On the day that Tata Sous-sus was escorted from her imprisonment, the sun was shining so brightly that she feared it would scorch her flesh and leave her blind. In light of this concern, her maid deployed a parasol above her head. In addition to her long white gown, Tata wore a kerchief to protect her hair and gloves over her hands. Thanks to a fine, muslin veil, not even her face was exposed to the elements. To the gawking crowds, she resembled nothing so much as a ghostly wraith.
“What’ve they done to that poor woman?” Said one common fishwife, pointing at Tata as she was led on foot to Her Majesty’s Court of Common Pleas, an imposing building of red brick with bars over the windows. Tata paused at the foot of the steps, turned around and waved. “God bless you!” Shouted her many well-wishers, mostly women of a certain age who, more often than not, were widowed or abandoned. “Pray for me!” Shouted Tata in return. “Please pray for me!”
Lady Greenmeadow was dead. Le margrave du Port was being held in the North Tower for her murder. The prime minister, devastated at the loss of his niece, had locked himself in his room in the palace, refusing all sustenance except for wine. Red wine. Lots of it. The entire Court was rocked by the scandal. It was all anybody could talk about. Why had he done it? While the thick-necked margrave protested his innocence, nobody believed him. There was no doubt about it. He would hang.
Pirouette had taken the news with horror. She’d never liked Lady Greenmeadow. In fact, in many ways she considered her ladyship to be her nemesis. Nevertheless, she would never wish such a fate on anyone. She would pray for the peaceful repose of the victim’s immortal soul. In truth, she found the margrave’s guilt hard to swallow and she couldn’t help but wonder if someone very close to herself was actually the culprit.