The Baroness Blixen sat gazing into the fire. The vast hearth of her
home at the foot of the Ngong Hills could blaze with more heat than the
Kenyan climate usually required, but she often built just enough of a
fire to remind her of evenings in Denmark. She thought with a pang about
the deep love she had felt for the irresponsible Hans, and of the spark
of caring she had unexpectedly begun to feel for his twin brother, also
a baron, after their marriage of convenience.
But now it did not even seem to her that she was married, given
Bror’s careful lack of devotion, and as often and as long as he was away
and out of touch. So it was always with great anticipation that she
looked forward to the occasional visits of Denys Finch Hatton and his
friend Berkeley Cole.
They would listen rapt to her stories; enjoy
the luxury of her china and crystal, drink fine wine; talk for hours;
tipsily serenade her.
Tonight they were just a bit late; usually
the light had not disappeared from the endless multi-coloured sky by the
time they arrived.
She thought about the casual, flippant Denys. Tremendously handsome in
that sandy and boyish way. Karen had felt the steady waves of his
attraction to her, though always he had been courtly—or was it a bit
distant? One imagined it would be a very difficult thing to truly get to
know him. Karen also suspected that he was just as much a wandering
spirit as Bror.
Berkeley Cole was decidedly harder to read, though she felt buoyed by his kindness and his way of listening
carefully to anything she said, a slight smile often crooking at one
side of his lips. She loved it when she got out something amusing that
caused him to smile more broadly, in a way that made his teeth seem to
glow in contrast with his deeply tanned skin. And he had the clearest,
warmest blue eyes. He’d greatly widen them suddenly when bantering or
impressed (or feigning it), in repose ruffling his own unruly hair and
never failing to make her chuckle.
could not forget his easygoing chivalry toward her the first time they
met, when she was snooping in Denys’ digs at the hotel on her wedding
day. Her perfume had reminded him of a girl he had known at Oxford—but
the intimate way he had told her it was not quite the same spoke volumes
about his feeling for the one who’d got away.
Karen had fallen in
love with him a little even then, though she could not acknowledge that
to herself minutes after her wedding. She joked about it soon after to
Bror, telling him matter-of-factly that when he left her, she planned to
marry the charming Cole.
having evaded the draft, murdered a member of the medical profession, tried to avoid detection to feather your own nest, i’d have said that you were a born politician. but the law being what it is, hanging is perhaps the very best way you can serve your country.