Claptrap last week,” Lady D announced. “I think the priest is getting old.”Gareth opened his mouth, but before he could say a word, his grandmother’s cane swung around in a remarkably steady horizontal arc. “Don’t,” she warned, “make a comment beginning with the words, ‘Coming from you…’”“I wouldn’t dream of it,” he demurred.“Of course you would,” she stated. “You wouldn’t be my grandson if you wouldn’t.” She turned to Hyacinth. “Don’t you agree?”To her credit, Hyacinth folded her hands in her lap and said, “Surely there is no right answer to that question.”“Smart girl,” Lady D said approvingly.“I learn from the master.”Lady Danbury beamed. “Insolence aside,” she continued determinedly, gesturing toward Gareth as if he were some sort of zoological specimen, “he really is an exceptional grandson. Couldn’t have asked for more.”Gareth watched with amusement as Hyacinth murmured something that was meant to convey her agreement without actually doing so.“Of course,” Grandmother Danbury added with a dismissive wave of her hand, “he hasn’t much in the way of competition. The rest of them have only three brains to share among them.”Not the most ringing of endorsements, considering that she had twelve living grandchildren.“I’ve heard some animals eat their young,” Gareth murmured, to no one in particular.Hyacinth wrinkled her nose, as she always did when she was thinking hard. It wasn’t a terribly attractive expression, but the alternative was simply not to think, which she didn’t find appealing.

~ Julia Quinn