A Lady in the Smoke 6 (Chapters 33-42)

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SPOILERS!!!

After the first session of the trial, Elizabeth returns to the inn to find her friend Anne there. Anne is not alone but with her brother Philip. The young man tells Elizabeth that he appreciates her keeping quiet about what she knows about Felix. Then he reveals that Felix had syphilis, and that is why his condition might have worsened in the accident. Yet, Philip says he won’t testify, but there is someone else who knows about the syphillis, his valet. So Anne and Philip will find the man and bring him to court. Now the valet is retired, and he is a very honest and loyal man, so he will be ready to testify.

Later Elizabeth receives James’s visit. He is not happy, and he starts scolding her for the way he acted during the trial. He and everybody else in the room have noticed that Elizabeth has feelings for Paul Wilcox, so now the prosecutor is going to call Elizabeth to testify. James instructs her how to behave and talk.

The following day during the trial the prosecutor gives Elizabeth a hard time, but she manages to move everyone with her testimony, and she trumps the prosecutor’s attack. Her speech shows how sensitive and intelligent she is. Her testimony is followed by Felix’s valet, who explains about her master’s disease. In the end, Paul is acquitted, but Elizabeth has to rein in her feelings, and Paul leaves without Elizabeth having the chance to tell him anything.

Outside the court Elizabeth finds Mr Shaw talking to Felix’s doctor, who accused Paul of manslaughter. It is clear that both of them have plotted together against Paul. Elizabeth can’t help but come closer to the men, and unlike the last time Elizabeth talked to Lord Shaw, the man is rude and malicious, and even threatens Elizabeth. Something in what he has said makes Elizabeth wonder about her father’s death, and when she talks to Martin, her groom, who has been working in the house for years, he tells her another part of the story. He thinks that the circumstances surrounding Elizabeth’s father’s death are suspicious. The man fell off a horse that was the most stable mount they had, and later Martin found a wound in the horse’s flanks as if it had been hit. Martin guesses that Lord Shaw must have surprised Elizabeth’s father and his wife together. Shaw was supposed to return three days later, but Martin learns through a servant that Lord Shaw received a letter urging to come back, and that letter came from Lady Margaret Fraser, Elizabeth’s mother. So now Elizabeth understands why her mother became so sick after her husband’s death and why she got dependent on laudanum: because she felt guilty. Elizabeth also learns how dangerous Lord Shaw is as he is capable of murder.

In the house James comes finding her, and she surprises her when he tells her that he has feelings for her and wants to marry her. Elizabeth is bewildered, not knowing what to say. Unlike what I thought, James is a good man and doesn’t care about her dowry, but Elizabeth feels she can’t marry someone if she loves Paul. So she simply asks James for some time to consider his proposal. I don’t know what to think about this new development. I like James and at the time marriage between an upper-class woman like Elizabeth is, and a poor doctor was unthinkable. Yet, I’m an undying romantic, so I still root for her and Paul.

Elizabeth sends a telegram to Tom Flynn, warning him, and then when she is having dinner with her aunt and uncle, she discovers two names that could be involved in the business of the railway. Lord Bucknell’s son and Lady Truax’s daughter are to get married, and for some reason she thinks these are the names they were looking for. She sends another telegram to Tom Flynn and then decides to ride to the inn where Paul is. She tells him everything, and in the end they finally kiss. So romantic. Yet, as Elizabeth bids him goodbye, she feels this will be the last time she will see him. Will that be true? We are reaching the end of the book, and I just have a few pages left, so I don’t know what will happen then and what Elizabeth will decide.

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