I wasn’t going to do this, but it’s such a vile, nasty day… and I’m still cross over missing my reading in DC. So, to make up for all the slush and the snow, here’s an extra bonus teaser, even though it’s not a Tuesday.
Someone in the comments section on the last Teaser Tuesday asked about the heroine of Pink IX. I can confirm that yes, indeed, she is an American. Those of you who have read Orchid will have met her already, in the salon scene.
I’ll have lot more to tell you about her next week, but, for the moment, here’s our first glimpse of her (through Augustus’ eyes) as she makes her appearance in Pink IX:
“Alas!” she cried, “I spy a sail
Hard-by on the wine dark sea.
I know not what it is or bides,
But I fear it comes for me!”
The Perils of the Pulchritudinous Princess of the Azure Toes, Canto XII, 14-17.
“For, lo!” proclaimed Augustus Whittlesby, from his perch on top of a bench supported by two scowling sphinxes, “In Cytherea’s perfumed sleep/ Did she dream of the denizens of the dithery deep….
“Dithery? How can the deep be dithery?” A female voice, lightly accented, cut into Augustus’ stirring rendition of Canto XII of The Perils of the Pulchritudinous Princess of the Azure Toes.
Among the smattering of people who had left the dancing in the ballroom to admire, mock, gossip, or, in the case of an elderly dowager snoring in a chair by the far wall, nap, stood two young women.
One was tall and graceful, garbed simply but elegantly in a white dress that fell in the required classical lines from a pair of admirably shaped shoulders. Her pale brown hair was gathered in a simple twist, her only jewelry a golden locket strung on a ribbon of sky blue silk.
Jane Wooliston was, thought Augustus, all that was finest in womanly charm. He had said so quite frequently in verse, but it held true in prose as well. Not even his execrable effusions could mask her inestimable worth.
She wasn’t the one who had spoken.
It had been the other one. Next to her. Half a head down.
What Emma Delagardie lacked in height, she made up for by the exuberantly curled plumes that rose from her silver spangled headdress. The tall plumes jutted a good foot into the air, bouncing up and down—like great, annoying bouncing things. In Augustus’ annoyance, metaphor failed him. Her dress was white, but it wasn’t the white of innocent maidens and virtuous dreams. It was of silk, sinuous and shiny, overlain with some sort of shimmery stuff that sparkled when she moved, creating the sensation of a constant disturbance in the air around her.
Emma Delagardie was slight, fine-boned, and small-featured, the top of her head barely level with Miss Wooliston’s elegantly curved shoulder, but she took up far more room than her small stature would warrant.
“You might have the dire deep,” Mme Delagardie suggested, her American accent very much in evidence, “or the dreadful deep, but not dithery. It’s not even a proper word.”
“Your deep may be dire, but my deep is dithery. There is such a thing as poetic license, Mme Delagardie,” said Augustus grandly.
“License or laziness? Surely another word might serve your purpose better. The deep is a rather stationary thing.”
Who had appointed Emma Delagardie the Grand Inquisitor for Poetical Excellence, Greater Paris Branch? It had been a sad, sad day for France when her uncle had been appointed American Envoy to Paris and an even sadder one when she had decided to outlast his tenure and stay.
Perhaps America would like to take her back?
More about Emma coming up soon!