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Chapter 5

"What are we going to study this morning, Mr. Chillhurst?" Ethan asked as he spread jam on his toast.

Jared opened his appointment journal which lay beside his plate. He glanced at the entry he had made under morning lessons. "Geometry."

"Geometry." Ethan gave a heartfelt groan.

Jared ignored the reaction as he closed the journal. He glanced again at Olympia's tense, abstracted expression. Something was wrong but thus far he had no notion of what the problem was. A cold sensation went through him at the thought that she might be having regrets about last night.

He had rushed her, he thought. He must give her more time to adjust to the passion that had sprung up like wildfire between them. He must not ruin everything by pushing too hard, too fast.

"I do not care for mathematics," Hugh announced.

"Especially geometry," Robert added. "We shall be stuck indoors all morning."

"No, we will not be indoors today." Jared looked at Mrs. Bird. "A bit more coffee, if you please, Mrs. Bird."

"Aye, sir." Mrs. Bird lumbered over to the table with the pot. She scowled at Ethan as she filled Jared's cup. "And just what do ye think yer doin' with that bit o' sausage?"

"Nothing," Ethan replied, his expression angelic.

"Yer feedin' it to that dog under the table, ain't ye?"

"No, I'm not."

"Yes, you are," Hugh said cheerfully. "I saw you."

"You cannot prove it," Ethan retorted.

"Don't have to prove it," Hugh said. "We all know it's true."

Olympia looked up, momentarily distracted from her quiet contemplation of the eggs on her plate. "Are you two arguing again?"

"The argument is finished," Jared said calmly. He gave the twins a quelling glance and they immediately subsided. "Mrs. Bird, perhaps it would be best if you removed Minotaur from the room."

"Right ye are, sir. I never did approve of having dogs in the house." Mrs. Bird went to the kitchen door and snapped her fingers at Minotaur.

The big dog reluctantly inched out from under the table and, with a last hopeful glance at Ethan, slunk into the kitchen.

"How are we going to study geometry outdoors, Mr. Chillhurst?" Robert asked.

"We will begin by measuring the distance across the stream without actually crossing it," Jared said. He watched as Olympia went back to concentrating on her eggs.

"How can you do that?" Ethan asked, his curiosity apparently piqued.

"I will show you," Jared said, his eyes still on Olympia's face. "And when you have the knack of it, I shall tell you the tale of how Captain Jack used the technique to find his way out of a jungle."

"A jungle in the Isthmus of Panama?" Hugh asked.

"No, this was a jungle on an island in the West Indies," Jared explained. He smiled to himself when Olympia glanced up, her attention caught at last. Good old Captain Jack, he thought ruefully.

"What was Captain Jack doing in the middle of an island jungle?" Ethan asked.

"Concealing a treasure chest, of course," Jared murmured.

Olympia's eyes widened with interest. "Did he ever go back to the island to dig up his chest?"

"I believe he did go back for that one," Jared said.

"Did Captain Jack really use geometry to find his way off the island?" Robert asked.

"Yes, he did." Jared took a sip of coffee and studied Olympia's expression over the rim of the cup. The unfocused look had returned to her eyes. She was lost in her thoughts again. Even the bit about Captain Jack had not held her for long this morning. Something was definitely wrong.

"Did Captain Jack slit a man's throat and leave his bones on the treasure chest as a warning to anyone who dug it up?" Hugh demanded.

Jared nearly choked on his coffee. "Where the devil did you get a notion like that?"

"I've heard that pirates always did that," Hugh said.

"I have told you, Captain Jack was a buccaneer, not a pirate." Jared drew his watch from his pocket and checked the time. "If you are finished, you may leave the table. I want to speak privately with your aunt. Run upstairs and gather some pencils and paper. I'll join you in a few minutes."

"Yes, sir," Robert said eagerly.

Chairs scraped loudly as the three youngsters scrambled to leave the room.

"One moment, if you please," Jared said quietly.

All three turned back obediently.

"Did you forget something, Mr. Chillhurst?" Robert asked.

"No, you did. All three of you forgot to excuse yourselves properly to your aunt."

"Sorry, sir." Robert sketched a little bow. "Please excuse me, Aunt Olympia."

"Beg pardon, Aunt Olympia," Hugh said. "Have to leave now."

"Excuse me, Aunt Olympia," Ethan sang out. "Got to prepare for our studies, you know."

