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1

In Which Liza’s
Circumstances Change for
the Worse

Liz a h u ddl ed in the armchair near the window, her


mother’s shawl wrapped tightly around her shoulders.
Despite the fire, she couldn’t seem to get warm. The
blinds were drawn against the morning’s winter light.
It shouldn’t be sunny.
There was a discreet knock at the door. A maid in
a black dress with a white apron entered, carrying a
meal on a tray. “Miss Liza, you mustn’t shut yourself
away like this. It’s not like you.” With a quick motion,
she deposited the tray and jerked the blinds open. Liza
blinked and held up a hand to shade her eyes.
“Cora!”
“With all due respect to your bereaved state, Miss,
the staff is beginning to talk,” Cora scolded. “This is no
1

In Which Liza’s
Circumstances Change for
the Worse

Liz a h u ddl ed in the armchair near the window, her


mother’s shawl wrapped tightly around her shoulders.
Despite the fire, she couldn’t seem to get warm. The
blinds were drawn against the morning’s winter light.
It shouldn’t be sunny.
There was a discreet knock at the door. A maid in
a black dress with a white apron entered, carrying a
meal on a tray. “Miss Liza, you mustn’t shut yourself
away like this. It’s not like you.” With a quick motion,
she deposited the tray and jerked the blinds open. Liza
blinked and held up a hand to shade her eyes.
“Cora!”
“With all due respect to your bereaved state, Miss,
the staff is beginning to talk,” Cora scolded. “This is no
10 P R I S O N E R S I N T H E PALAC E In Which Liza’s Circumstances Change for the Worse 11

life for a young lady such as you. Go out of doors, put some color For the first time, she looked at her luxurious hotel suite and
back in those cheeks.” realized it must be expensive. Two bedrooms, a sitting room, meals
“There’s nothing for me outside.” on trays, a maid . . . it all cost.
The hotel suite had been her refuge since the day she had walked Did Mr. Ratisbon include the hotel in his list of creditors? She
behind the black carriage drawn by four black horses and watched the would be a thief if she slept here another night or ate another meal.
shovelfuls of black earth rain down on her parents’ coffins. And now How could she afford to pay for Cora?
what? Her family had come to London to join society. But without What on earth am I to do?
Mama’s letters of introduction, there would be no welcome for Liza Liza began to pace. “How could you do this, Papa?” she whis-
in the best homes. There would be no glittering season followed by a pered to the sumptuous room. “You and Mama were my whole
brilliant marriage. She was alone in a strange country; she had neither world. How could you leave me with nothing?”
friends nor family. When her parents’ cabriolet had plunged into The crinkle of paper in her hand recalled her to the last para-
the Serpentine a fortnight ago, it had desolated Liza’s life too. graph of Mr. Ratisbon’s letter. Her heart beat faster. After inform-
“I have a letter for you,” Cora said enticingly. ing her she had lost everything, the lawyer presented her with the
Hiding her face in the protective wing of the chair, Liza’s answer opportunity of a lifetime.
was muffled. “Leave it on the table.” “Cora!”
“The notation says ‘Urgent.’” “Miss?”
Liza peeked out from under the shawl. “Who sent it?” “I have to get dressed! I’m to go to court!” Liza exclaimed,
A satisfied smile spread across Cora’s face. “I don’t know.” She waving the letter. “More precisely, I have an interview at half past
handed Liza the letter. “Look for yourself.” one o’clock to be a lady in waiting.”
Liza stood up and brought the letter to the window. “It’s from Cora’s eyes widened. “To the Queen?”
Papa’s lawman, Mr. Ratisbon.” “No, to the Princess Victoria at Kensington Palace.”
Cora’s bright smile dimmed. “I never knew good news to come “Court is where the King is, Miss Liza,” Cora corrected. “But the
from a lawyer.” She picked up Liza’s dressing gown from the floor little Princess is just as good. She’ll be the Queen someday. I saw
and bustled into the bedroom. ’er once, picnicking with ’er mother, the Duchess, in ’yde Park. She’s
Liza broke the seal and began reading the letter half aloud. ever so pretty.”
“Assets . . . liens . . . five hundred pounds owed? . . . creditors . . . “She’s not so little, I read in the broadsheets she’s sixteen, a year
legal action. . . . Oh my goodness.” She sank back into her chair. younger than I,” Liza said. “If I suit her, I’m to live at Kensington
“Papa left nothing? Less than nothing.” Her breathing was shallow Palace.”
as if her lungs had shrunk along with her expectations. “How am I “Your good mother would have been proud.” Cora’s face fell
to live?” when she saw Liza’s stricken expression. “I’m sorry, Miss.”
10 P R I S O N E R S I N T H E PALAC E In Which Liza’s Circumstances Change for the Worse 11

