The north coast of Cornwall can be a bleak place in winter. Wild storms blowing in from the Atlantic are interspersed with long spells of heavy, damp cold which darken the short days and creep into every corner.
In that year of 1836 the unrelenting chill had lingered through March and April, dull, cold and wet.
But then in the second week of May, spring had blossomed with a sudden exuberance. For endless days the sky was a clear, pure blue streaked with fronds of white, and the meadows came alive with purple scabious and yellow buttercups.
By the third week of the month the hawthorn along the stream which edged the garden at Nampara was white with blossom, and the thrushes and finches were in full-throated song every morning from dawn till noon.
The wedding party setting out to walk the short distance from Nampara to Sawle Church were in fine fettle, as befitted the happy occasion.
First came the bridegroom’s parents. Ross Poldark was in his mid-seventies now, but still stood tall in spite of the limp from a long-ago musket ball, which required him to use a walking stick – when he could be persuaded not to throw it aside in disgust.
His hair was now pure white, though still as thick and curling as in his youth. The scar on his cheek, from the same military adventure as the musket ball, had almost completely faded. Though always inclined to a gaunt appearance, the strong bones of his face ensured that he was a still a good-looking man.
Beside him, his wife Demelza had enjoyed the same blessing. Still slender, still with a lightness of step and a brightness of eye, she could have been twenty years younger than her true age – it had amused Ross for many years now that those who did not know them well assumed that she was his second wife.
Her sole concession to the passing years was to abandon the hair dye she had long employed to disguise the odd stray strand of silver, and her hair was now as white as her husband’s. Her dress was of a cerulean blue satin that almost matched the sky, fashionable enough with its small waist and wide skirt, but Demelza had never cared for the frills and furbelows so beloved by the ladies of London society.
A merry calvacade straggled along behind them. Their two daughters, Clowance Lady Fitzmaurice, in pale green satin brocade, walked arm-in-arm with her sister Bella, as dark as the other was fair, chattering to catch up with each other’s news as if they hadn’t seen each other barely a month ago. Their husbands followed, deep in discussion regarding the outcome of a cricket match at Lords between the MCC and Sussex.
Next came Ross’s cousin Verity Blamey on the arm of her handsome sailor son Andrew, followed by Andrew’s wife Tamsin and their three children; then Cuby, the widow of Ross and Demelza’s oldest son Jeremy, and Cuby’s daughter Noelle with Noelle’s new husband Sir Phillip Meridrew. Behind them were Sophia and Meliora, the daughters of Dwight and Caroline Enys, as slender and striking as their mother, with their husbands and children.
Bringing up the rear were several of the servants from Nampara, in their Sunday best.
As they reached the gate to turn onto the well-levelled track down towards Sawle, Demelza’s step faltered for an instant. Ross glanced down at her. “My love?”
She shook her head quickly. “Nothing. I just…”
The shadow in his hooded eyes told her that he shared the memory that still had the power to hurt, after all these years. Another wedding party setting out for Sawle church, and a tall, thin, dark-haired young man in smart regimentals arriving home just in time to join them.
But Jeremy would never be home again – he had lain for more than twenty years in a quiet cemetery far away in Belgium, with his father’s sword beside him.
Demelza sighed, consciously laying the past behind her, as she had done so often in her life. “But today is for us to be happy.” She smiled up at him. “For everyone to be happy. That’s what we should do.”
Ross lifted her hand and kissed her fingers, his eyes resting on her with a lifetime of affection. “You were always my happiness.”
She rested her hand in the crook of his arm and laid her head briefly against his shoulder. “And you were always mine.”
It was a pleasant walk along the cliffs in the sunshine, with the sea below them a tranquil blue-green. The waves rolled in lazily in long unbroken ridges until they almost reached the shore before tipping over slowly from end to end in a delicate froth of lace which slid smoothly up the flat, wet sand, then drew back for the next to follow behind.
A pair of larks soared high in the air, their melodic song competing with the squealing of the gulls squabbling as they skimmed across the waves. A bumblebee danced lazily amid the yellow gorse which grew along the edge of the moor.
The churchyard was crowded with well-wishers from the villages around, come to share in the exciting occasion and wishing them good-day. Ross and Demelza exchanged greeting with many old friends – the Martins, the Daniels, the Nanfans. The children and grandchildren of men Ross had known since his childhood - his tenants, his farmworkers, his miners.
