Yuah didn’t eat at the family dining table on any of the following four days either. It wasn’t because the dragon was there. In fact she wasn’t. Neither was Augie, and Yuah didn’t know if Iolanthe was or not. In any case, she certainly had no desire to eat alone or to eat alone with her sister-in-law. She took her meals in her room. She hadn’t gone anywhere during the day either, spending the mornings in the garden and the afternoons in the parlor or the library. She wasn’t brooding, she told herself. At last though, she could take the solitude no more.
Waking up early, Yuah decided that today would be a fine day to order a new dress. Opening up her closet however revealed that there was not an inch of room for such an addition. She immediately began pulling dresses out and tossing them into a big pile. Once she had taken out all the clothing that she would no longer have worn, she had a mountain some three feet tall in the center of her room. From the remaining collection, she chose a black dress with a red satin mock coat and a frilly bodice. It was far more traditional than she usually wore, but she remembered having appreciated how it had looked the one time she had worn it. Narsa, the lizzie dressing maid, helped her get into it, after she had donned the numerous undergarments required by Brech fashion.
“Get one of the males to take this out to the car,” Yuah told her, indicating the pile of dresses.
She went downstairs and notified the cook that she would not be home for luncheon. The lizzie did convince her to have a crumpet and a cup of tea before going out. She took them with her to sit in the enclosed back porch, where she found Walworth Partridge cleaning his pistol. Walworth, a tall and handsome man of twenty-eight, had been working for the Dechantagnes since he was a teenager, employed as a driver, bodyguard, and general problem solver.
“Good morning, Mrs. D. Going out?”
“Yes, and I would appreciate it if you could drive me. The lizzies are filling the car with some old clothing that I’m taking over to the McCoort house.”
“Right-oh.” He finished cleaning the weapon, reassembled it and loaded it, and then put it in his jacket pocket. “I’ll go get it warmed up. Enjoy your tea. Whenever you’re ready.”
“Thank you, Walworth.”
When she had finished her tea and crumpet, she dropped off her cup, saucer, and plate in the kitchen on her way through, eventually going out the front door and down the steps of the portico where Walworth was waiting in the steaming carriage. He hopped down and helped her into the passenger seat, and then started off.
Though she might have meant either one of the two well-known McCoort couples, her handsome young driver knew Yuah well enough to know that it was her best friend Honor that she intended to see. It took less than fifteen minutes to reach her destination.
“Do you mind waiting a moment?” Yuah asked.
“Of course not. Let me know. I can unload this.”
“You are a dear,” she said, climbing down and walking up the path to the stone-faced cottage.
She knocked on the door, which was opened by a lizzie servant. Silently, the reptilian ushered her in and led her to the parlor, and then turned and left. Yuah found her best friend Honor reclining on a sofa. Honor looked up and opened her mouth in surprise, and for a minute Yuah didn’t realize why. Then she saw that her friend had only one leg sticking out from beneath her dress. Yuah’s hand went to her mouth and she quickly turned around.
“I wasn’t expecting you,” said Honor.
Yuah said nothing.
“You’re going to have to turn around and help me, unless you want me to hop across the room.”
Turning slowly back around, Yuah saw that a shapely wooden leg was sitting on an end table. Hurrying over, she picked it up and brought it to her friend.
“Why was it over there.”
“I had Ziggy polishing it with furniture wax. Then he left it there when he was called away to help in the garden. I was going to wait until the lizzies came through and could hand it to me.”
She pulled up her dress and fitted the prosthesis onto her leg stump, strapping it to her thigh. Then she smoothed her dress back down, pushed herself to her feet, and gave Yuah a hug.
“Can I ask you…?”
“Do you keep your leg on in bed? With your husband?”
“Of course not. So what are you doing here? I thought you had sequestered yourself away to prevent any unwanted male attention.”
“Well, I had,” said Yuah, looking around as if she expected a clandestine observer to have his face pressed against one of the windows. “I’ve cleaned out my closet and I thought you might like one or two of my old dresses. Plus, you could tell me to whom I might give the rest.”
“Are they back at your house?”
“No. Walworth has them out in the car.”
“Ziggy!” called Honor, and when the lizzie stepped in the room. “Go out and get the clothing that is in Mrs. Dechantagne’s car.”