Olympia blinked and smiled vaguely at all three. "Yes, of course. Have a pleasant morning."

There was another concerted rush to the door. Jared waited patiently until the room had been cleared. Then he gazed down the length of the table at Olympia.

She looked so very pretty sitting there in a shaft of warm sunlight, he thought. There was an astonishing sense of intimacy to be found in this business of sharing the morning meal with her. A now-familiar stab of desire went through him.

Today Olympia's striking, intelligent face was framed by the neatly pleated frill of a modest white lawn chemisette. The bright yellow shade of her high-waisted gown accented her red hair, which was loosely pinned beneath a dainty white lace cap.

Jared wondered fleetingly what she would do if he got up and went down the length of the table to kiss her. That thought led to a vision of Olympia lying atop the table amid the clutter of dishes and teacups. He could see her now with her lovely legs dangling over the edge of the table, her skirts pushed up to her waist and her hair in wild disarray.

He could also see himself in the mental image. He was standing between Olympia's soft, white thighs, his body violently aroused, honey on his hands.

Jared stifled a groan of frustration and made a grab for his self-control. "Something appears to be troubling you this morning, Miss Wingfield. May I inquire what the problem is?"

Olympia glanced quickly toward the kitchen door and then cast another hurried look at the door that had closed behind her nephews. She leaned forward and lowered her voice.

"As it happens, I have been very anxious to talk to you all morning, Mr. Chillhurst."

Jared wondered fleetingly if she would continue to call him Mr. Chillhurst after she had reached her first climax in his arms. "I believe we have some privacy now. Pray, tell me what is on your mind."

Olympia's brows drew together in a look of intense concentration. "Something very strange happened in the library last night."

Jared's stomach knotted. He strove to keep his voice calm and reassuring. "Unfamiliar, perhaps, Miss Wingfield, but I would not term it strange. Men and women have, after all, been enjoying such pleasant interludes since the days of Adam and Eve."

Olympia stared at him blankly. "What on earth are you talking about, sir?"

Just his luck, Jared thought gloomily. At long last he had found his own personal siren only to discover that she was cursed with the sort of brain that tended to concentrate on one thing at a time.

Nevertheless, it was an enormous relief to know that she was not, apparently, having second thoughts about the passion that had flared between them.

"Do not concern yourself, Miss Wingfield." Jared rested his elbows on the table and planted his fingertips together. "I was referring to something quite inconsequential."

"I see." Olympia shot another cautious glance toward both doors. "About last night…"


"Minotaur barked sometime around two. I went downstairs to see what had alarmed him." She pitched her voice even lower. "Mr. Chillhurst, I found the brandy decanter overturned."

Jared stared at her. "Are you talking about the one in your library?"

"Yes, of course I am. It is the only brandy decanter I own. It was Aunt Sophy's, you see. She and Aunt Ida always kept it in the library."

"Miss Wingfield, perhaps it would be best if you continued with your tale," Jared said.

She gave him an impatient look. "That is precisely what I am attempting to do, sir, but you keep interrupting me."

"My apologies." Jared drummed his fingertips together.

"In addition to the overturned decanter, I also discovered that a window in the library was open."

Jared frowned. "Are you certain? I do not recall a window being open in there earlier."

"Precisely. There were no windows open."

"Perhaps the breeze from the window knocked the decanter over," Jared said slowly.

"Not likely. That decanter is extremely heavy. Mr. Chillhurst, I believe someone entered my library last night."

"Miss Wingfield, I must tell you that I am not pleased."

Olympia's eyes widened. "Neither am I, sir. Nothing like this has ever happened before around here. It is rather alarming."

Jared studied her over his steepled fingers. "Are you telling me that you went downstairs all by yourself to investigate strange sounds in your library? You did not wake Mrs. Bird or loose the dog first?"

Olympia brushed the matter aside. "There is no cause for concern, sir. I was armed with a poker. In any event the library was quite empty by the time I got there. I suspect Minotaur's barking frightened off the intruder."

"A poker? Good God." Jared was suddenly furious at her lack of common sense. He got to his feet and started toward the door. "I believe I shall have a look at the library, myself."

Olympia jumped up quickly. "I'll come with you."

He opened the door of the breakfast room and gave her a hard, disapproving look as she went past him into the hall. Olympia took no notice of his expression.

She hurried on down the hall ahead of him and rushed into the library. Jared forced himself to follow at a more deliberate pace.

