Philippa Gregory

“kinds of disguises and dance to all sorts of tunes to make myself Harry’s addiction. If he had not been fatally flawed, early corrupted by the brutality of his school, I should never have been able to keep him from Celia. I knew I was a hundred times more beautiful than she, a hundred times stronger. But I could not always remember that, when I saw the quiet strength she drew on when she believed she was morally right. And I could not be certain that every man would prefer me, when I remembered how Harry had looked at her with such love when we came back from France. I would never forgive Celia for that summer. Even though it was the summer when I cared nothing for Harry but rode and danced day and night with John, I would not forget that Celia had taken my lover from me without even making an effort at conquest. And now my husband bent to kiss her hand as if she were a queen in a romance and he some plighted knight. I might give a little puff of irritation at this scene played out before my very window. Or I might measure the weakness in John and think how I could use it. But use it I would. Even if I had felt nothing else for John I should have punished him for turning his eyes to Celia. Whether I wanted him or not was irrelevant. I did not want my husband loving anyone else. For dinner that afternoon I dressed with extra care. I had remodelled the black velvet gown that I had worn for the winter after Papa’s death. The Chichester modiste knew her job and the deep plush folds fitted around my breasts and waist like a tight sheath, flaring out in lovely rumpled folds over the panniers at my hips. The underskirt was of black silk and whispered against the thick velvet as I walked. I made sure Lucy powdered my hair well, and set in it some black ribbon. Finally, I took off my pearl necklace and tied a black ribbon around my throat. With the coming of winter, my golden skin colour was fading to cream, and against the black of the gown I looked pale and lovely. But my eyes glowed green, dark-lashed and heavy-lidded, and I nipped my lips to make them red as I opened the parlour door. Harry and John were standing by the fireplace. John was as far away from Harry as he could be and still feel the fire. Harry was warming his plump buttocks with his jacket caught up, and drinking sherry. John, I saw in my first sharp glance, was sipping at lemonade. I had been right. Celia was trying to save my husband. And he was hoping to get his unsteady feet back on the road to health. Harry gaped openly when he saw me, and John put a hand on the mantelpiece as if one smile from me might destroy him. ‘My word, Beatrice, you’re looking very lovely tonight,’ said Harry, coming forward”

Philippa Gregory, Wideacre
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Wideacre Wideacre by Philippa Gregory
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