, made in a voice of tender reproach, touched Leda sorely. There was no doubt that Miss Myrtle would not have liked it at all. Leda bent her head and said rather desperately, "But only imagine how interesting it must be! Perhaps I might copy a manuscript written out by an author the equal of Sir Walter Scott."
    "Very unlikely, my dear," Mrs. Wrotham said, nodding more emphatically. "Very doubtful indeed. I do not think we shall see the like of Sir Walter again in our lifetimes. Would you like to pour tea?"
    Leda rose, conscious of the honor done to her with this request. It was very good of Mrs. Wrotham to ask, since Leda could see that her hostess was a little ruffled at the idea that an author might someday be born who could equal her favorite.
    As they ate their thin-sliced bread and butter, the cockney maid announced Lady Cove and her sister Miss Lovatt. For a moment there was the eternal complication at the door, as Miss Lovatt tried to hold back and allow her sister the baroness to take precedence, and Lady Cove wavered and motioned helplessly and wished her elder relation to proceed first. It was resolved as it always

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