When he entered the room a moment later he found Olympia examining one of the windows.

"See here?" She pointed to the latch. "It has been broken. Someone forced this window last night, Mr. Chillhurst."

Jared took a closer look at the window latch. The old metal hardware had, indeed, been bent. "The latch was not in this condition earlier?"

"No, I would have noticed. I have checked the latches on these windows every night for years."

Jared swept the room with a glance. "Is anything missing?"

"No." Olympia went to her desk and tested the locked drawers. "But it was a near thing. Whoever broke the window latch would have had no trouble getting into my desk."

Jared gave her a sharp glance. "You believe someone was after something in your desk?"

"Of course. There is only one thing anyone could want to steal from me, Mr. Chillhurst, and that is the Lightbourne diary."

Jared stared at her, dumbfounded by her conclusion. "No one knows you have it." Except me, he thought.

"We cannot be certain of that. I gave Uncle Artemis strict instructions not to tell anyone about the diary, but there is no way of knowing who might have discovered that he sent it to me."

"It is highly unlikely that your uncle mentioned the fact to anyone," Jared said carefully.

"He told you about it, did he not?"

Jared tensed. "Yes, he did."

"Of course he did so because he knew that he could trust you. But I believe there are others who knew that my uncle had purchased the diary."

"Who are you referring to, Miss Wingfield?"

"Well, there is the old Frenchman who sold the diary to Uncle Artemis in the first place." Olympia tapped the toe of her slipper-clad foot. "He may have learned that the diary was being sent on to me. He could have told any number of people."

She was right. And if she knew the whole truth, Jared thought, she would likely consider her nephews' new tutor the most logical suspect. But he had spent the night in his own bed contemplating the pleasures of seducing a siren, not rifling through a library.

Jared tried to suppress his growing unease. Over the years others had chased the secret of the Lightbourne diary but to Jared's knowledge the only people who knew about it these days were the members of his own family. Everyone else involved in the hundred-year-old legend had long since died.

He had given orders to the members of his family to stay out of the matter while he pursued the treasure. But now Jared wondered if one of the unpredictable, hotheaded Ryders had decided to defy his edict.

Jared's jaw tightened. If any member of his clan had resorted to the burglary of Olympia's home in an effort to retrieve the diary, there would be hell to pay.

But there were other, more logical explanations for the intrusion into the library, he reminded himself.

"Miss Wingfield, I think it far more likely that if someone did, indeed, enter your home last night, it was to search for something more valuable than an old diary. That brandy decanter, for example. It would bring a nice bit of blunt to any cracksman who managed to filch it."

Olympia frowned. "I doubt that whoever invaded my library last night was after the brandy decanter or the candlesticks or anything else. We have never had that sort of trouble in this neighborhood. No, I have given this a great deal of thought and I have concluded that the warning I discovered in the diary is clear."

"Bloody hell." A terrible premonition came over Jared. "What warning?"

Olympia's eyes sparkled with excitement. "Last night I unraveled the first of the concealed clues in the diary. It was 'Beware the Guardian's deadly kiss when you peer into its heart to find the key.' "

"Are you certain?"

"Absolutely certain. The Guardian, whoever he is, may be extremely dangerous. We cannot be too careful."

Good God, Jared thought. He had to distract her from that line of speculation immediately.

"Now see here, Miss Wingfield, I do not believe that we need concern ourselves with an old legend. If there ever was a Guardian, he would be dead by now."

"It has been my experience that behind every old legend there is usually a kernel of truth. It is obvious I must continue with my study of the diary. Perhaps I will find some further reference to this Guardian or an explanation of who he is."

"I doubt it," Jared muttered.

"In the meantime, I must protect the diary. It is only merest chance that I had it upstairs in my bedchamber last night when the intruder came looking for it." Olympia examined her library with a thoughtful look.

The thundering sound of footsteps and the scrabble of dog claws on the hall floor interrupted Jared before he could respond. He glanced at the open doorway as Ethan, Hugh, Robert, and Minotaur bounded into the room.

"We're ready for our geometry lesson, Mr. Chillhurst," Robert announced.

Jared hesitated and then nodded. "Very well." He turned briefly back to Olympia. "We shall finish this conversation later, Miss Wingfield."

"Yes, of course." But it was obvious that Olympia's attention was no longer on the discussion. She was too busy surveying the library for potential hiding places.

Jared followed the boys outdoors. Matters were getting complicated, he thought. Olympia was preparing to defend herself and the diary from an ancient legend.

