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Vanessa Ashley felt herself qualified for a position as governess, until offered the position at Falconbridge Hall. Left penniless after the deaths of her artist father and suffragette mother, Vanessa Ashley draws on her knowledge of art, politics and history to gain employment as a governess. She discovers that Julian, Lord Falconbridge, requires a governess for his ten-year-old daughter Blyth at Falconbridge Hall, a huge rambling mansion in the countryside outside London. Lord Falconbridge is a scientist and dedicated lepidopterist who is about to embark on an extended expedition to the Amazon in search of exotic butterflies. An enigmatic man, he takes a keen interest in his daughter's education, but Vanessa feels that he may disapprove of her modern methods. As she prepares her young charge to enter into the modern world, Vanessa finds the girl detached and aloof. As Vanessa learns more about Falconbridge Hall, more questions arise. Why doesn't Blythe feel safe in her own home? Why is the death of her mother, once famed society beauty Clara, never spoken of? And why did the former governess leave so suddenly without giving notice?
A full moon painted the gardens in a chiaroscuro of deep purple and pewter. She hurried along expecting sprites to emerge to dance amongst the trees on such a magical night. Would he be pleased? Her heart beat fast with the anticipation of seeing his handsome face. The lake was liquid silver, smooth and calm.
The folly awaited. She began to quote from her favorite poem. “And by the moon the reaper weary, piling sheaves in uplands airy, listening, whispers, ‘’Tis the fairy Lady of Shalott.”
A man appeared at the top of the steps. “What have you got there?”
She held up her prize.