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"Ah, Ethan, youíre awake," Lord Cameron said, pushing open the door to the servantís room and finding him daubing paint onto a canvas. "I see youíve settled in rather quickly." Ethan nearly dropped his palette in surprise.
"My lord," he said, recovering smoothly. He dropped to one knee, carefully setting his palette and brush down.
"Oh, hey, you donít have to do that. Itís not like I run the place or anything." Cameron laughed. "Seriously, get up, Iím going to take you around. You got in rather late last night, didnít you?" He put a comradely arm around the young manís shoulders and ushered him swiftly out of the room.
"Yes, it was a long ride. I slept very well, being in a House rather than on the open road." Ethan glanced at the tapestries and paintings lining the hallway as he talked, admiring the artwork heíd only dimly seen the night before. Lord Cameron took notice of the servantís interest and filed it mentally for future reference.
"Down to the right are Lady Isoldeís chambers. Sheís betrothed to Lord Owen, as youíve probably heard. Heíll be returning from Simmandy sometime next week. Over down that hall are Lady Aravis and my chambers. There is a door connecting your rooms to ours, but we can have that walled up if you feel that invades your privacy." Cameron pointed vaguely in a few directions. "Stairs are . . . right here." He gestured for the younger man to precede him.
"Your House is very nicely appointed," Ethan commented as he descended the thickly carpeted stairs.
"Yeah, Aravis and Isolde do all that," Lord Cameron waved the compliment off. "Speaking of whom . . ." He stuck his head in the doorway of the study. "Aravis, leave off playing with the little men for a moment." A young dark-skinned woman looked around from the chessboard. She smiled at Ethan welcomingly.
"Do you play chess, Ethan?" she asked, lifting a carved piece for him to see.
"Donít let her talk you into a game, sheíll destroy you completely and smile the whole damn time," Cameron warned him. He grinned at Aravis teasingly. "But Iíll take you any time . . ." She frowned in mock disapproval.
"Get out of here, silly boy," she said, turning back to the board with a small smile on her face.
"Right-o, my lady love," Cameron said. "Have you seen Isolde lately, by the way?" He got a shrug in return, and so he led Ethan out of the room and down the hall.
"This is the kitchen, and this is where we all eat. You can eat with us, of course, any time you want. Thereís not really anyone else here, anyway, just the maid, but she doesnít ever talk to us. Weíre not sure where she even sleeps." He waved a hand in the general direction of the dining room. They moved down the hall again, towards the sitting room. "Piano, gramophones, books, whatever, in there . . ."
Ethan nodded, and then something moving swiftly away from them caught his eye. He turned to look, and saw a pale figure of a woman disappear into the stairwell.
"Who was that?" he asked Lord Cameron.
"Who was what? Oh, thatís just the Lady Ophelia. Sheís dead."
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