The Silent Cry
regrettable trade. And of course trade was beneath any of the professions. Younger sons of the gentry went into the army or the church or the law those who did not marry wealth and relieve themselves of the necessity of having to do anything. Elder sons, naturally, inherited land and money, and lived accordingly.
    Not that Hester's friendship with Monk could easily be categorised.
    Pressing through the traffic in the rain, she thought of it with a mixture of emotions, all of them disturbingly powerful. It had lurched from an initial mutual contempt, to a kind of trust which was unique in her life, and, she believed, in his also. And then as if suddenly afraid of such vulnerability, they had been quick to quarrel, to find fault and keep little rein on temper.
    But in times of need, and the mutual caring for some cause, they had worked together in an understanding that ran deeper than words, or the need or time for explanations.
    In one fearful hour in Edinburgh, when they had believed they faced death, it had seemed to be that kind of love which touches only a few lives, a depth of unity which is of the heart and mind and soul, and for one aching moment of the body also.
    In the lurching of the cab and the hiss of wheels in the rain she could remember Edinburgh as if it had been yesterday.
    But the experience had been too dangerous to the emotions, too demanding for either of them to dare again.
    Or had it only been he who would not dare?
    That was a question she did not want to ask herself, she had not meant to allow the thought into her mind… and there it was, hard and painful. Now she refused to express it. She did not know. She did not want to. Anyway, it was all irrelevant. There were parts of Monk she admired greatly: his courage, his strength of will, his intelligence, his loyalty to his beliefs, his passion for justice, his ability to face almost any kind of truth, no matter how dreadful, and the fact that he was never, ever a hypocrite.
    She also hated the streak of cruelty she knew in him, the arrogance, the frequent insensitivity. And he was a fool where judgement of character was concerned. He could no more read a woman's wiles than a dog could read Spanish! He was consistently attracted to the very last sort of woman who could ever make him happy.
    Unconsciously she was clenching her hands as she sat in the cold.
    He was bewitched, taken in again and again by pretty, softly spoken, outwardly helpless women, who were shallow of nature, manipulative and essentially searching for comfortable lives far from turmoil of any kind. He would have been bored silly by any one of them within months.
    But their femininity flattered him, their agreement to his wildest assertions had seemed like good nature and good sense, and their charming manners pleased his notion of feminine decorum. He fancied himself comfortable with them, whereas in truth he was only soothed, unchallenged, and in the end bored, imprisoned and contemptuous.
    But still he made the same mistake! His recent visit to one of the smaller German principalities was the perfect example. He had fallen under the spell of the extremely shallow and utterly selfish Countess Evelyn von Seidlitz. She was deliciously pretty with her enormous brown eyes and dimpling laugh. She had a wicked sense of humour and knew precisely how to charm, flatter and entertain. She was lovely to look at and fun to be with. She was also cold, manipulative and greedy.
    They were pressed in on all sides by hansoms, drays, carriages. Drivers were shouting. A horse squealed.
    Monk had seen through the Countess eventually, of course, but it had required unarguable evidence to convince him. And then he was angry, above all, it seemed, with Hester! She did not know why. She recalled their last meeting with twinges of pain which took her unexpectedly. It had been highly acrimonious, but then so had a great many of their meetings. Normally it caused her irritation that she had not managed to think

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