Perla asked for a glimpse of Colin after the events of “Secrets of a Lady,” and of Charles interacting with both his children. Here’s a brief scene, from Jeremy Roth’s point of view. This week’s addition to the Fraser Correspondence also mentions Colin–Mélanie’s writes to Raoul, contemplating her son’s first Christmas.
The rain had let up and patches of damp were drying on the pavement when Jeremy Roth turned into Berkeley Square. He was a dozen paces from the Fraser house when the door opened to admit a slender woman in a gray gown and bonnet and two smaller figures.
“Mr. Roth.” Colin Fraser ran down the steps and past the filigree lampposts. An indignant meow accompanied his dash. He had Berowne, the family cat, buttoned inside his coat. Colin slowed his pace and stroked the cat’s gray head. One couldn’t tell that beneath the tan leather of his glove the little finger of his right hand was a shortened stump, healed cleanly now, but a lasting legacy of his abduction.
Colin approached Roth at a slower pace, petting the mollified cat. “I expect you need to see Mummy and Daddy about the man who died last night.”
Children had a way of knowing everything. “Yes,” Roth said. “We arranged to meet here at one.”
“Hullo, Mr. Roth.” Jessica ran forward, honey-colored curls bouncing on her shoulders, trundling a hoop along the pavement. “Did you bring Adam and Geoffrey?”
“Not today I’m afraid.” Roth’s two sons were great favorites with Jessica.
“Mr. Roth has business with your parents.” The gray-gowned woman joined them. A flash of titian showed beneath her bonnet. It was Miss Dudley, the children’s governess. Roth shook her hand.
“Mr. and Mrs. Fraser sent the carriage back but haven’t returned themselves. Sometimes this sort of business takes longer than one anticipates.”
Her voice was cool, but Roth caught an unexpected spark in her hazel eyes. He revised his impression of how much Miss Dudley knew of her employers’ adventures.
A hackney turned into the square, sending up a spray of water from the street and eliciting another yowl from Berowne.
“There they are,” Jessica said as her parents alighted from the hackney. She ran forward and flung her arms round her mother’s knees, then drew back and stared up at her. “What happened to the dress you were wearing this morning?”
“It got wet,” Mélanie Fraser said.
Jessica touched a fold of the cherry-striped fabric. “This one’s pretty. I like the lace.”
Colin looked from his mother to his father. “Did you get hurt?”
Charles Fraser ruffled his son’s hair. “Nothing serious, lad.”
“If it wasn’t serious you wouldn’t have been gone all morning. But you’re all right now, that’s the important thing.” Colin’s gaze moved to his mother and fastened on a scrape above the scarlet folds of her cloak. “Are you going out again?”
“Yes, but not for a bit. We have to talk to Mr. Roth.”
Jessica leaned her elbows on her hoop. “You said we’d play in the square.”
“And you’re going to.” Mrs. Fraser tucked a curl beneath Jessica’s velvet bonnet. “Laura’s taking you.”
“Will you take us tomorrow?” Jessica asked.
Mélanie Fraser flicked a glance at her husband. “Soon.”
Jessica caught a fold of mother’s dress again, this time with greater urgency. “I don’t want Colin to go away again.”
Mrs. Fraser crouched down and put her arms round the little girl. “Laura’s going to take extra-special care of you and Colin, querida, just like we’ve talked about. You and Colin are going to take care of Berowne.” She reached out to stroke the cat. “Make sure he has his lead on, Colin.”
“Who’s going to take care of you and Daddy?” Jessica asked.
“Daddy and I can take care of ourselves. We’re very good at it.”
“Sometimes you get hurt.”
“But we always come home safely, don’t we?”
Jessica exchanged a look with her brother. “Promise you’ll come see us before you go out again?”
“Word of honor,” Charles Fraser said.