Meanwhile, the legend in question wanted nothing more than to make wild, passionate love to Olympia.

Jared pushed the problem of seduction aside in favor of more mundane matters. He was at his best when it came to such things, he reflected dourly.

He prepared to make a note in his appointment journal of matters that needed to be attended to as soon as possible. For starters he would check all the locks and latches in the house and see to it that the broken hardware was repaired.

The odds were that whoever had entered the library last night had simply been after a few valuables that could be easily sold. The culprit had no doubt been scared off by Minotaur's barking and was highly unlikely to risk returning.

But Jared did not intend to take any chances.

Shortly after three o'clock that afternoon, the clatter of carriage wheels in the drive interrupted Olympia's work on the diary. She listened for a moment, hoping that whoever had come to call would go away again when Mrs. Bird announced that she was busy.

"Miss Wingfield is not receiving visitors this afternoon," Mrs. Bird announced loudly to whoever was at the door.

"Nonsense. She will see us."

Olympia groaned in dismay at the sound of the familiar female voice. She closed the diary as Mrs. Bird opened the library door.

"What is it, Mrs. Bird?" Olympia asked in what she hoped was an authoritative tone. "I gave instructions that I was not to be disturbed this afternoon. I am very busy."

"Mrs. Pettigrew and Mrs. Norbury to see you, Miss Wingfield," Mrs. Bird said sullenly. "Real insistent about it, I might add."

Olympia knew there was little point in trying to evade the visit. She and Mrs. Bird could have handled Mrs. Norbury, the vicar's wife. The poor woman was easily intimidated having had a great deal of practice being browbeaten by her overbearing husband. But there was no stopping Mrs. Pettigrew who was just as forceful in her own right as the squire.

"Good afternoon." Olympia managed a weak smile for her visitors as they were shown into the library. "What a pleasant surprise. Will you have a cup of tea?"

"Of course." Mrs. Pettigrew, a large, substantial woman who favored large, substantial hats, took a chair.

Olympia had always privately considered Adelaide Pettigrew a good match for her husband. As the wife of the most important landholder in the neighborhood, she was very conscious of her position in local society. She was also, in Olympia's opinion, much too concerned with the proper positions of everyone else in the vicinity. Ethan, Hugh, and Robert called her a nosy old busybody.

Years ago Aunt Sophy and Aunt Ida had formed the same opinion.

Mrs. Norbury gave Olympia an uncertain nod as she seated herself in the small chair. She placed her small reticule primly on her lap and clutched it nervously with both hands. She was a pale little mouse of a woman whose gaze was always sliding off into the corner as if seeking her rightful hole in the wall.

Olympia did not like the fact that Mrs. Pettigrew had brought the vicar's wife along for the visit. It did not bode well.

"I'll fetch the tea tray," Mrs. Bird grumbled.

"Thank you, Mrs. Bird." Olympia faced her visitors, took a deep breath, and prepared herself. "Lovely day is it not?"

Mrs. Pettigrew ignored the remark. "We are here on a matter of grave concern." She shot her companion a commanding look. "Is that not correct, Mrs. Norbury?"

Mrs. Norbury flinched. "Quite correct, Mrs. Pettigrew."

"What is this grave concern?" Olympia asked.

"An issue of propriety has arisen," Mrs. Pettigrew announced in ominous accents. "To be frank, I confess I was surprised to see that your household was involved, Miss Wingfield. Heretofore, your behavior, while admittedly eccentric and occasionally downright odd, has rarely been lacking in appropriate decorum."

Olympia gazed at her, mystified. "Has something about my behavior changed recently?"

"It most certainly has, Miss Wingfield." Mrs. Pettigrew paused for effect. "We understand that you have hired a most unsuitable tutor for your three nephews."

Olympia went utterly still. "Unsuitable? Unsuitable? What in heaven's name are you talking about, Mrs. Pettigrew? The tutor I have employed is an excellent instructor of youth. Mr. Chillhurst is doing a fine job."

"We are told that your Mr. Chillhurst has an extremely menacing appearance and that he likely cannot be trusted." Mrs. Pettigrew glanced at Mrs. Norbury for support. "Is that not so, Mrs. Norbury?"

Mrs. Norbury clutched her reticule more tightly. "Yes, Mrs. Pettigrew. Extremely menacing appearance. Looks like a pirate, we're told."