life for a young lady such as you. Go out of doors, put some color For the first time, she looked at her luxurious hotel suite and
back in those cheeks.” realized it must be expensive. Two bedrooms, a sitting room, meals
“There’s nothing for me outside.” on trays, a maid . . . it all cost.
The hotel suite had been her refuge since the day she had walked Did Mr. Ratisbon include the hotel in his list of creditors? She
behind the black carriage drawn by four black horses and watched the would be a thief if she slept here another night or ate another meal.
shovelfuls of black earth rain down on her parents’ coffins. And now How could she afford to pay for Cora?
what? Her family had come to London to join society. But without What on earth am I to do?
Mama’s letters of introduction, there would be no welcome for Liza Liza began to pace. “How could you do this, Papa?” she whis-
in the best homes. There would be no glittering season followed by a pered to the sumptuous room. “You and Mama were my whole
brilliant marriage. She was alone in a strange country; she had neither world. How could you leave me with nothing?”
friends nor family. When her parents’ cabriolet had plunged into The crinkle of paper in her hand recalled her to the last para-
the Serpentine a fortnight ago, it had desolated Liza’s life too. graph of Mr. Ratisbon’s letter. Her heart beat faster. After inform-
“I have a letter for you,” Cora said enticingly. ing her she had lost everything, the lawyer presented her with the
Hiding her face in the protective wing of the chair, Liza’s answer opportunity of a lifetime.
was muffled. “Leave it on the table.” “Cora!”
“The notation says ‘Urgent.’” “Miss?”
Liza peeked out from under the shawl. “Who sent it?” “I have to get dressed! I’m to go to court!” Liza exclaimed,
A satisfied smile spread across Cora’s face. “I don’t know.” She waving the letter. “More precisely, I have an interview at half past
handed Liza the letter. “Look for yourself.” one o’clock to be a lady in waiting.”
Liza stood up and brought the letter to the window. “It’s from Cora’s eyes widened. “To the Queen?”
Papa’s lawman, Mr. Ratisbon.” “No, to the Princess Victoria at Kensington Palace.”
Cora’s bright smile dimmed. “I never knew good news to come “Court is where the King is, Miss Liza,” Cora corrected. “But the
from a lawyer.” She picked up Liza’s dressing gown from the floor little Princess is just as good. She’ll be the Queen someday. I saw
and bustled into the bedroom. ’er once, picnicking with ’er mother, the Duchess, in ’yde Park. She’s
Liza broke the seal and began reading the letter half aloud. ever so pretty.”
“Assets . . . liens . . . five hundred pounds owed? . . . creditors . . . “She’s not so little, I read in the broadsheets she’s sixteen, a year
legal action. . . . Oh my goodness.” She sank back into her chair. younger than I,” Liza said. “If I suit her, I’m to live at Kensington
“Papa left nothing? Less than nothing.” Her breathing was shallow Palace.”
as if her lungs had shrunk along with her expectations. “How am I “Your good mother would have been proud.” Cora’s face fell
to live?” when she saw Liza’s stricken expression. “I’m sorry, Miss.”
12 P R I S O N E R S I N T H E PALAC E In Which Liza’s Circumstances Change for the Worse 13

