Chapter 18, Part 2

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But Simon was not such a man. His loyalty was first and foremost to his sovereign, and despite his growing feelings for her, he would do his duty with little hesitation. It broke her heart to think that his feelings for her might fade, even a little, when he left.

She was shaken from her thoughts when Lucien rose to his feet.

“It grows late,” he said. “We must journey at dawn, so I will say good night to you all.”

Thea rose at his words, bidding all at the table a good night as she took her husband’s arm. Simon stood next, and Evelyn felt a sharp pain in her heart, wishing so much to delay the inevitable. If she let him go now, he would leave her at her door, perhaps with a kiss. He would say good night, and she would go to her bed, where she would have to endure sleeplessness...and eventually, the cruel coming of dawn. It was too much to bear. Reaching out, she grasped Simon’s hand, uncertain of what to say to him...but unable to let him go. She searched her mind for something, some reason to keep him.

“Simon, will you walk with me? Please?”

He seemed curious, offering her a slight smile. Before he could question her, she found her incentive.

“It seems to be a clear night. Before I go to bed, I would like to look at the stars.”

His smile grew. “And you would like me to accompany you?”

She felt a great sense of relief at his question. He would not leave her yet. And she replied, with a loving expression...

“I would be so pleased.”

*****

The night was clear and without a moon, allowing the stars to shine brightly. Walking side by side, Evelyn and Simon moved in silence, neither knowing just what to say. Looking to the sky for inspiration, she spoke softly.

“I have always loved the night. The moonlight when it shines, and the brilliance of the heavens when filled with starlight, like now.”

“There is something of you in those stars,” he declared. “Are you aware of it?”

A smile came to her lips. Warmth flooded her. “You flatter, my lord. To compare me with such a wonder.”

“Tis more than mere compliment,” he said. “You play the lyre, do you not? Are you not familiar with its place in the heavens?”

She shook her head. They were in the garden now, walking slowly. As they came to an alcove, he paused.

“Here,” he said. “We have found a seat. Sit beside me, and I will tell you of it.”

She did not hesitate. He seemed eager to please her. She wondered...and hoped...if he wished to take pleasure in these last hours together. Sitting beside him, she moved close, enough so she could feel the warmth flowing from him. When he began, his words were enthralling, spoken with such eloquence and beauty. With a poised hand, confident in the story he was telling, he gestured towards the night sky.

“It is perhaps difficult to see without the aid of a chart. But there, in the southern sky, is a collection of stars called Lyra, which represents the lyre played by Orpheus.”

Evelyn smiled. “Orpheus was the son of Apollo and the muse Calliope.”

There was a note of surprise in his voice. “You know of the tale?”

“Only vaguely,” was her reply. His surprise was not unexpected. Men were the recipients of nearly all learning. Though she was eager to know more of everything the world could offer, her education had been quite limited. But now, looking at Simon, she saw the opportunity to share the wisdom of men.

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