The hunt was called short on account of the poor Major. We brought his body back to the house, and when we arrived there was a great outpouring of grief. Apparently, Major Tom had been thought of as the best of men, and much beloved, although I could not see why. Not to speak ill of the dead, but he struck me as being a bit...bland, and rather a gloomy fellow. Still, his death struck me harder than I would have expected. Now, no man can reach manhood without the loss of a friend or two, but this was the first time I had personally been in the presence of death.
Feeling somewhat muddled, I stood to one side in the drive as the body was carried into the house. As the deceased passed by, I saw that Mrs. Llwynog also standing by. Now, she had given every semblance of grief during our short journey to the house, weeping and carrying on so such that I had thought it would be a blessing for all of us, including her, were she to fall into a swoon, and cease her wailing. At the house with no one watching her, however, she was dry-eyed and calm. One might have speculated that the hunt had been ended on account of rain, not the death of one of the huntsman, from her countenance. Miserable woman.
She had led him into it, damn her, the least she could have done was shown some remorse. But her gaze was as cold and as pitiless as a glacier. Cruelty, thy name is woman.
However, I cannot lay all the blame at the feet of Mrs. Llwynog. Major Caine surely deserved a large portion of it. But I myself shall never allow myself to be led around by the nose by some woman. Goaded into a fateful plunge into rough ground because he felt himself less of a man than a chancer whom he barely knew? The fool.
And Mrs. Llwynog, with her guileful ways, was judge, jury, and executionatrix of the hapless Major. Leading a man on like that, when her only eye was on his pocketbook, and showing not the slightest sign of guilt or remorse afterward.
Now, I know many a man prefers his woman to be meek and mild like so much of Richardson’s work, but I myself prefer a girl with a bit of spirit. I’ve read my Vindications. I cannot for the life of me see the appeal of milksops like Pamela, Clarissa, or young Werther’s Lotte. A girl like that is only good for one thing, and that only takes perhaps forty-five minutes, and you cannot do it all day, so how would a man fill the remainder of his time, saddled with such a pale and pious wife?
No, give me a lass with fire in her belly and a lust for life, and I shall be set for life. A girl should have a generous helping of dash, if she is to win this scoundrel’s heart.
But this Mrs. Llwynog was a harpy of another sort entirely. Major Tom may have stuck his head in the noose, but she held it open for him, and if there was any justice in the world, the constable should have her down to London, and let her dance for the crowds. A murderess is still a murderess, whether she does it with poison, a blade in the night, or with humble words.
Cold and cruel, that one. And what is worse, she shall pay no price for her crime. I watched her as she was led away by some kind “gentleman”, almost instantly comporting herself as a stricken damsel, with her handkerchief to her face and tears streaming down her cheeks.
I could have slapped her.
That fox knows many tricks, but not one good one.
The Life, Times, and Misadventures of Dennis St. Michel, Viscount of Stokington, Soldier, Gambler, Diplomat, Scoundrel, Notorious Rakehell, and Lord of Menacing House, in his Own Words.