In this hard land of North Cornwall there was little formal distinction between those who owned the land and those who worked it. The respect was there, on both sides, and there was no need of further emphasis.
In the old church, with its crooked tower that had somehow survived everything the wild Cornish gales could throw at it, the pews were already half-filled. This morning Noelle and the Enys girls had spent a couple of hours arranging tubs of flowers around the altar – lilacs and roses and love-in-the-mist from Demelza’s garden, their sweet fragrance filling the air.
Demelza paused in the porch, admiring the display. “Oh – doesn’t it look lovely? They did really well.” She sighed softly. “Do you remember the day we were married here?”
“With only old Jud and Prudie to be witnesses.”
“And Reverend Odgers looking down his nose at me,” Demelza added with a gurgle of laughter.
Ross smiled down at her. “Did you ever regret that we didn’t have a proper wedding?”
“It was a proper wedding!” she protested indignantly. Her fine eyes took on a misty, far-away look of memory. “It was lovely, perfect.”
He squeezed her hand. “That’s what I’ve always liked about you. You’re easy to please.”
“Not at all.” She glanced up at him, mischief in her eyes. “I’ve always wanted the best. And I got it.”
“Hush. You’ll put me to the blush.”
“I’ve never seen you blush in fifty years!”
As they slipped into their pew at the front of the church, the groom turned to them, a wide grin on his face. Henry – Harry, as the family always called him – their youngest son, the one who had caused them the least anxiety of all their children; a happy mix of his father’s strength of purpose and his mother’s sunny warmth.
Demelza couldn’t help but reflect with a certain pride on how handsome he looked – tall and dark, like Ross, and smart as a pin in a black frock-coat over a plain grey waistcoat, with a spotless white cravat at his neck.
“Well, this is it!” He was barely able to contain his excitement. “I’ve waited so long for this day.”
“Not so long, surely?” his father protested. “You’ve only been betrothed since March.”
“But I’ve wanted to marry Rachel since forever!”
Demelza laughed fondly and put up her hand to brush a speck of dust from his shoulder. Across the aisle, the mother of the bride was taking her place.
“Harriet’s looking very fine,” Ross murmured, bowing to the lady.
Demelza gave him a sidelong glance. “Do you wish to change pews?”
He shook his head, laughing softly. “Oh, I’m very well satisfied where I am, thank you.”
Demelza laughed too, leaning forward to exchange warm smiles with the woman who over the past ten or fifteen years had unexpectedly become one of her closest friends - Ross’s too, in spite of her having been married to Ross’s life-long adversary, George Warleggan.
Lady Harriet Warleggan always looked elegant, though she had little patience for keeping up with the latest fashions. Today she wore a gown of rich emerald green silk, nipped in tightly at the waist and with sleeves puffed from elbow to wrist. Perched on her sleek dark hair was a matching bonnet trimmed with a froth of lace, with a large ribbon bow jauntily tied beneath one ear.
Beside her, her step-daughter Ursula never appeared to best advantage. Sturdily built, with pale, rather thin hair and quick grey eyes, she lacked almost any trace of her late mother, Elizabeth – of all George’s children, she was the one who most took after their father. And she too had little interest in what she wore, apart from a taste for rather ostentatious diamonds.
Being a considerable heiress, she had of course been the object of several ardent suitors, but she had shown no interest in any of them, either. In fact her only interest was in banking and business, taking over her father’s affairs on his death and running them with a degree of success that was quite startling to the grand burgers of Cornwall who had been quite shocked at having to deal with a woman.
The third occupant of the pew was a young man, no more foppish than one preparing to go up to Oxford could be expected to be - George Warleggan, still called ‘Young George,’ though ‘Old George’ had been dead for almost four years now. His mother, Selina, wasn’t present – she was by now on her fifth husband, a wealthy industrialist, and lived in Leeds.
The organ – built in his spare time by Ben Carter, Ross’s mine manager - struck up, and all heads turned to see the bride walk down the aisle on the arm of her cousin Francis, Baron Godolphin.
The Reverend Proffit stepped into his place, and the ceremony uniting Miss Rachel Mary Warleggan with the Honourable Henry Vennor Poldark began.
“The garden’s looking lovely, Harriet.”
