[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]
.There were no rehearsals, only reality.She looked at Jack again, and saw the indecision still in him.She said nothing.She was not yet ready for the answer, whatever it was.He was right, there were some prices that were very high to pay for power.And yet without power one could achieve little, perhaps nothing.Battles were costly; that was the nature of fighting for any principle, any victory at all.And if you retreated from the struggle because it hurt, then the prize went to someone else, someone like Voisey.And what was the price of that? If good men did not take up the sword, literal and figurative, then the victory would go to whoever would.Where did the right lie?If it were easy to see, maybe more people would find it, and fewer be beguiled along the way.She moved a step closer to Jack and linked her arm in his.Then he turned to her, but she did not meet his eyes.There was a reception that evening which Emily had considered earlier would promise a certain enjoyment.It was less formal than a dinner and offered much more opportunity to speak with a greater variety of people of one’s choice, simply because one was not seated around a table.As usual at such events there would be some form of entertainment, either a small orchestra, with a soloist to sing, or possibly a string quartet, or an exceptional pianist.However, she already knew that Rose and Aubrey Serracold would also be there, and word of this afternoon’s speech would have reached at least some of the guests, so in a matter of an hour or so all would be aware not only of Aubrey’s extraordinary breach of sense in the newspapers but of the superb response to Voisey’s speech.The evening now promised to be awkward, even embarrassing.And whatever Jack was going to do about it, time would not allow him any more latitude in which to make up his mind.It was unfair, but she was angry with Charlotte for not being here to discuss it with.There was no one else in whom she could have confided exactly the same feelings, the doubts and the questions.As always, she dressed carefully.Impressions mattered a great deal, and she had long known that a pretty woman can charm a man’s attention when a plainer one cannot.She had also learned more recently that careful grooming, a shade and line of gown that flattered, a direct smile with an air of confidence, could make others believe one was far more beautiful than was the bare fact.Accordingly, she wore a tight-waisted, flaring gown of natural-colored sheer printed in green, a shade which had always become her.The effect was so dramatic that even Jack, in a wretched mood over Voisey, widened his eyes and was obliged to compliment her.“Thank you,” she said with satisfaction.She was dressed for battle, but he was still the conquest which mattered the most.They arrived sixty minutes after the hour stated on the invitation, which was about as early as was decently acceptable.A score of other people arrived either immediately before or after them, and for a few moments the hall was a crush of guests all exchanging greetings.The ladies divested themselves of capes.Though the evening was mild, they would not be leaving until after midnight, when it would be chilly.Emily saw several social acquaintances and political wives it was wise to befriend, and a few she actually liked.She knew that Jack had his own duties for the evening which he could not afford to ignore.This was not an occasion purely for pleasure.She set about listening with charm and attention, passing the appropriate, well-thought compliment, exchanging a word or two of gossip which if repeated would not come back to haunt her.It was two hours later, after the musical entertainment had begun—the soloist was one of the plainest women Emily had ever seen, but had the effortless soaring voice of a true operatic diva—that Emily saw Rose Serracold.She must only just have arrived, since she was so strikingly dressed no one could possibly have missed her.Her gown was vermilion and black stripes, richly draped over the sleeves and bust in black lace, which flattered her extreme slenderness.There was a vermilion flower on the skirt to match the ones at bosom and shoulder.She was sitting on one of the chairs at the edge of the group, her back stiff, the light gleaming on her pale hair like the sun on corn silk.Emily looked for Aubrey beside her, or beyond, and did not see him.The singer was so very excellent she commanded the mind and the senses, her voice so lovely it would have been vandalism of the ear to speak through her performance.But as soon as it was over Emily stood up and went to Rose.There was a small group already gathered around, and before anyone stood a little to one side to allow her to join, she heard the conversation [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]