Meanwhile, there was just as much rivalry between the middle-aged characters. Gone were Mrs. Winters’ tears, replaced by a fiery temper that Alexandra had never seen her mistress use before.
It must be the acting; like a head-cold, it catches and shows itself in no time.
“You murderer!” Forgetting the smartest of decorum, she lunged as far as she could across the table towards Azura, held back only by the surprisingly-authoritative words of Mr. Stones.
“Stop it. She may not have done anything. She’s only trying to make ends meet for her children,” he said, scowling across at both the pair of children and the pair of adults.
However, Mr. Stones tried to be kindly too; he stretched out his hands in Azura’s direction, but she pulled away. The anger in her eyes deepened at their actions.
“Oh, be quiet. I don’t need your pity. Or the type of help that you would be offering, Mr. Stones.”
“You did ask me for help, of sorts. You asked me for money.”
“Perhaps that may be true. At least I, however, have the sensibility to ask nicely. Whereas you are so pitiful-”
“Silence!” Mr. Winters’ booming voice echoed through the busy room. Alexandra had only heard him use it once, a particularly drear day, to the footman. The young boy had smashed a set of the master’s best china plates whilst helping a pretty young maid to carry them to the dining room. He had also managed to break the lock on the master bedroom whilst behaving recklessly. So, Mr. Winters had quickly lost his temper, releasing all the pent-up fury towards the scared footman, who had subsequently lost his job. That was, indeed, the last of the footmen to be seen at the Winters’ manor.
Alexandra wondered what Mr. Winters would do if he knew about the various men who had courted his daughter.
“Rhaïd, was there something you wanted to say for the defence or accusation of Ms. Peterson?”
"Why do I seem to you to be something that I do not claim to be? By which chance have I become a lawyer, or a judge between these two fellows?” Rhaïd responded with slight cheek.
“Well, after two deaths, of course we are all shaken, especially as the fact is that the murderer is amongst our company,” replied Mr. Winters, as his way of an explanation. “Ms. Peterson, what do you have to say to the claims that it is you?”
Azura just glared.
“I think that this is unfair to an extreme point. You accuse me of something I did not do, merely because of a misled agreement, an overheard argument, and grudge that was made against me.” Azura’s eyes were still hard and focused, but her voice contained angst to be believed.
Alexandra felt pity spring to her heart and, though uncertain whether she should, found herself feeling compassionate towards the actress. Although she could weave characters out of thin air, Alexandra detected a note of true passion in the actress’ ways. Perhaps she had been through more in her ‘real’ life than she had previously revealed.