Behold, Here's Poison

by Georgette Heyer

There entered a sleek and beautiful young man who paused just inside the door, and glanced round at his assembled relatives with a bland and faintly mocking smile. He was dressed with the most finicking care, and nothing could have been more symphonic than the blend of his shirt with his silk socks and his expensive tie. His figure was extremely elegant; his hands were well-manicured; his jet-black hair was brushed into waves undisturbed by the slightest disorder; and his teeth were so gleamingly white and regular that they might have served for an advertisement for somebody's toothpaste. His mouth was a little too thin-lipped to be perfect, and curled too sarcastically to be pleasant, but his eyes, set under straight brows and fringed by long-lashes, were remarkable for their colour and brilliance. They were of a startling and deep blue, very hard, generally half-hidden by drooping lids, and occasionally disconcerting in their sudden alertness. As he looked from one to the other of his relations they were smiling, and quite limpid.

"How lovely for me!" he said in a voice of honeyed sweetness. "Not only my dear Aunt Gertrude, but my charming cousin Janet as well!" He walked forward, graceful and rather feline, and bent to kiss his aunt's cheek. "My dear aunt! You look so nice in that hat."

"Do you think so?" said Mrs Lupton unresponsively.

"I've thought so for years," he said gently, and passed on to Miss Matthews. "You must none of you bother to say how pleased you are to see me," he said. "I can read it all in your expressive faces." He looked critically at Stella, and strolled across the room towards her. "Yes, darling, that is quite a nice frock, but the hankerchief is not only the wrong shade of grey, but quite damnably tied. Let me show you, my sweet."

Stella pushed his hand away. "No, thanks!"

He was still smiling. "How you hate me, don't you?" he murmured. "And Guy? How are you, little cousin?"

Guy, who did not relish this form of address glowered at him.

Mrs Lupton, still rigid with wrath at the edged compliment paid her, said sharply: "I presume you have heard the news of your uncle's death?"

"Oh, yes!" said Randall. "You will notice that I am wearing an armband. I always like to observe the conventions. And which one of you," he inquired, looking amiably round, "is responsible for dear uncle's death? Or don't you know?"

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