Liza rubbed her sore eyes. “You’re right, Cora. My mama would “But you have to wear your blacks, it’s disrespectful else,”
have been so pleased. This was all she ever dreamed of—but now Cora said.
she’ll never know.” She straightened her back and tilted her chin. “To honor Mama and Papa properly, I will,” Liza said. Tears
“We must pay particular attention to my toilette,” she said. “This rolled down her cheeks. She sighed; this had to stop. The Princess
appointment is the most important of my life.” would send her away if all she did was cry.
Liza carefully folded Mr. Ratisbon’s letter while Cora hurried Cora avoided looking at Liza’s face. She finished joining the
away to fetch Liza’s clothes. Liza ran her fingers across the crease, hooks and eyes at the back of the bodice. “That looks lovely,” she
thinking hard. What if she didn’t find favor with the Princess? Or said. “Your shape is ’ourglass perfection.”
rather, Her Highness’s governess, the Baroness Lehzen? Mr. Ratis- Taking a deep sniff, Liza pursed her lips and set her shoulders
bon said that the Baroness would make the decision. This interview back, fighting her tears. “With these huge sleeves and wide skirt,
must go well. It must. Liza had nowhere else to go. anyone would look like an hourglass.” But even as she said it, she
“Your black lace?” Cora asked from the bedroom. remembered laughing with her mother, discreetly of course, at the
“No! Not that . . . ” Liza’s voice faltered, but then she forced ladies who insisted on the latest styles even though they did not
herself to be practical. “Never mind, it’s the best I have, even if it have the natural tiny waist.
reminds me of terrible things.” “’Tis the fashion, Miss.” Cora’s voice was firm.
She slipped her dressing gown off her shoulders and stood in Liza said, “Fashion isn’t everything.” She swallowed past the
her chemise. Cora fastened a wide petticoat around her waist. lump in her throat; her mother would have swooned had she heard
“The corset?” Cora asked. Liza say such a thing. Fashion had been their consuming passion,
Mama would have insisted. “No,” Liza said, with a twinge of guilt. save for the opera and theater. But now Liza had more important
“It’s wretchedly uncomfortable.” concerns.
“Your waist is tiny enough as it is,” Cora said, fastening the dark “What about jewelry, Miss?” Cora asked briskly.
skirt around Liza’s middle. The black silk was heavy with fine lace- “My gold and enamel locket.” It contained a small length of her
work from Brussels. Liza remembered the rainy afternoon she and mother’s hair. “And the jet bracelet and pin. I must look my best.”
her mother had spent in the milliner’s shop poring over dozens of “A pretty girl like you is sure to please the Princess. They say she
styles. Cora buttoned the sleeves into the arm holes. They were ’as no friends ’er own age. You’d be a boon to ’er, you would.”
wide below the elbow but narrow at the shoulder. She tut-tutted, “I hope so.” Liza fastened a black bonnet on her head and
“This style looks more like a leg of mutton every season.” arranged the black ribbon to display becomingly in her blond curls.
Liza stared at her reflection in the mirror. “Mama always told me “It would be a boon for me to go where there are no memories.”
I looked washed out in dark colors.”
Z
12 P R I S O N E R S I N T H E PALAC E In Which Liza’s Circumstances Change for the Worse 13

Liza rubbed her sore eyes. “You’re right, Cora. My mama would “But you have to wear your blacks, it’s disrespectful else,”
have been so pleased. This was all she ever dreamed of—but now Cora said.
she’ll never know.” She straightened her back and tilted her chin. “To honor Mama and Papa properly, I will,” Liza said. Tears
“We must pay particular attention to my toilette,” she said. “This rolled down her cheeks. She sighed; this had to stop. The Princess
appointment is the most important of my life.” would send her away if all she did was cry.
Liza carefully folded Mr. Ratisbon’s letter while Cora hurried Cora avoided looking at Liza’s face. She finished joining the
away to fetch Liza’s clothes. Liza ran her fingers across the crease, hooks and eyes at the back of the bodice. “That looks lovely,” she
thinking hard. What if she didn’t find favor with the Princess? Or said. “Your shape is ’ourglass perfection.”
rather, Her Highness’s governess, the Baroness Lehzen? Mr. Ratis- Taking a deep sniff, Liza pursed her lips and set her shoulders
bon said that the Baroness would make the decision. This interview back, fighting her tears. “With these huge sleeves and wide skirt,
must go well. It must. Liza had nowhere else to go. anyone would look like an hourglass.” But even as she said it, she
“Your black lace?” Cora asked from the bedroom. remembered laughing with her mother, discreetly of course, at the
“No! Not that . . . ” Liza’s voice faltered, but then she forced ladies who insisted on the latest styles even though they did not
herself to be practical. “Never mind, it’s the best I have, even if it have the natural tiny waist.
reminds me of terrible things.” “’Tis the fashion, Miss.” Cora’s voice was firm.
She slipped her dressing gown off her shoulders and stood in Liza said, “Fashion isn’t everything.” She swallowed past the
her chemise. Cora fastened a wide petticoat around her waist. lump in her throat; her mother would have swooned had she heard
“The corset?” Cora asked. Liza say such a thing. Fashion had been their consuming passion,
Mama would have insisted. “No,” Liza said, with a twinge of guilt. save for the opera and theater. But now Liza had more important
“It’s wretchedly uncomfortable.” concerns.
“Your waist is tiny enough as it is,” Cora said, fastening the dark “What about jewelry, Miss?” Cora asked briskly.
skirt around Liza’s middle. The black silk was heavy with fine lace- “My gold and enamel locket.” It contained a small length of her
work from Brussels. Liza remembered the rainy afternoon she and mother’s hair. “And the jet bracelet and pin. I must look my best.”
her mother had spent in the milliner’s shop poring over dozens of “A pretty girl like you is sure to please the Princess. They say she
styles. Cora buttoned the sleeves into the arm holes. They were ’as no friends ’er own age. You’d be a boon to ’er, you would.”
wide below the elbow but narrow at the shoulder. She tut-tutted, “I hope so.” Liza fastened a black bonnet on her head and
“This style looks more like a leg of mutton every season.” arranged the black ribbon to display becomingly in her blond curls.
Liza stared at her reflection in the mirror. “Mama always told me “It would be a boon for me to go where there are no memories.”
I looked washed out in dark colors.”
Z
14 P R I S O N E R S I N T H E PALAC E In Which Liza’s Circumstances Change for the Worse 15

