A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell #1)

After all, I might not intend to use him for a plaything, but I could still appreciate looking through the toy-shop window.

As a scientist I rebelled against the disorder, and I had long since discovered that nothing thwarted the mental processes like clutter.

Aunt Nell used to say it was not decent to have violet eyes, that they were a telltale sign of bad nature, like ginger hair or a hunchback.

Before I could ask, he caught sight of the garment in my hand. “In the name of bleeding Jesus, what are you sewing? Is that my shirt?” “It is, and I must say, it is in a deplorable state. But at least the material is quite good and will stand up to proper mending. Unfortunately, mending is not one of my skills,” I said, holding up the shirt. Somehow I had managed to attach it to my own skirt, and I took up scissors to snip it free.

Everyone has a capacity for cruelty. Not everyone gets the chance to exercise it.

Except for my net, everything I have need of in the world is contained in that bag—including a second hat and a rather sizable jar of cold cream of roses. Do not tell me you couldn’t travel with as little. I have faith that men can be as reasonable and logical as women if they but try.” He shook his head. “I cannot seem to formulate a clear thought in the face of such original thinking, Miss Speedwell. You have a high opinion of your sex.” I pursed my lips. “Not all of it. We are, as a gender, undereducated and infantilized to the point of idiocy. But those of us who have been given the benefit of learning and useful occupation, well, we are proof that the traditional notions of feminine delicacy and helplessness are the purest poppycock.”

“You have large opinions for so small a person.”

“I daresay they would be large opinions even for someone your size,” I countered.

“And where did you form these opinions? Either your school was inordinately progressive or your governess was a Radical.”

“I never went to school, nor did I have a governess. Books were my tutors, Mr. Stoker. Anything I wished to learn I taught myself.”

“There are limits to an autodidactic education,” he pointed out.

“Few that I have found. I was spared the prejudices of formal educators."

“And neither were you inspired by them. A good teacher can change the course of a life,” he said thoughtfully.

“Perhaps. But I had complete intellectual freedom. I studied those subjects which interested me—to the point of obsession at times—and spent precious little time on things which did not.”

“Such as?”

“Music and needlework. I am astonishingly lacking in traditional feminine accomplishments.”

He cocked his head. “I am not entirely astonished.” But his tone was mild, and I accepted the statement as nothing like an insult. In fact, it felt akin to a compliment. “And I must confess that between Jane Austen and Fordyce’s Sermons, I have developed a general antipathy for clergymen. And their wives,” I added, thinking of Mrs. Clutterthorpe. “Well, in that we may be agreed. Tell me, do you find many people to share your views?”
“Shockingly few,” I admitted.


He considered that a moment, rolling the sweet over his tongue. "There are times when it is entirely safe to show one's vulnerability, to roll over and reveal the soft underbelly beneath. But there are other times when pain must be borne without a murmur, when the pain is so consuming that if you give in to it, even in the slightest, you have lost everything.

He gave me a look that was almost pitying, and when he smiled it was the smile of a vengeful god. "My dear Veronica, I am suprised you have not already learned -- everyone has a capacity for cruelty. Not everyone gets the chance to exercise it.

I abhorred weakness of any kind but most particularly in my tea.

I am an adult person who is not answerable to children.

I am quite determined to be mistress of my own fate, Mrs. Clutterthorpe, but I do sympathize with how strange it must sound to you. It is not your fault that you are entirely devoid of imagination. I blame your education

I felt in this new adventure I was rousing to life again. I was a butterfly, newly emerged from the chrysalis, damp winged and trembling with expectation.

I have often regretted my speech, never my silence.’” “A

In my experience it is far better to tell a man what he wants to hear then do as you please, than attempt to reason with him.

I would have appreciated the satisfaction of a carnal paroxysm—in my experience, they bring a sparkle to the eye as well as brightness to the complexion and a spring to the step—but using Stoker to achieve that end was a means I could not begin to contemplate.

Mrs. Clutterthorpe, I can hardly think of any fate worse than becoming the mother of six ... unless perhaps it were plague.

Mrs. Clutterthorpe, I can hardly think of any fate worse than becoming the mother of six. Unless perhaps it were plague, and even then I am persuaded a few disfiguring buboes and possible death would be preferable to motherhood.

One cannot innovate new improvements without understanding old failures.

One may be elegant or enthusiastic, but seldom both. If

O, the perfidy of men.” “What have I done?” he protested. “Nothing at present, but you are the only representative of your sex I have at hand to abuse. Take your lumps for your brothers.

Should I be in distress? In a meadow? You mean if the cows organize some sort of attack? I have extensive experience with cows. They almost never do that.” “Forget

That is the hallmark of a good partnership, you know - when one partner sees the forest and the other studies the trees.

The man whirled, his hands still gripping the animal's skin, his face perfectly illuminated by the fire. He was half in shadow, and the shadow revealed him slowly. His left eye was covered by a black leather patch, and thin white scar raked his brow and the cheekbone below. The carried on, down the length of his neck, into the thick black beard, twisting under his collarbone and around his torso. They marred only the skin, I noted, for the muscles beneath were whole and strong, and the entire impression was one of great vitality and energy, strength unbridled. He looked nothing so much as a fallen god working at a trade.

"Hephaestus at the forge," I murmured, recalling my mythology....

the scars were commentary to his courage,

The truth is a hard mirror, and I am in no mood to look upon my reflection.

We are mere humans, Veronica. We are destined to prefer beauty to ugliness.” His

Why, that is most intriguing. A lady scientist," he said in a tone of wonderment. "What will they think of next?

You must engage in horizontal refreshment. It isn’t healthy to congest oneself like that.