Rosie then went on to reveal that she had met Edward Hornburg before, during the period of time that she had attended a boarding school in Paris. I listened in shock as she related how both she and Amae had witnessed his angry shouting at a young girl in the school's courtyard. The scene she described sounded shockingly similar to Amae's situation: the gentleman makes the young lady fall in love, persuades her to elope, and then steals her dowery and is never heard of again.
"But this cannot be true!" I gasped. "Surely he has changed-"
"Evelyn, he has not changed," Rosie insisted. "How can you even consider that when you see how he looks at her? Not with love at all - no, rather like she is something to be bought and sold. It's awful, awful." And with that Rosie sank down to the ground with a despairing face. I was going to stroke her hair in an attempt to sooth her, but I saw a young red-headed gentleman approaching us with a hopeful look on his face. Rosie looked up and I saw her smile shyly. With one more glance in her direction, I left the room with a mysterious smile on my face.
"Miss Wickham!" I heard Edmond's voice call me. I whirled around and saw him with his arms stretched out towards me. "Do you care to dance?"
I felt a strange prick on my conscience that I ought to refuse, but I saw no way out. Walking slowly towards him, I took his hand gingerly, keeping at least a foot between us.
"You seem a bit pensive, Miss Wickham," Edmond observed as we twirled.
"Sir, I find you changed."
"I know not why you should feel so."
"Well..." I looked up at him, searching for words. I noticed that his eyes were green. That's odd, I thought. I was sure they were brown. And how would he know my last name?
"Did you like the flowers I sent?"
"Yes - and the note was very nice. But sir..."
"What is it, Miss Wickam?" he asked, curious.
"Sir, it is not at all proper that you should behave so. I am but eighteen!"
"I see no harm. You love me. I love you. Why should we not express our emotions?"
"But, sir-" I paused as I realized what he had just said. "Sir, when did I ever tell you that I loved you?"
"Of course you did not put it that clearly, but I know what you feel." He smiled, but something in his smile was off. An edge of menace was there - slight, but clear. And then he reached down towards my face, in an attempt to stroke my cheek. I stepped back once more, an expression of disgust on my face. This did not seem like Edmond, at least not the Edmond I had met. I spoke once more.
"Your eyes are green," I began, listing each fact. "You behave with much less decorum. You display a tendency towards an improper display of affection. And how do you know my name? I only told you my first name, yet all you have called me this evening was Miss Wickham! I do not know who you are, but I know that you are not Mr. Kingsley! Shame on you!" And with that, the fury of my anger burnt out and I burst into tears, much to my chagrin.
"Edward Hornburg," I heard a voice behind us speak in a deep tone. Whirling 'round, I beheld Edmond, the real Edmond Kingsley. Without a thought to proper decorum, I flung myself into his arms.
"Evelyn, what is wrong?" he said, pulling me away and looking at my tear-stained cheeks.
"This gentleman has been trying to fool me into thinking he was you, Ed - I mean to say, Mr. Kingsley."
"I can see that," he said in a stern voice, staring at the other man who must have been Edward Hornburg. The smirk on Edward's face was gone, replaced with an expression of fear.
Edward glanced warily at Edmond once more, then back to me, and then, before I had time to blink, dashed off and disappeared into the sea of dancers.