Description : Educating Elizabeth
London, England 1814.
"Did you say three, Your Grace? Three thousand pounds?"
The man's stammered question tailed into sudden silence.
Gervase David Saint-Malo, seventh Duke of Diable Delamere, sat back and contemplated the shine on his outstretched boots. Even in the dim light of the impromptu gaming parlor, their deep polish satisfied him. The secret ingredient his valet used to achieve such perfection was worth every penny of his wage.
The duke glanced across at his opponent, Mr. Forester, who was sweating profusely. Gervase shook back the ruffles from his wrist and stirred the crumpled pile of scrawled vouchers with one long finger.
"You mistake me, m'sieur." Gervase allowed a moment of hope to lighten the wretched man's face before he dashed it. "I said three thousand guineas." He raised one eyebrow in a polite query. "You doubt my word?"
Mr. Forester's face turned as sickly yellow as the stub of tallow candle that guttered between them on the card table.
Gervase examined his fingernails as Mr. Forester leaned closer and muttered, "Your Grace, I beg of you, a private word."
With a yawn, Gervase dropped his cards on the table and bowed to his erstwhile opponent. He smiled as he ventured deeper into the shabby rented house. The other guests at the ill-fated card party melted away into the shadows, leaving the duke to his prey.
Mr. Forester held no surprises for him. By the time Gervase had inherited his father's...