This Friday, April 6th, I will be making my first "public" appearance! I'm doing a guest post at A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet, run by Limecello. My topic? The First Kiss. Oh, and my appearance there includes a giveaway! So be sure to stop by and comment to be eligible!
One of the key reasons I set Never Too Late in 1851 was that this was the year of the first Great Exhibition of All Nations. Here Lord Devin escorts Honoria and his mother through the massive exhibition housed in the magnificent Crystal Palace.
“Well, as astounding as this whole extravaganza seems to be,” Lady Devin interjected, “I would greatly appreciate a bit of fresh air.”
“Are you well, Lady Devin?” She took the other woman’s hand, noting her taut posture.
“It is nothing to speak of, Mrs. Duchamp.” Lady Devin lowered her voice. “This building. It gives me the sense of a birdcage. It may be a giant cage, but it is still a kind of prison.”
“This way, Mother.” Devin led the way with authority, dividing the crowd with his stature and purposeful stride. It was as if the world truly did bow to his whim.
When their little group returned to the dazzlingly massive Central Transept, however, a circus show was in full swing, drawing a wall of onlookers impenetrable even to the great Lord Devin. Colorful jugglers spun and crossed the floor in intricate patterns, attending only to the balls they tossed in the air. Dancers wove through their paths. And then, the main attraction drew all eyes toward the sky: a trio of tightrope walkers suspended high above the crowd made their way across an impossibly fine thread. Two of the walkers supported a bar between them, hooked in some way over their shoulders, while the third walker balanced above them on that bar. They stepped slowly but surely along the rope, which trembled from their movements.
“Can you persevere, Mother?”
“Of course, my dear.”
Still, Lady Devin’s pale skin had developed a fine misty sheen. Honoria gripped her hand, as if to transmit her own strength. She was distracted though by sharp gasps from the audience. She followed the eyes around her up to the tightrope, where one of the performers wobbled dangerously.
“What a foolhardy risk,” she said.
“That is the career they have chosen,” Lord Devin responded, his eyes likewise riveted above. “Presumably, they train regularly to maintain peak performance. They accept the risk.”
“I could never do something so dangerous.”
“Could you not? I wonder if you do not do so every day.”
She tore her eyes from the spectacle above to stare at him.
“Whatever could you mean by that? I don't put myself at risk.”
He looked at her fully.
“You are a single woman, running your shop and living on your own. Your fortunes could change at any moment. Sales run dry. A careless fire could leave you with nothing.” Damn it, woman, you spread truths people want to kill you for. Of course you put yourself at risk.
She replied as if she'd heard what he did not say. “One cannot live as a prisoner of fear. We do what we must because it is the right thing to do, because we could not conceive of living a life without it.”