The lobby was filled with its usual denizens, well-to-do young Mr. Arbuthnot sat behind a too grand mahogany desk. Most dis-
ladies and their mothers and, on occasion, pompous fathers. Two courteously, he didn’t offer her a seat, but Liza’s legs were trembling
weeks ago Liza had been utterly at home here; she had grown up in so, she sank unbidden into the deep chair opposite him. Immedi-
fine hotels in the most elegant cities around the world. A murmur ately she regretted her choice; the chair dwarfed her petite frame
spread through the room when she appeared at the top of the stairs. and she felt like a small child.
Behind gloved hands or strategically held fans the ladies whispered, “Do you know why I’ve asked to see you?” he began.
speculating. Liza blushed. “You’d like to offer your condolences?” Liza asked hopefully.
Stop being self-centered, Liza. They can’t possibly know the money’s But she had spied a letter with Mr. Ratisbon’s handwriting on
gone. They are curious because I’ve been a hermit in my rooms this his desk; the manager would not be commiserating with her over
past fortnight. They can’t possibly know. her tragedy.
“Miss Hastings!” A peremptory voice drew every eye to her. It “Your account is in serious arrears, Miss Hastings.” He frowned
was Mr. Arbuthnot, the hotel’s manager. Though portly, he insisted and picked up the letter. “Your father’s solicitor tells me you have
on wearing gaudy vests that emphasized his girth. “Miss Hastings, I no fortune at all and no prospects,” he said as though it were
must speak to you about your account.” her fault.
Liza wished she could sink into the lush red carpet. Instead, she Two weeks ago, he had fallen over himself to indulge their every
took a breath and made one foot follow the other down the stairs. whim. Violets in winter? Of course, Lady Hastings. Seats to the opera
Now everyone was staring at her and she knew they weren’t admir- for Don Juan, starring the famous tenor Luigi Lablache? Consider it
ing the lace on her mourning dress. done, Miss Hastings. But his courtesies had a price.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Arbuthnot,” she said formally. “Mr. Arbuthnot, my father was a valued client of yours.”
Recalled to his manners, he said, “Of course. Good afternoon. “Indeed he was . . . when he was alive to pay his bills.”
May I speak to you in my private office, please?” Liza gasped. “How much is the amount outstanding?” she asked,
Liza looked for any possible reprieve, but his piggish, black eyes when she trusted her voice again.
were implacable. “Why, certainly, Mr. Arbuthnot, although I only “Forty-three pounds, two pence,” he said.
can spare you a few moments. I have an important appointment.” Liza recoiled as if from a blow to her body. Her gloved fingers
He led the way through the crowded lobby. Liza followed as twisted around the handle of her little reticule, which contained
slowly as she dared. Her father’s lawman had said she wasn’t respon- only a few pounds and a handful of change.
sible for her father’s debts. But did Mr. Arbuthnot know that? Per- “That is the amount due immediately,” he continued. “If you stay
haps the bailiffs were waiting to take her to debtor’s prison? another night, it will be more.”
Mr. Arbuthnot opened the door. Liza craned her neck to see past “Of course,” Liza said. “My parents would have—” she began
his bulk. Her knees weakened with relief; the room was empty. again.
14 P R I S O N E R S I N T H E PALAC E In Which Liza’s Circumstances Change for the Worse 15

