The Women of Eden

The Women of Eden by Marilyn Harris Read Free Book Online

Book: The Women of Eden by Marilyn Harris Read Free Book Online
Authors: Marilyn Harris
Tags: Historical fiction, Romance fiction
of innocence.
    Well, it might work on those distinguished gentlemen, but not on Burke, who had known Delane too long and who had learned at his knee those selfsame tricks. In response to the fagade of innocence, Burke rephrased his initial question. "What precisely is it that you want Lord Ripples to search out in John Murrey Eden's outpost castie?"
    Delane's expression changed; the fagade dropped away and only the glint of the journalist's eye remained. "Anything. Everything that strikes you as being of uncommon interest."
    "For what purpose?" Burke prodded further. "Are we to bring Mr. Eden down or raise him up?"

    "Neither. He's too powerful for us to do either.'*
    "Then what's the point?"
    Delane smiled. "Curiosity, Burke, that's all."
    "Yours?"
    "Mine and that of the sixty-five thousand readers of the Times." He leaned forward, warming to the subject. "You see, for all we know of John Murrey Eden, he still essentially is a man of mystery."
    "In what way?"
    "In every way," Delane retorted, as though mystery were the one thing a good journalist could not abide. "He appeared ten, twelve years ago, literally out of the ether, at an obscenely young age—"
    "How young?"
    Delane shrugged. "Scarcely twenty, at that time."
    "Is youth a crime?"
    "Not in itself, no. But for the pup to shake the Royal Exchange as though it were his private toy and launch forth into a series of building projects—on borrowed money, I might add."
    "Still, what's the offense?" Burke persisted.
    There was a pause. Delane said quietly, "No offense, except that he succeeded."
    Burke stared out the window. "How dare he?" He smiled, amused and intrigued. "But so far you have told me exactly nothing," he went on, facing Delane. "Where did he come from, this man who has offended by succeeding?"
    Delane adopted a mask of cooperation as though only too willing to share his limited knowledge. "Initially, no one knows for certain. Reliable sources informed me several years ago that he was the bastard son of the philanthropist Edward Eden, of whom I'm sure you have heard."
    No, Burke hadn't heard of Edward Eden and he wasn't interested. It wasn't the father who was the object of this journey, but rather the son.
    "And when Edward Eden was killed—"
    "How killed?"
    "An accident of some sort," Delane said, vaguely waving his hand in the air. "The boy John was sent to live with his uncle at Eden Castle."
    Delane paused. Burke watched him, still not certain why Eden had been singled out as an object of Delane's journalistic zeal. Men made fortunes daily in America and were not punished for having

    done so. Was it some dictate of the English class system which frowned on bastards overstepping their bounds?
    As though coming back to himself, Delane lifted his hands and smoothed back his thinning hair. "Oh, God, it's such a muddle! For some reason he was exiled from Eden."
    "For some reason?" Burke repeated, surprised at Delane's vagueness.
    "I swear that I've never been able to find out why."
    "And you've tried?"
    Delane smiled. "John Murrey Eden has been my avocation for the past eight years."
    "Why?"
    Delane seemed loath to respond immediately, and when in the next minute he gruffly dismissed the question with, "My motivations are not important," Burke suspected that he had two mysteries on his hands, and that the solution of one was directly related to the solution of the other.
    "Go on. After Eden's exile from North Devon, where did he go?"
    "To London," Delane replied eagerly, as though grateful to be back on track, "where he lived with a woman named Elizabeth, who in turn had lived with his father, Edward Eden."
    "Was she his mother?"
    "No—or at least she's denied it repeatedly."
    "You've asked?"
    "My sources have. Several times."
    Burke ran his fingers over his bruised knuckles, amused at how effortlessly they kept losing John Murrey Eden.
    "And after the woman named Elizabeth?" Burke went on, trying to nail down the elusive Mr. Eden.
    "Well, he did a turn

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