Marion was quiet at breakfast. Kristoph noticed that. Of course he did. He was a loving and attentive husband. He did his best to engage her in conversation. But her responses were tired and listless.

“If you’re still not feeling well, you should go back to bed, Marion,” he said. “Would you like me to call a physician?”

“The doctors on this planet don’t know anything about humans,” Marion replied.

“If you’re ill… I’ll fetch a doctor from Earth if I have to.”

“I’m not ill,” she responded. “There’s nothing for you to worry about. Go to your work. I’m going to have a quiet day.”

He looked at her for a long time. He noted that she was getting very good at hiding her thoughts from him. He told her that he could see through her mental walls, but that wasn’t always true.

He could have broken them down easily enough. He was trained to do so in the Celestial Intervention Agency. But she was his wife, not a traitor with guilty secrets.

“I’ll try to be home early,” he promised. “I’ve not had much time these past couple of weeks. You’ve a right to feel neglected.”

“I’m all right,” she insisted. “You don’t have to humour me.”

“Marion…” he began. Then he sighed. “We need to talk. But I can’t, now. Later, I promise.”

Yes, Marion thought. He would keep a promise like that. He would make the effort. He always did. He always knew when she was unhappy and tried to make it right.

But how could he do that when HE, himself, was the problem?

She went to the door and let him kiss her before he got into his official car and drove away. She turned and went inside. Caolin looked at her and seemed about to say something.

“Please, don’t,” she told him. “Don’t ask. I am… I am perfectly well. I know my husband will have given you instructions. But there is no need for you to be concerned about me. Is Rodan in the dayroom?”

“Yes, madam,” the butler answered.

“Then I will be in there for most of the morning, looking after my little girl.”

“Yes, madam,” Caolin repeated dutifully.

She walked away, then turned and looked at Caolin as he stood in the middle of the hallway. She walked back to him.

“I am sorry if I have seemed rude to you. This is none of your fault. You… are somebody I regard as a friend. I want you to know that.”

“I understand, madam,” he responded.

She went to her day room. She loved this private suite of rooms that was given over to her when she became Lady de Lœngbærrow. She enjoyed the touches of Earth life in the pictures on the walls, images of Liverpool, and of some of her favourite places outside of it. The sunset on Talacre Beach was a splash of warm colours on one wall. She remembered the holiday they had spent there not so long ago. Kristoph had been so attentive to her, then.

He was always attentive. He always let her have her way. He made sure she had everything she wanted. She was almost pampered by him.

But now she had reason to wonder if that pampering was to lull her into a false sense of security about their relationship. Was he really losing interest in her? Was he giving her everything she wanted except his unconditional and exclusive love?

She sat and read a story to Rodan for a little while. That kept her mind off her troubles. But the little girl was too energetic to sit and listen to anything for long. She wanted to ride her tricycle. Marion opened the French doors and let her do so around the patio. The wheels made an odd sound on the flagstones, but Rodan liked it. She repeated the sound in a sing song way as she played. Marion watched her and smiled. Rodan was the best thing Kristoph had ever done to indulge her whims. She loved the little girl dearly.

Then a fear gripped her heart.

What would happen to Rodan if she and Kristoph split up? If she went back to Earth, could she take her? With a sinking heart she thought that unlikely.

So much she would lose if her suspicions proved true. Not the wealth. That didn’t matter to her so much – in any case, it was likely she would be provided for in that way. But she would lose so much more that she cared about. Rodan, the children at the estate school, her friends here on Gallifrey.

“Marion!” She looked around from the French door as Rosanda stepped into the room. Her husband always called her ‘madam’ or ‘your Ladyship’. And he always knocked if a door was closed. Rosanda called her by her first name and had stepped quietly into the room without knocking. Such was the level of her friendship with her.

She rallied herself to look cheerful. Doubtless Caolin had told his wife to come and keep her company. It was just what he would do. He was a good man. And she liked Rosanda’s company, after all.

“I have just taken delivery of some very fine Genolian lace,” she said. “Would you like to see it? I thought it would be perfect for a dress for Rodan when she is presented at the Vernal Equinox.”

“That’s still months away,” Marion answered. “You shouldn’t start a dress for that, yet. She’s growing so fast it won’t fit. But… yes, I would love to see the lace.”

