Home > How To Marry A Werewolf (Claw & Courtship #1)(4)

How To Marry A Werewolf (Claw & Courtship #1)(4)
Author: Gail Carriger

The younger of the two bustled over, approaching Faith with a sweet smile and eager step. Her face looked a little as if it had lost a bet with a chipmunk over the ability to stuff food into its cheeks, then got stuck. She had the rosy glow of the very robust or the overindulgent. Faith assumed, by her age (which was near Faith’s own), that it was the former.

“Miss Wigglesworth?” the stranger said, eyes inquiring under a daring turban-style hat.

Faith smiled back, prepared to like this unknown cousin, who did not seem at all reluctant to meet her. Maybe she has not learned of my disgrace.

“Yes. Are you Miss Iftercast?” Faith offered her hand to shake.

The young lady (who might or might not be Miss Iftercast) looked at the proffered hand in confusion. Then suddenly brightened. “Oh, dear me, no, we don’t do that here in London. No offense, of course, cultural differences and all that rot. Now, where were we? Oh, yes, I am indeed Miss Iftercast. Only, could we not do that bit? I mean to say I am jolly delighted to make your acquaintance at last, dearest cousin! I’m determined we shall be fast friends. Your given name is Faith, is it not? Tell me, may I call you Faith right away? It’s such a lovely name.”

Miss Iftercast had a pleasant breathy way of speaking and an accent only slightly less toothy and properly British than that of the unpleasant vampire. Faith was beginning to think this was the vocal styling of the uppermost crust of London society.

Faith, who hated her name, could not but respond to such warmth. It had been ages since anyone had actually been happy to see her. She was practically moved to tears. Especially after such an aggravating and embarrassing encounter over her rocks. Miss Iftercast had barely even glanced at the split skirts, either. It was a miracle welcome.

Faith marshaled her resources. “Feel free. And you are Theodora, I think. Yes?”

“Yes, I mean no. I mean to say, that’s my proper name, but everyone calls me Teddy. And you simply must call me Teddy, too. Oh, I do adore your accent, it’s divine.”

“My accent? Oh, but it is you who have such a way of speaking vowels. So calming.”

Teddy gave a tinkling laugh. “Mums says I’m too posh for words after they sent me to finishing school. And I said, well, what did they expect, wasting my time with elocution lessons when I could have been riding? I’m a great horse enthusiast, you see? And I can hunt like anything. Mums says I’m too sporting by half – overly horsey. Do you ride?”

Faith blinked under this diatribe. “Yes, I sure do. Although I’m not as good as you, I suspect.”

“That’s quite all right, no one is.” Teddy’s grin took the bragging out of the words. “Daddy says I’m a holy terror. I’m always challenging my beastly brothers to race hither and thither, which of course I shouldn’t now that I’m out and all grown up and on the marriage mart. I mean to say, what man would want a girl who can out-jump him at a mark?”

“A gentleman in possession of a large stable?” suggested Faith.

Teddy chuckled. “Oh, you are droll!”

Faith wished to make it clear from the start that she would hold her own, defend her friends, and be unswerving in her opinions. So, she added, “I think that any man who felt threatened because you could outride him is too fragile in his self-confidence to warrant a single second of your attention.”

Teddy glowed. “Oh, we are going to get along splendidly! I’ve no sisters, you see. Surrounded by beastly brothers all my life. I cannot wait to have you stay with us. Charles is away on the Grand Tour, which will mean even numbers in the house at last!”

“Theodora, darling, sweetheart,” called the voice of the older woman who could only be Mrs Iftercast. “Do bring our dear cousin along now. Do not keep her chatting out in the cold. She must be perfectly exhausted. All that horrible floating about.”

Teddy whirled and linked her arm with Faith’s. “Oh, how silly of me, so inconsiderate. You will learn soon enough that I am rather of an enthusiastic nature and I sometimes forget myself in my excitement. You seem more reserved. Or is that the shock of meeting me?” Teddy wore a dark brown velvet walking dress with embroidered daisies about the skirt and sleeves. She was much shorter than Faith, but bouncy with it. Sturdy and fit as opposed to slender. Probably all that riding. Her waist was trim, displayed admirably by a wide white sash. Or maybe that was an illusion made manifest by her sleeves, which were truly enormous. They brushed against Faith’s elbow as they moved together towards the Isopod.

“I think you’re adorable,” said Faith, honestly.

Teddy beamed at her and then presented her to her mother. “Mums! This is Faith. She’s a corker. I’ll just go see the luggage stored and join you inside.” She disappeared around the side of the conveyance with Minnie in her wake.

Faith’s maid paused. “Should I rescue the case this time, miss?”

Faith shook her head. “No, thanks, Minnie. I’m sure it’ll be fine now.”

“Yes, miss.”

Mrs Iftercast helped settle Faith inside the Isopod. It proved to be as flashy inside as out, with velvet-covered seats and the latest crank windows. Mrs Iftercast had the same open, friendly, rosy-cheeked visage as her daughter, only with wrinkles. Her hair was the same light brown, only with streaks of grey. He eyes were the same merry coffee color. She did not, however, seem to talk as much.

“How do you do, my dear? Welcome to London. Was your passage perfectly ghastly?”

Faith smiled and shook her head. “It was nice, actually. I like floating.”

Mrs Iftercast shuddered. “Sooner you than me. Has my girl talked your ear off already? She is a terrible nuisance.” This was said in tones of great affection.

“She’s big on riding, I understand?”


“We all have our interests. I myself collect rocks.” Faith thought that, given what had so recently occurred, she should make this clear from the start.

Mrs Iftercast did not look at all shocked. “Do you indeed? How novel. Well, that, at least, you can keep under wraps. Theodora will insist, the moment an outing is suggested, that she ride, that she ride well, and that she challenge anyone willing to a race. Rocks, at least, are less arduous in public.”

“I see what you mean. I don’t need to mention them at all and I can collect in comparative privacy. Although occasionally, on a picnic, you may find me drifting about and pocketing a sample.”

“There, you see? I can already tell you will be far less troublesome than my harridan of a daughter.” Which answered that question. These distant relations clearly knew nothing of Faith’s indiscretion, disgrace, and subsequent humiliation. The Atlantic was more vast than Faith had realized. Or these relations were much more distant.

Teddy rejoined them and Minnie climbed in behind her.

Faith asked, “How exactly are you related to me, again, Mrs Iftercast? Mother didn’t say.”

Mrs Iftercast frowned. “You know, I am not entirely certain. I believe your father is my husband’s second or third cousin.”

Teddy nodded. “Something like that.” She tapped the ceiling of the conveyance with the handle of her parasol. “Steam on, James!”

The machine rumbled to life around them with a hissing sound so loud, it made conversation impossible, until moments later, they were humming through the park. Faith tried not to gawp out the window. Land’s sake, she thought, these relations of mine must be rich. What an impressive way to travel!

Teddy asked, “Was the depuffing smooth? We have had these horrible winds lately.”

“Very.” Faith smiled at her. “Although there was something going on at the embarkation area when I landed. BUR was there. I think it’s called BUR.”

Teddy’s eyes sparkled with interest. “They were investigating something nefarious? Oh, were they there to catch some malcontent? Was it a crime of some kind? A murder? An unsanctioned feeding, perhaps?”

Faith shook her head. “I don’t think so. They were looking for some kind of object. They took my specimen case away from me, and opened it, and displayed the contents in front of everyone.”

“Oh, how horrible! What an abysmal welcome for you, poor child. I shall write a sternly worded letter of complaint to the government as soon as we get home.” Mrs Iftercast was clearly upset on Faith’s behalf.

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