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Sir Charles Spencer was a happy man, a man truly content with his life. Approaching fifty, he could look back on decades of success in both his personal and professional lives. About to become the senior partner in one of London’s most respected firms of solicitors, newly married and infatuated with a very beautiful and very young wife, and in excellent health and finances, Sir Charles had much to be content with.

It hadn’t always been that way. In his youth even his friends had deemed him self-involved and shallow, with little interest beyond the immediate fulfilment of his wants and desires. And seldom were those wants and desires fully met, for he had been quite a spoiled young man, always ready to feel resentment at being denied or delayed or made to work for any slightest part of whatever whim was foremost in his mind at any given moment.

There had been cheap women aplenty then, though never quite tall enough, or quite busty enough, or quite pretty enough, or with enough spirit or eagerness or deference, awe and reverence for his esteemed self. There had been century old wines which had not quite matched the anticipation of his palate, dinners created by the finest chefs in Europe which had been, to his mind, undercooked or uninspired, fast cars which were not fast enough, and drugs which never quite delivered the experience he had hoped for.

Charles Spencer had been, in his youth, an arrogant, conceited young man who was almost impossible to please. But his youth was thirty years gone (or perhaps fifteen, depending on whose opinion one sought), and now Sir Charles was a man much respected by both his peers and society at large; or at least, that portion of society which mattered.

Sir Charles was, after all, still quite an arrogant and conceited man. He had long forgotten the excesses, errors and misjudgements of his youth and was quick to judge and pronounce on similar misbehaviour of the youth of today; or indeed, of anyone of any age. Now with some grey beginning to appear in his dark brown hair Sir Charles looked about him at society and found it greatly wanting, lacking the notions of respect, honour, dignity and morality he believed proper.

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