“Yes – thanks to Demelza. Those roses you gave me have done better than I thought possible, and the hollyhocks really brighten up the wall.”
The three ladies, Harriet, Demelza and Verity, were sitting side-by-side on a wooden bench, sheltered from the sun by their frilled parasols and the leafy branches of a large lilac tree. One of Harriet’s great boar-hounds dozed at their feet like a ragged hearth-rug.
“It’s nice to see the old place coming to life again.” Demelza smiled as she glanced around. “It always seemed so dour, but really that was only because there was no-one to care much for it.”
“It’s had so many tenants since the poor Kellows. And none of them staying above half a year. People kept saying it was haunted.”
“Stuff and nonsense!” Harriet declared brusquely. “Though I confess, the rumour suited me nicely. I paid not half of what it’s worth, when all it needed was the ivy to be cut back, and a few trees to be felled.”
Demelza shuddered, dark memories flitting though her mind. “I’m not so sure about the ‘poor’ Kellows. But it took your eye to see its potential.”
It had been a surprise to the whole neighbourhood when Lady Harriet Warleggan, within a year of her widowhood, had chosen to exchange the elegant glory of Cardew, the vast mansion purchased by her late father-in-law, with its sprawling acres overlooking the Restronguet valley, for what was really little more than a farmhouse, its estate almost backing onto Sawle village.
The place had rather an unfortunate history. Once owned by Thomas Choake, the pompous local physician, on his death his simpering wife had let it to some cousins for a peppercorn rent. Charles Kellow had owned a failing stagecoach business, and two of his daughters had died of consumption. And his son, Paul… But Demelza preferred not to think of Paul Kellow. He had been safely confined to an asylum for the criminally insane for more than fifteen years.
Even when the Kellows had lived there, the house had been in a poor condition, the gardens overgrown, the windows letting in terrible draughts – and she had once seen ants crawling in the rugs. In the years since the Kellows had left it had fallen into an even worse state of disrepair. By the time old Polly Choake had died and her nephew had decided to sell it, it had been almost derelict.
But Harriet had thrived on the challenge. “For the first time in my life,” she had declared, “I have a free hand to do exactly as I like with my house. And I fully intend to.”
With the enormous old pine trees that had blocked out all the sunlight from the front windows cut down, and the windows themselves replaced with snugly-fitting frames, the house had taken on a much brighter aspect.
Inside, walls had been knocked down to make larger rooms, floors had been re-laid, and new carpets and furnishings had been purchased in a spending spree in which Demelza and Caroline Enys had participated with gusto.
The garden too had been transformed, with even more enthusiastic support from Demelza, whose own garden at Nampara was her pride and joy. Here the effect was a little more formal, with wide gravel paths and low box hedges surrounding lawns and flowerbeds, and a small elegant fountain in the middle.
Demelza closed her eyes and breathed in the scent of the lilac blossom. “I love this scent,” she sighed. “It always reminds me of the old tree outside our front door.”
“Oh yes – the one Ross’s mother planted.” Verity smiled in reminiscence. “I wonder if they were planted at the same time?”
“I don’t know. Who lived here before the Choakes?”
“I don’t remember. Do you Ross?”
“Remember what?” He had strolled up behind them with Sophia, the elder daughter of his old friend Dwight Enys, on his arm.
“Who owned Fernmore before the Choakes had it?”
He laughed, shaking his head. “That’s going back a few years. I think it was a family called Hotten, but I can’t be sure. Why do you ask?”
“Oh, we were just curious about who planted this lilac tree. I couldn’t imagine Polly Choake doing it.”
“Not could I,” Verity agreed. “She was such an empty-headed creature. I’m sure she would never even think of such a thing. And as for Dr.Choake, he was only interested in his hunting. Even his patients came second. Speaking of old houses, Ross.” She smiled up at her cousin. “We passed close to Place House on our way here. When Young George comes of age do you think he will do anything with it? Those ruins have been an eyesore for years.”
“I doubt it.” Ross’s mouth thinned. “He still draws a reasonable income from the mine, but the house itself… He has little interest in it.” He eased his shoulder, which had been injured in that devastating fire more than fifteen years ago which had destroyed the house and killed Young George’s father.