The lobby was filled with its usual denizens, well-to-do young Mr. Arbuthnot sat behind a too grand mahogany desk. Most dis-
ladies and their mothers and, on occasion, pompous fathers. Two courteously, he didn’t offer her a seat, but Liza’s legs were trembling
weeks ago Liza had been utterly at home here; she had grown up in so, she sank unbidden into the deep chair opposite him. Immedi-
fine hotels in the most elegant cities around the world. A murmur ately she regretted her choice; the chair dwarfed her petite frame
spread through the room when she appeared at the top of the stairs. and she felt like a small child.
Behind gloved hands or strategically held fans the ladies whispered, “Do you know why I’ve asked to see you?” he began.
speculating. Liza blushed. “You’d like to offer your condolences?” Liza asked hopefully.
Stop being self-centered, Liza. They can’t possibly know the money’s But she had spied a letter with Mr. Ratisbon’s handwriting on
gone. They are curious because I’ve been a hermit in my rooms this his desk; the manager would not be commiserating with her over
past fortnight. They can’t possibly know. her tragedy.
“Miss Hastings!” A peremptory voice drew every eye to her. It “Your account is in serious arrears, Miss Hastings.” He frowned
was Mr. Arbuthnot, the hotel’s manager. Though portly, he insisted and picked up the letter. “Your father’s solicitor tells me you have
on wearing gaudy vests that emphasized his girth. “Miss Hastings, I no fortune at all and no prospects,” he said as though it were
must speak to you about your account.” her fault.
Liza wished she could sink into the lush red carpet. Instead, she Two weeks ago, he had fallen over himself to indulge their every
took a breath and made one foot follow the other down the stairs. whim. Violets in winter? Of course, Lady Hastings. Seats to the opera
Now everyone was staring at her and she knew they weren’t admir- for Don Juan, starring the famous tenor Luigi Lablache? Consider it
ing the lace on her mourning dress. done, Miss Hastings. But his courtesies had a price.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Arbuthnot,” she said formally. “Mr. Arbuthnot, my father was a valued client of yours.”
Recalled to his manners, he said, “Of course. Good afternoon. “Indeed he was . . . when he was alive to pay his bills.”
May I speak to you in my private office, please?” Liza gasped. “How much is the amount outstanding?” she asked,
Liza looked for any possible reprieve, but his piggish, black eyes when she trusted her voice again.
were implacable. “Why, certainly, Mr. Arbuthnot, although I only “Forty-three pounds, two pence,” he said.
can spare you a few moments. I have an important appointment.” Liza recoiled as if from a blow to her body. Her gloved fingers
He led the way through the crowded lobby. Liza followed as twisted around the handle of her little reticule, which contained
slowly as she dared. Her father’s lawman had said she wasn’t respon- only a few pounds and a handful of change.
sible for her father’s debts. But did Mr. Arbuthnot know that? Per- “That is the amount due immediately,” he continued. “If you stay
haps the bailiffs were waiting to take her to debtor’s prison? another night, it will be more.”
Mr. Arbuthnot opened the door. Liza craned her neck to see past “Of course,” Liza said. “My parents would have—” she began
his bulk. Her knees weakened with relief; the room was empty. again.
16 P R I S O N E R S I N T H E PALAC E In Which Liza’s Circumstances Change for the Worse 17

