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“Do not get carried away, Mariah,” Walter said. “A man like that is usually up to no good. P-poets cannot be trusted. T-their words are pretty but their intentions are not.”

“And how many poets do you know personally, Walter?” I asked pertly. “You cannot condemn the whole lot from some silly rumors swirling up from London. I am sure there are perfectly good explanations for the more lurid details from those stories.”

“D-do you intend to ask him?”

I considered the question before nodding. “Yes. Yes, I believe I will when afforded my next opportunity to speak with him.”

“No, Mariah, do not!” Walter said, stammer disappearing with the vehemence of his emotions. “Stay clear of Byron. I d-do not wish to see you or y-your reputation sullied!”

“I appreciate your concern, Walter, but I can handle any situation put before me quite nicely, thank you very much.”

Walter grimaced, looking as if he wished to say more. After several moments of silent shelving, he found the words. “I-I read the society pages, t-too, Mariah. I-I know what they say of Byron in London. D-do you truly want to be caught up in that? D-do you want to see your name splashed across those pages and p-people whispering about you like they do Lady Caroline Lamb?”

"Oh, Walter, do not be silly," I admonished. "No one whispers about Lady Caroline Lamb. They talk quite openly."

Praise for Molly Zenk

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