Across the garden the young man himself was trying rather clumsily to flirt with one of the Godolphin girls. He had grown several inches since the last time he had been in Cornwall, two years ago, but hadn’t yet filled out across the shoulders to match his height. His hair was golden fair, as fair as his mother’s. Which was fortunate, Ross mused wryly – that, and the passage of time, had helped lay to rest the old rumours of his lineage.
And also the fact that Old George – probably at Harriet’s wise prompting – had at last given the appearance of accepting him, and in his Will had bequeathed his substantial fortune equally between him, Ursula and Rachel.
And so, at last, there could be a kind of peace. Though behind that introspective face there were still many memories that lay hidden.
“And what of Killewarren?” Harriet asked, glancing up at the tall, fair young woman at Ross’s side.
Sophia shook her head. “Mama won’t go near it.”
“I was so sorry that she didn’t feel able to come down for the wedding.”
Sophia smiled sadly. “She can’t bear to come into Cornwall yet. She misses Papa so much.”
Demelza put up her hand to cover Ross’s where it lay on her shoulder - she knew how sorely Ross missed his best friend, too. Though Dwight had never seemed to fully recover from his incarceration in a French prison as a young man, he had proved to contain a sinewy strength, surviving and even thriving on his hard work doctoring to the district - in spite of all Caroline’s anxiety.
Then last summer he had caught a simple chill, and was gone in a week.
They were all silent for a moment. But the shadow passed – it was too happy an occasion to dwell for too long on thoughts of absent friends.
“It was a lovely wedding.” Demelza glanced across at the bride, as dark and elegant as her mother in a dress of pale gold sarsenet. “Rachel looks so beautiful.”
“Doesn’t she?” Harriet responded proudly. She slanted a teasing glance up at Ross. “Fit to match with the son of a Viscount?”
Ross laughed, shaking his head. “Please don’t remind me of that – here in Cornwall at least I can pretend it doesn’t exist! And it was certainly not awarded for any merit of mine – it was purely a political expedient.”
“All titles are political.” Harriet twirled her green satin parasol. “My ancestors gained theirs simply for having the very good sense to choose the winning side in the Civil Wars. By the time Harry’s son inherits, the name of Viscount Poldark of Nampara will be regarded as among the most venerated in the land. And besides…” She laughed wickedly. “It was such fun to tell George. He worked so hard to get that paltry little tag of his, which wasn’t even hereditary. It very nearly gave him an apoplexy to hear of your superior elevation. I’m sure that’s what helped to carry him off.”
“Oh, don’t say so!” Demelza couldn’t quite suppress the laughter in her voice.
“Well, ‘tis true. I shall add that to the tally of all the good you have done for the world, Ross. And now to add to the insult, a goodly portion of the fortune he traded his soul to gain is to pass to the Poldark family through marriage. I couldn’t be more delighted. Of course, Ursula is like to leave her share to a foundling home, or some such, which would equally displease George.”
“Uncle Ross, could you spare us a few minutes?”
Ross turned to smile at his nephew, Geoffrey Charles – now MP for Truro, his own old seat. “Oh dear. Are you planning to bore me with politics?”
“Just for a moment. I’m sorry – perhaps it’s not quite the subject for a wedding, but it’s such an opportunity with several of us here together. It’s too good to miss.”
“Very well.” He sighed, and gave Demelza’s shoulder a squeeze. “Excuse me, my love.”
Harriet leaned back against the bench with a contented sigh. “Well, there it is. My house is finished, my daughter is safely married, I have enough money to comfortably accommodate three greedy hunters eating their heads off in my stables… What should I do next? Do you think I should take a lover?”
“Harriet!” gasped Verity, genuinely shocked.
Harriet laughed her low, rather masculine laugh. “Oh, I don’t think I will. Men can be such a bother, needing so much attention all the time. The only sort I could consider would be one who lived in London, or preferably France, who would visit me only for a short time each summer.” She lifted a lazy hand to summon a young footman to refill their glasses with the pale straw-coloured canary wine.
“This is good,” said Demelza, taking a sip.
“It’s palatable enough,” Harriet conceded dismissively. “Though since old Hubert Trencrom died the quality is not so reliable. One might even find oneself forced to pay taxes to be sure of a decent supply!”
The wedding party continued around them, guests wandering through the gardens and house in the warm afternoon sunshine.
“Cuby looks well,” Verity remarked.