“The hotel is deeply sorry for their deaths, but even our gener­ With a sudden air of inspiration, Liza sat up straight saying,
osity has its limits. Have you no one to pay your debts?” “Perhaps I should throw myself on the mercy of your guests? Once
“As you know, we have only just arrived in London from Munich. I tell them the hotel is going to cast me out onto the street, some-
I know no one.” Liza struggled out of the chair. “As it happens, I one will help me.”
have an appointment this morning that will provide me with a new “You’ll do no such thing!” he snapped. “I’ve the hotel’s reputa-
home.” She smoothed out her full black skirt. “I will pack my trunks tion to think of.”
and leave as soon as possible.” “You have left me no choice,” Liza sniffed, dabbing at her eye
Mr. Arbuthnot’s fleshy lips quivered with impatience, “And with his cologne-laden handkerchief.
your account?” “Perhaps I could let you have one trunk with your personal
Liza’s stomach was full of angry butterflies. “I have no way to effects,” Mr. Arbuthnot grudgingly offered.
pay right now, but it will be settled,” she promised. “That would be exceedingly generous,” Liza said, hating the
“I don’t see how,” he replied, his tone snide. “But Claridge’s will necessity of sounding grateful.
not be the loser; I’m sure I can sell your personal chattel for at least “But the rest . . . ” he said.
some of what you owe.” “You may hold my other belongings until I pay the debt,” Liza
“You cannot!” Liza cried. interrupted.
“But I can.” He tapped the letter on his desk. “Ask your “For ninety days,” he countered. “Then I sell everything.”
solicitor.” “A twelvemonth at least. You must give me time to find my feet,
“You can’t sell my clothes to strangers! And certainly not my sir,” she said. Surely that would be time enough to make her fortune
mother’s jewelry and my father’s books . . . ” As Liza listed the other or at least to find a suitable husband at Kensington Palace.
possessions she could not bear to lose, her voice grew louder and “Half a year. And that’s my final offer.”
more shrill. “Thank you. I appreciate your kindness.” She stood up and
“Miss Hastings, calm yourself.” He stood up and made sure waited for him to remember to hold the door open for her. She was
the door was closed. “I’m the maitre d’hotel of the finest hotel in about to sweep through when she remembered another problem.
London, what will my paying guests think if they hear your cater- “One more thing,” she said.
wauling.” He shoved a handkerchief at her. “What?” he said sourly.
With so little money in her reticule, how could Liza buy some “I have a meeting at Kensington Palace, but I’ve no money to pay
time? Looking up at him from under her damp eyelashes, she said, for a hansom cab.”
“I’m so sorry, Mr. Arbuthnot, but I’m an orphan, at my wit’s end.” “You could walk.”
Mr. Arbuthnot shifted from foot to foot, his eyes looking every- “I could,” she mused. “But how would it reflect on Claridge’s? A
where but at Liza. “There’s nothing I can do.” young lady, walking unescorted through Hyde Park?”
16 P R I S O N E R S I N T H E PALAC E In Which Liza’s Circumstances Change for the Worse 17

“The hotel is deeply sorry for their deaths, but even our gener­ With a sudden air of inspiration, Liza sat up straight saying,
osity has its limits. Have you no one to pay your debts?” “Perhaps I should throw myself on the mercy of your guests? Once
“As you know, we have only just arrived in London from Munich. I tell them the hotel is going to cast me out onto the street, some-
I know no one.” Liza struggled out of the chair. “As it happens, I one will help me.”
have an appointment this morning that will provide me with a new “You’ll do no such thing!” he snapped. “I’ve the hotel’s reputa-
home.” She smoothed out her full black skirt. “I will pack my trunks tion to think of.”
and leave as soon as possible.” “You have left me no choice,” Liza sniffed, dabbing at her eye
Mr. Arbuthnot’s fleshy lips quivered with impatience, “And with his cologne-laden handkerchief.
your account?” “Perhaps I could let you have one trunk with your personal
Liza’s stomach was full of angry butterflies. “I have no way to effects,” Mr. Arbuthnot grudgingly offered.
pay right now, but it will be settled,” she promised. “That would be exceedingly generous,” Liza said, hating the
“I don’t see how,” he replied, his tone snide. “But Claridge’s will necessity of sounding grateful.
not be the loser; I’m sure I can sell your personal chattel for at least “But the rest . . . ” he said.
some of what you owe.” “You may hold my other belongings until I pay the debt,” Liza
“You cannot!” Liza cried. interrupted.
“But I can.” He tapped the letter on his desk. “Ask your “For ninety days,” he countered. “Then I sell everything.”
solicitor.” “A twelvemonth at least. You must give me time to find my feet,
“You can’t sell my clothes to strangers! And certainly not my sir,” she said. Surely that would be time enough to make her fortune
mother’s jewelry and my father’s books . . . ” As Liza listed the other or at least to find a suitable husband at Kensington Palace.
possessions she could not bear to lose, her voice grew louder and “Half a year. And that’s my final offer.”
more shrill. “Thank you. I appreciate your kindness.” She stood up and
“Miss Hastings, calm yourself.” He stood up and made sure waited for him to remember to hold the door open for her. She was
the door was closed. “I’m the maitre d’hotel of the finest hotel in about to sweep through when she remembered another problem.
London, what will my paying guests think if they hear your cater- “One more thing,” she said.
wauling.” He shoved a handkerchief at her. “What?” he said sourly.
With so little money in her reticule, how could Liza buy some “I have a meeting at Kensington Palace, but I’ve no money to pay
time? Looking up at him from under her damp eyelashes, she said, for a hansom cab.”
“I’m so sorry, Mr. Arbuthnot, but I’m an orphan, at my wit’s end.” “You could walk.”
Mr. Arbuthnot shifted from foot to foot, his eyes looking every- “I could,” she mused. “But how would it reflect on Claridge’s? A
where but at Liza. “There’s nothing I can do.” young lady, walking unescorted through Hyde Park?”
18 P R I S O N E R S I N T H E PALAC E In Which Liza’s Circumstances Change for the Worse 19

