Lyon dismounted, slapped his horse on the hindquarters as a signal to take to the stables, then called out to Christina's former butler. "Elbert? What are you doing with my shoes?""The madam's orders, my lord," Elbert answered. "Didn't know a man could own so many boots," he added. "Been at this task near an hour now. Up the stairs and down the stairs, then up--""Elbert? Give me the reason why," Lyon interrupted, his voice irritated. "And what are you doing at Lyonwood? Did Christina invite you to visit?" "Hired me, sir," Elbert announced. "I'm to be Brown's assistant. Did you know how worried she was about me? She knew I wouldn't last with the old bat. Your misses has a good heart. I'll do my part, my lord. I won't be a shirking me responsibilities to you."Christina did have a good heart. His gentle wife knew Elbert wouldn't be able to find work with anyone else. He was simply too old, too feeble. "I'm sure you'll do fine, Elbert," Lyon said. "Glad to have you on staff.""Thank you, my lord," Elbert returned.Lyon notice Brown standing in the open doorway then. His butler looked upset. "Good afternoon, my lord," Brown called out. "It is so very good to have you back," he added. His voice sounded strained to Lyon, relieved as well. "Did you see your shoes, sir?""I'm not blind, man. Of course I saw them. Would you care to explain what in thunderation is going on?" "Your wife's order," Brown announced."Past wife," Elbert interjected with a cackle.Lyon took a deep breath. "What are you talking about?" He addressed his question to Brown, believing his young butler would make more sense than the old man snickering with laughter behind him."You're being divorced, my lord.""I'm what?"Brown's shoulders sagged. He knew his lord wasn't going to take the news well. "Divorced.""Cast out, my lord, pushed aside, forgotten, dead in her heart--""I get you meaning Elbert," Lyon muttered in exasperation. "I'm aware of what the word divorce means."Lyon continued into the house. The old servant shuffled after him. "Those were her very words. My mistress is divorcing you the way her people do. She said it was quite all right to get rid of a husband. You have to find someplace else to live.""I what?" Lyon asked, certain he hadn't heard correctly.Brown's insistent nod indicated he had."You're cast out, pushed aside--""For God's sake, Elbert, cease your litany," Lyon demanded. He turned back to Brown. "What is the significance of the shoes?""They signify your departure, my lord," Brown said.The butler tried not to stare at the incredulous look on his master's face. He was in jeopardy of losing his control. He stared at the floor instead."Let me get this straight in my mind," Lyon muttered. "My wife believes the house belongs to her?""And your mother, of course," Brown blurted out. "She's keeping her."Brown was biting his lower lip. Lyon thought he might be trying not to laugh."Of course," Lyon drawled.Elbert tried to be helpful once again. "It's the way her people do," he interjected, his voice gratingly cheerful."Where is my wife?" Lyon asked, ignoring Elbert's comments.He didn't wait for his servants to answer him but took the stairs two at a time to reach the bedrooms. A sudden thought made him pause. "Did she cut her hair?" he called out."She did," Elbert shouted before Brown could open his mouth. "It's the way of it," Elbert insisted. Once the hair's cut--well, then you're as good as dead to her. You're set aside, cast--""I've gotten her message," Lyon shouted. "Brown, bring my shoes inside. Elbert, so sit somewhere."
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