Mrs. Pettigrew turned back to Olympia. "We are given to understand that he not only looks exceedingly rough and dangerous, but that he has a violent temperament."

"Violent?" Olympia glowered at Mrs. Pettigrew. "That is ridiculous."

"He is said to have struck Mr. Draycott a most ferocious blow," Mrs. Norbury vouchsafed. "Indeed, they say both Mr. Draycott's eyes are still black from the experience."

"Oh, you are referring to that little incident the other afternoon here in my library." Olympia smiled with quick reassurance. "It was nothing. An unfortunate misunderstanding."

"Hardly a misunderstanding," Mrs. Norbury said grimly. "Your Mr. Chillhurst is obviously a threat to the entire neighborhood."

"Nonsense." Olympia stopped smiling. "You exaggerate, Mrs. Pettigrew."

"Not only is he a danger to us all," Mrs. Pettigrew retorted, "but my husband has reason to believe that he may well have taken advantage of your naive nature, Miss Wingfield."

Olympia glared at her. "I assure you, Mr. Chillhurst has not taken advantage of me."

"He apparently absconded with a shipment of goods that your uncle sent to you," Mrs. Pettigrew said.

"Quite untrue." Olympia got to her feet. "Mrs. Pettigrew, I regret that I must ask you to leave. I have a great deal of work to do this afternoon and I cannot afford to waste my time like this."

"Have you seen any sign of the proceeds that you ought to have realized from your uncle's last shipment?" Mrs. Pettigrew asked coldly.

"Not yet. But there has hardly been time for the goods to have been sold in London, let alone for us to have received the funds."

"My husband informs me that you are highly unlikely to see any money from that shipment," Mrs. Pettigrew said. "But, to be sure, your financial situation is not my major concern."

Olympia flattened both of her hands on top of the desk and set her teeth. "Just what is your major concern, Mrs. Pettigrew?"

"Your reputation, Miss Wingfield."

Olympia stared at her in disbelief. "My reputation? How is my reputation in danger?"

Mrs. Norbury apparently felt it was time for her to do her part. She coughed slightly to clear her throat. "It is not proper for a single woman such as yourself to have, shall we say, a close association with a person of Mr. Chillhurst's sort."

"Quite right," Mrs. Pettigrew said. She gave the vicar's wife an approving look and then rounded on Olympia once more. "Your Mr. Chillhurst must be dismissed at once."

Olympia narrowed her eyes at both women. "Now see here, Mr. Chillhurst is a tutor in this household. As it happens, he is a very good tutor and I have absolutely no intention of dismissing him. Furthermore, neither of you has any right to spread lies and rumors about him."

"What about your reputation?" Mrs. Norbury piped up anxiously.

A movement at the corner of Olympia's eye caught her attention. She turned her head and saw that Jared was leaning very casually in the doorway. He smiled slightly at her.

"My reputation is my concern, Mrs. Norbury," Olympia said bluntly. "Do not bother yourself about it. No one else has bothered about it for the past several years and I have gotten along just fine."

Mrs. Pettigrew lifted her chin. "I regret to say this, but if you will not listen to reason, we may be obliged to take action."

Olympia eyed her in disgust. "And just what sort of action would that be, Mrs. Pettigrew?"

"We have a duty to see to the welfare of those three innocent young boys who are in your care," Mrs. Pettigrew said coldly. "If you will not provide them with a proper home then my husband will have to take steps to see that they are removed from your household."

Panic and rage ignited like dry tinder inside Olympia. "You cannot take my nephews away from this house. You have no right to do so."

Mrs. Pettigrew gave her a thin, superior smile. "I'm certain that if my husband were to contact a few of the boys' other relatives and inform them about the situation in this household he would find one or two who would be willing to take charge of your nephews."

"Not bloody likely," Olympia shot back. "They're here in the first place because no one else wanted them."

"That situation might alter when they learn that the boys are being raised by a young woman of dubious morals. I'm sure Mr. Pettigrew will find someone in your family who can be persuaded to do his duty by the boys." Mrs. Pettigrew's smile grew more threatening. "Especially if Mr. Pettigrew offers a small stipend to provide for your nephews to be sent away to school."

Olympia was literally shaking with the force of her anger. "You would pay someone to take my nephews away from me and put them into a school?"

Mrs. Pettigrew gave a brisk nod of her head. "If necessary, yes. For their own good, of course. The young are so very impressionable."