He snorted. “Miss Hastings, I think if you had been in charge and Papa to their deaths in the muddy waters of the Serpentine.
of your father’s business interests, there would be an estate worth Liza smiled at him, grateful for his thoughtfulness. With a practiced
inheriting.” hand, he helped her into the carriage.
Liza waited, her face impassive. As she sank down to the cushioned seat, Liza forced herself to
“Very well, I’ll pay the fare,” he said at last. “But first you pack breathe deeply. Her exhalation hung suspended in the chilly air,
your things. I have an Italian nobleman arriving this evening. He like a promise or a threat. Whatever the future held for her, it was
can afford to pay for your suite.” about to begin.

Z
When Liza came back downstairs, Mr. Arbuthnot was waiting for her.
He rushed forward to take her arm and shepherd her through the
crowded hall, and Liza rewarded him with a genuine smile. To her
surprise, she felt grateful to Mr. Arbuthnot’s for forcing her to pack
so quickly. She would have mourned every item: cried over every
glove, cufflink, and book had she more time. Instead, her single
trunk was bursting with her favorite things and clothes appropriate
for a grieving daughter.
Mr. Arbuthnot accompanied her to the door and instructed the
doorkeeper to pay for a hansom cab to Kensington Palace. Then
he turned on his heel and retreated to the comforts of London’s
finest hotel.
Liza was left standing with the doorkeeper, her eyes blinking
against the cold sunlight. He blew a shrill whistle and was answered
with the clip-clop of hooves and the rattle of a cabriolet driven by a
tiny man in an oversize greatcoat and battered tophat.
“Miss, it’s nice to see you taking the air again,” the doorman said
loudly. He lowered his booming voice. “I’ll ask the driver to take the
long way around, avoid the river.”
Liza swallowed. She had not considered that she might have
to cross the bridge where the horse had bolted, plunging Mama
18 P R I S O N E R S I N T H E PALAC E In Which Liza’s Circumstances Change for the Worse 19

He snorted. “Miss Hastings, I think if you had been in charge and Papa to their deaths in the muddy waters of the Serpentine.
of your father’s business interests, there would be an estate worth Liza smiled at him, grateful for his thoughtfulness. With a practiced
inheriting.” hand, he helped her into the carriage.
Liza waited, her face impassive. As she sank down to the cushioned seat, Liza forced herself to
“Very well, I’ll pay the fare,” he said at last. “But first you pack breathe deeply. Her exhalation hung suspended in the chilly air,
your things. I have an Italian nobleman arriving this evening. He like a promise or a threat. Whatever the future held for her, it was
can afford to pay for your suite.” about to begin.

Z
When Liza came back downstairs, Mr. Arbuthnot was waiting for her.
He rushed forward to take her arm and shepherd her through the
crowded hall, and Liza rewarded him with a genuine smile. To her
surprise, she felt grateful to Mr. Arbuthnot’s for forcing her to pack
so quickly. She would have mourned every item: cried over every
glove, cufflink, and book had she more time. Instead, her single
trunk was bursting with her favorite things and clothes appropriate
for a grieving daughter.
Mr. Arbuthnot accompanied her to the door and instructed the
doorkeeper to pay for a hansom cab to Kensington Palace. Then
he turned on his heel and retreated to the comforts of London’s
finest hotel.
Liza was left standing with the doorkeeper, her eyes blinking
against the cold sunlight. He blew a shrill whistle and was answered
with the clip-clop of hooves and the rattle of a cabriolet driven by a
tiny man in an oversize greatcoat and battered tophat.
“Miss, it’s nice to see you taking the air again,” the doorman said
loudly. He lowered his booming voice. “I’ll ask the driver to take the
long way around, avoid the river.”
Liza swallowed. She had not considered that she might have
to cross the bridge where the horse had bolted, plunging Mama