Genolia was a planet in the Kasterborus quadrant. It orbited the star called Tao. Its people traded with Gallifrey. They sent lace and spices and other luxuries and Gallifrey sent – well, Marion wasn’t entirely sure what they traded. But it was the sort of thing men like Rodan’s grandfather did, except that Tao wasn’t such a long distance as the planets he was travelling to.

The lace was very fine, intricate stuff, made by patient and nimble hands working in bright, airy workshops and was sold under a fair-trade agreement that paid the craftsmen and women the full worth of their efforts. That was important to know. Marion didn’t want her fosterling to wear lace made in a sweatshop by unhappy workers earning a pittance.

Ordinarily, at least, that would matter to Marion. She tried to be interested. But the overwhelming concern that had haunted her since yesterday kept creeping back into her mind and making her spirits sink.

“Marion,” Rosanda said gently. “Whatever it is, whatever is making you unhappy, I am sure it will all work out just fine. Lord de Lœngbærrow would never let you be sad.”

“What if Lord de Lœngbærrow is the one making me sad?” she asked. She thought of telling her fears to Rosanda. She was sure she would be understanding. And it would be easier than explaining herself to Aineytta, or even to somebody like Lily, as kind as they both were.

But something held her tongue. She felt as if just voicing her fears would make them more real than they already were.

She was afraid that Rosanda might shake her head sadly and say, ‘Yes, it is quite usual for high born Gallifreyan men to do this. I’m surprised you didn’t know, Marion.’

Or something of that sort.

She shook her head.

“Thank you for your concern,” she said. “But really, I am all right. I am just… just a little out of sorts. That’s all.”

Rosanda wisely didn’t press the matter. She talked of other things and the morning passed little by little. She kept Marion company through lunch. And she was glad of that. But she was wondering how she could possibly get through the afternoon – while Kristoph was with HER – without breaking down completely.

Then the door opened and Kristoph stepped into the white drawing room. Marion looked up in surprise. Rodan ran to him happily and he picked her up in his arms. He turned to Rosanda.

“I need to talk to Marion, alone,” he said. “Thank you for keeping her company this day, and on many other days.”

Rosanda stood and made a demure curtsey to Kristoph. It was not a deferential one of a servant, but of a free citizen of Gallifrey acknowledging one of its most powerful men.

Kristoph didn’t say anything for a while. Nor did Marion.

“Lord Dvoratre tells me that he talked to you yesterday at the Magistry. And my clerk says you were there for some time. I’m sorry I missed you.”

Marion didn’t say anything.

“I was puzzled. I know you were feeling unwell last night. But this morning at breakfast, you didn’t mention it at all.”

Marion still didn’t say anything.

“Then Lord Dvoratre told me that you had seen my diary for this week and wondered about my afternoon appointments. I find that system of initials useful for writing short notes to myself. But it is usually only employed among the women of our society. I am not surprised Dvoratre didn’t know what it meant. But… I think you do.”

Marion looked away from him. She couldn’t bear it any longer. Tears pricked her eyes.

“Marion!” Kristoph put Rodan down on the floor and then knelt by his wife’s side, taking her hands in his. She didn’t pull away, but her expression was unmistakeable. “Marion, what do you think I am doing on three afternoons this week with Valena D’Arpexia?”

Marion didn’t trust herself to speak. She swallowed hard as she tried to hold back her tears. Kristoph reached and stroked her face, brushing back a stray lock of hair from her forehead. Again, the look in her eyes was unmistakeable.

“Do you really think I would betray you that way?” he asked. “Even if I was that cruel, I would certainly not be so stupid as to leave evidence of my crime in an unsecured diary entry.”

“Then… please…” she began. “Please tell me WHAT business you have with… with ANY woman that you can’t tell me about, or your clerk, or Lord Dvoratre. Or your mother, even.”

“My mother is involved in this sorry tale?” Kristoph sighed. “Come on. There’s only one way to sort this out. Come with me.”

“Where?” she asked.

“Just come with me,” he told her. “Bring Rodan, if you like. She will enjoy the ride. But please come willingly, and put aside all the suspicions that have poisoned your thoughts. Believe me, nothing could be further from the truth.

Marion was heartened by that reassurance, at least. But she still felt troubled as Kristoph brought her out to the car that waited on the driveway outside the house. It was his own personal car, not one of the chauffeured limousines. He settled Rodan in a safety seat in the back and Marion in the passenger seat before sitting at the wheel.