“She does.” Demelza glanced across to where her older widowed daughter-in-law was in conversation with Clowance. Cuby had never really been a beauty, but she had a lovely smile which lit up her whole face. And the pale lilac half-mourning which she still always wore suited her dark colouring.
“Who’s the gentleman with them?” Harriet asked.
“His name’s Tom Guildford. I didn’t recognise him at first, until Clowance reminded me. He was one of her train of admirers, before she married Edward. He’s been in India for many years now – I didn’t know he was returned.”
“He looks as if he’s done well for himself,” said Verity.
“And he looks as if he’s taking quite an interest in Cuby,” added Harriet.
“Yes, he does… I would like for her to find someone. I worry about her now that Noelle has married - all alone in that lonely house so close to the moors.”
“I wonder she doesn’t go to live with her sister,” Verity mused.
Demelza smiled wryly. “She may think it not too tactful, since Phillip wanted to marry her first. It must have been hard for Clemency not to feel herself second best. I was a little disappointed when Cuby turned him down, for he’s a good man, and she deserves to be happy. And she had so short a time with Jeremy.”
“Perhaps that’s why she preferred not to marry again.” Harriet’s shrewd perceptions still often startled Demelza. “She has so few memories that she wants to preserve what she has untouched.”
Ross had followed Geoffrey Charles into the house, where his son-in-law Sir Edward Fitzmaurice, his new relative-by-marriage Sir Francis Osbourne, and several others were gathered in the library. He greeted them all with a nod.
“What’s afoot?” he enquired, taking a seat in the comfortable winged armchair beside the fireplace, which Harriet had filled with flowers, and accepting a glass of brandy from a smart footman.
“You’ll have heard that it’s the final reading of the Prisoner’s Counsel Act?” Geoffrey Charles rested his elbow on the mantle-shelf. “It’s to be debated in the Commons at the end of June. Then it passes to the Lords.”
“Yes – I read about it in The Times. Do you think it really stands a chance of coming through this time?”
“I think it likely we’ll manage a majority in the Commons. Lyndhurst is very strong behind it, and the sympathies of the Bar have finally swung in our favour.”
Ross arched one dark eyebrow. “And the Lords?”
“It’s tight – damnably tight.” Edward exhaled a thin stream of smoke. He had lately taken to the small cigars imported from France. “We need every vote.”
Ross sighed. “And you want me to drag my weary old bones up to Westminster again, at my age?”
Geoffrey Charles laughed. “I’m sorry, Uncle Ross. I know it’s an imposition.”
Glancing around the room, Ross realised that his small jest had backfired on him – he was the oldest of the gathering by at least a decade. When had that come about?
“You were supposed to assure me that I’m still a stripling,” he protested satirically. “But are you serious? Could we really get it through this time?”
“I think so. Lyndhurst carries a good deal of weight with him, as does Dr.Lushington. It’s finally coming to be seen that it’s an injustice that the accused’s fate should vary so much between the different circuits, depending as it does on the temper of the judges. It’s all very well to argue that their best chance lies in throwing themselves on the mercy of the court, but many of them don’t have the words or the courage to argue their case.”
Ross nodded slowly. The mercy of the court… His mind slipped back… How many years ago now? There was a time when he had stood in the dock himself, on trial for his life against an accusation of riot and plunder. Somehow he had found the words that day to argue his case, but the shadow of the gallows had come very close.
And some years before that he had tried to engage the mercy of the court for a young man who had worked on his farm, Jim Carter – Ben Carter’s father. And had found it totally wanting. Jim had been sentenced to two years, and had died in prison, for the crime of trying to feed his family.
“Very well,” he agreed. “I’ll be there.”
“Nanma, you have to come now and say goodbye to Rachel and Uncle Harry.” Grace, the younger of Clowance’s two pretty daughters, came dancing up – she and her sister had been bridesmaids, along with two of Rachel’s younger Osbourne cousins, and had thoroughly enjoyed their day. “You too, please, Lady Harriet.”
“Very well, my lover, we’re coming,” Demelza assured her. “Verity?”
“No, dear – you go. I’m quite happy sitting here.”
Demelza slanted her a look of concern, but said nothing. Verity seemed to tire quite quickly these days. Last year she had taken a bad fall, and it had been several months before she had been quite well again. It was difficult to remember that she was almost eighty years old now – not many years younger than Ross’s Aunt Agatha had been when she had first met her.