Olympia could not stand it any longer. "Please leave at once, Mrs. Pettigrew." She glanced at the vicar's wife who was cowering in her chair. "You, too, Mrs. Norbury. And do not bother to return. I will not tolerate either one of you in this household again. Is that quite clear?"

"Now, see here, young woman," Mrs. Pettigrew began sharply.

Whatever she was going to say was forestalled by a startled shriek from Mrs. Norbury who had risen from her chair and turned toward the door.

"May the lord have mercy, that must be him." Her hand went to her throat in a fluttery little gesture of fascinated horror. "It is just as you said, Mrs. Pettigrew. The man looks very much like a murderous, bloodthirsty pirate."

Mrs. Pettigrew swung around and regarded Jared with grave disapproval. "A pirate, indeed. Allow me to tell you, sir, that you have no business in a decent household."

"Good afternoon, ladies." Jared inclined his head in a graceful, mocking bow. "I do not believe we have been properly introduced. I am Chillhurst."

Mrs. Pettigrew marched toward the door. "I do not hold conversations with your sort. If you have any claim to civility, you will leave this household at once. You are causing great damage to Miss Wingfield's reputation and there is no knowing how much damage you have already done to the minds of her young nephews. To say nothing of the harm you have done to her financial affairs."

"Leaving so soon?" Jared straightened and got out of Mrs. Pettigrew's path.

"My husband will deal with the likes of you." Mrs. Pettigrew sailed out into the hall. "Come along, Cecily. We are leaving."

Mrs. Norbury nervously eyed Jared's black velvet patch.

"I beg your pardon, sir," she mumbled. "I hope we have not offended you."

"Ah, but I am offended, madam," Jared said very softly. "Deeply offended."

Mrs. Norbury looked as if the devil himself had spoken. "Oh, dear."

Jared gave her a chilling smile. Then he went to the front door and opened it wide.

"Do hurry, Cecily," Mrs. Pettigrew snapped.

"Yes, yes, I'm coming." Mrs. Norbury collected herself and darted toward the door.

"Here now, what's going on?" Mrs. Bird appeared from the kitchen, tea tray in hand. "I've just got the bloody tea ready."

Olympia went to stand in the hall beside Jared. "Our guests will not require tea this afternoon, Mrs. Bird."

"Typical," Mrs. Bird complained sourly. "Go to a lot of trouble and no one drinks it. Some people have no consideration for common folk."

Olympia stood beside Jared and watched as Mrs. Pettigrew's coachman clambered down from his perch to usher the two women into an elegant new landau. The twin folding hoods of the carriage had been raised, even though the weather was very fine that afternoon.

Mrs. Pettigrew stepped into the vehicle, followed closely by Mrs. Norbury. The coachman closed the door.

A scream echoed across the garden.

"God save us," yelped Mrs. Norbury. "There's something in here. Open the door. Open the door."

"Get us out of here, you dolt," Mrs. Pettigrew shouted to her coachman.

The coachman hurried to open the carriage door. Mrs. Pettigrew leaped from the landau. Mrs. Norbury was not far behind.

Olympia heard the unmistakable rivit-rivit of several frogs. Through the open carriage door she could see what appeared to be at least half a dozen of the creatures hopping about inside the landau.

"Remove those horrible creatures at once," Mrs. Pettigrew ordered. "Get them out or you will be dismissed immediately, George."

"Yes, ma'am." George took off his hat and frantically began scooping frogs off the cushions.

Olympia watched the confusion in the drive with a sense of growing trepidation. Between the croaking frogs, the swearing of the coachman, Mrs. Norbury's cries of dismay, and Mrs. Pettigrew's venomous glances, she sensed impending disaster.

Jared watched it all with a small, quiet smile.

When the last of the frogs had been evicted from the landau and Mrs. Pettigrew and the vicar's wife installed instead, Olympia turned at last to look at Jared.

"What became of the geometry lesson?"

"It was temporarily put aside in favor of a lesson in natural history," Jared said.

"When was that decision made?"

"When Robert, Hugh, and Ethan saw the Pettigrew carriage pull into the drive a short while ago."

"I was afraid of that," Olympia said.

"There is no great harm done," Jared said. "I believe all of the frogs have survived. They shall find their way back to the pond."

"Mr. Chillhurst, you have no notion of the harm that has been done. Matters could not be worse." Olympia turned away in despair and walked back into the library.

Chapter 4 | Deception | Chapter 6