Kristoph drove far faster than Marion ever did. He was much more sure of his skills as a driver and of the topography he was travelling over. Marion was surprised when she realised how far they had driven and even more so when they arrived at their destination.

“Why are we here?” she asked as he parked the car in front of the Lodge, the place where she and Kristoph often spent deeply passionate and romantic weekends. She was disturbed to see that there was another car already parked there. A small car very much like her own one.

A car owned by a woman.

“Who else is here?” she asked. “And WHY?”

“Come on,” Kristoph said as he got out of the car and lifted Rodan from her car seat. He walked towards the open entrance to the pool room. Marion followed him, dubiously.

When she saw Valena D’Arpexia sitting at the table by the pool, calmly reading a book, she turned to Kristoph with an outraged expression.

“I told you already,” Kristoph said. “It isn’t in any way what you think. Come and sit down with Valena. I’m going to take Rodan to the kitchen and find her some ice cream.”

Marion did as he said, still dubious. Valena closed her book and put it down on the table. Marion read the title upside down. It was rather pompously titled “A Guide to the Inquisitor’s Examinations”.

“Kristoph has been so very helpful,” Valena said. “I would never have managed to get through any of this without him.”

“You’re taking an examination?” Marion asked.

“Next week,” she answered. “I’ve been studying for nearly a year now. I want to join the Inquisitor’s office. But I have had to do it carefully, in secret…”


“Because my father said I could not do it. He wants me to make a politically advantageous marriage and produce heirs. I may well do that eventually, of course. But before I do, I want to make use of the law degree I achieved at the academy. Only… it’s nearly three hundred years since I graduated. I am very rusty and I was sure I was going to fail completely. Until Kristoph….”

“He’s been tutoring you… Here?”

“A quiet, private place where my father has no eyes,” she said. “Kristoph suggested it.”

Kristoph returned with Rodan, a large bowl of ice cream and the folding high chair that was used when they visited the Lodge with her. He set the child happily in her place and took a seat at the table.

“Lord Arpexia is adamant that his daughter should not work in any government department,” Kristoph said. “He has very old-fashioned ideas about a woman’s place, even a well educated one. I most certainly differ with him on that matter, and when Valena came to me at the Magistry last week and asked for a few hours of tuition to help her through the examination, I was glad to help. Once she has passed the examination and has been offered a position within the Inquisitor’s Office, Lord Arpexia will not be able to forbid it without showing his unreconstructed colours. But until then, I agreed to keep it a secret. I realise, now, of course, that I should have let you, of all people, know what was happening, Marion.”

“Well, YES,” she said. “I mean… if I had known…”

She looked at Kristoph, then at Valena. It WAS possible that they were both lying to her.

But she didn’t think so. She had met Lord Arpexia once. Only the once. And it was enough for her. He really did have old-fashioned ideas.

“I… hope you pass the exams,” she said to her. “There aren’t enough women in power on Gallifrey. I wish you the best of luck.”

“Thank you,” Valena said graciously.

“When Rodan has finished her ice cream, why don’t you and her change into bathing suits,” Kristoph suggested. “You can play with her in the pool for the afternoon. When I have completed the revision programme worked out for this afternoon, I think Valena would be delighted to join you for a little while. And I shall make tea for everyone before we go our separate ways.”

Marion thought that sounded like a good plan. She took their fosterling to the changing room and put her into a costume before blowing up a large dolphin shaped swimming aid that they had bought in North Wales. She enjoyed splashing and playing in the shallow end of the pool with her while Kristoph continued teaching Valena. She glanced at them from time to time. A lot of the teaching seemed to involve psychic projection from one to the other. Marion had seen that done before here on Gallifrey. Kristoph’s vast knowledge of the legal system, past cases, precedents and judgments was passed on to Valena in short bursts of condensed information that her brain was able to process.

After two hours, Kristoph said that they had done enough. He told Valena to go and change into a bathing costume while he made everyone some nice cold drinks. Marion brought Rodan from the pool and sat with her while he did so.

“Marion…” Valena said when he was out of earshot. “You didn’t really think that… you know… that Kristoph was doing anything… inappropriate?”

“Well… I…” Marion began. Then she shook her head.

“No,” she said. “Of course not.”

Valena looked at her closely and Marion wondered if she was going to say something else. She hoped not. She already knew she had let her imagination run riot and allowed herself to be upset over nothing.

Valena nodded and smiled at her, and kept her own counsel on the matter.

Marion thought that she was going to make a very good and wise inquisitor.