The bride and groom had discarded their wedding finery for costumes more appropriate for their journey – they were travelling to Falmouth, and from there taking ship to Italy for their honeymoon.
Rachel had changed into a dress of rose pink silk, and her eyes were bright as she excitedly bade everyone farewell, seemingly determined to share a few words with every guest. When she came up to Demelza she took both her hands, and drew her a little aside.
“There is something very special I want to say to you, my dear Mama-in-law. Oh, how strange it is to call you that, when I have known you almost all my life!”
Demelza smiled and squeezed her hands. “It’s a role I’m delighted to play.”
“I’m glad. But what I wanted to say is…” A momentary shadow flickered across that pretty face. “You know, when I lost Ann, it was… as if I had lost half of myself. I don’t know if I can explain that. It’s maybe… being a twin...”
“You don’t need to explain. When you were children, you were inseparable – like two peas in a pod. Where one would be, there would be the other, always.”
“Yes. We seemed to think the same thoughts, feel each other’s joys – and pain. Do you remember that time when she fell from her pony and broke her arm? I felt the ache in my own arm for weeks. And after she died… I never felt complete. Until Harry. Now – he completes me. Oh, I’m probably not saying it very well…”
Demelza hugged her affectionately. “My love, I know exactly what you mean.”
Rachel smiled. “Yes, I think maybe you do. You and Sir Ross…”
Demelza laughed, shaking her head. “I think now that you are family you should drop the ‘Sir.’ Ross and Demelza will do very nicely for us.”
The bride’s fine eyes danced with delight. “Ross and Demelza it is then. I just wanted you to know how happy I am. If we can be as happy as you two…”
“Just remember that not all of marriage is plain sailing.” Demelza’s smile was filled with memories. “Sometimes… Well, there have been times when Ross and I have hit some very bad squalls. But somehow we always managed to steer ourselves off the rocks, as I’m sure you shall. Now hurry, or it will be dark before you reach Falmouth.”
“Yes. Goodbye. And goodbye Si… Ross,” she added as he came up behind his wife. Standing on tip-toe she kissed him impulsively on the cheek, and then she was off, climbing into the coach and waving merrily from the coach as it bowled away down the drive.
“What was Rachel saying to you this afternoon?” Ross asked as they slid into bed that night.
“Oh, Ross, the sweetest thing.” She repeated the conversation.
He nodded, drawing her into the crook of his arm. “I think they will be happy. She’s a very nice girl – and Harry is quite besotted with her.”
“It’s odd, don’t you think?” She snuggled up against him. “He was the youngest, almost an after-thought, and perhaps the most spoiled of our children. And yet he’s the only one who has never given us a moment’s anxiety.”
“All the anxiety came with him before he was born. There were times when I was afraid I would lose you.”
She reached up and kissed him. “Silly.”
“I didn’t think so at the time.”
For a while after that difficult birth he had tried to hold back from the close physical intimacy they had always enjoyed, afraid of the possible consequences. But Demelza had refused to let him be so foolish.
And though as the years had passed their pleasure in each other may have grown a little less frequent – or indeed less energetic – than in their passionate youth, it was in many ways the deeper and sweeter for that.
Ross didn’t tell Demelza about what he had agreed with Edward and Geoffrey Charles until a few days later, when all their guests were gone. It was pleasant to have the house to themselves again, and to sit in the old parlour where they always sat when there was just the two of them, preferring it to the fine new wing that he had had built on the western side of the rough farmhouse his father had thrown up before he himself was born.
“You think you must go?” she asked, pouring a glass of brandy for him and of port for herself.
“Yes, I think I must, though I’m not fond of the journey.” He sighed. “It was for this that I agreed to allow myself to be saddled with that stupid title – so that I could sit in the House of Lords and help push through the Reform Act. Although in the end, it wasn’t even necessary.”
“But there were other things that you thought were important. The Slavery Act, and to try to stop them pushing through the Poor Law.”
“Which we lost. Now… Well…”
Demelza nodded decisively. “If you think we must go, then we’ll go.”
“You’ll come with me?” He was pleased, though he hadn’t been sure about asking her – Demelza dearly loved her own hearth, and had never much cared for London.
“It will be a chance to see Caroline again.” Her eyes darkened. “I do miss her so, Ross.”
He nodded, gazing into his brandy. There was nothing to say.