Lord du Bois was dressed in fine clothes and with a rose in his top button. He was just leaving the front door of Bennet House when Sir John arrived. The evening was deepening into night and the full moon was just showing
“Good evening Sir John,” said du Bois.
“Good evening Vulpine,” said Sir John, “are you going out?”
“Yes … I rather fancied an evening constitutional,” said du Bois.
“Without Arthur?” said Sir John.
“Ah … yes … he is a little overtired. At the ball, he was rather popular with the children and has needed to rest. If you’ll excuse me,” said du Bois.
“Perhaps I could accompany you,” said Sir John.
“Ah … perhaps it would be best if you didn’t,” said du Bois. “The ground is rather muddy and I’d hate you to spoil your clothes.”
“But you seem dressed rather well for such a walk?” said Sir John.
“Is everything all right?” said du Bois. “Your manner seems a little off, have I offended you? Is this because of that flower your wife had?”
“In a manner of speaking,” said Sir John. “Lord du Bois, Vulpine … I know.”
Lord du Bois’ face fell. “How, when?” he said quietly, his usual enthusiasm gone.
“At the ball, I wondered before, but the ball confirmed it.” said Sir John.
“I knew it,” said du Bois, “I went too far, it was too obvious. Talking to Marsh as I did.”
“Yes that was a large clue, letting on like that,” said Sir John.
“Will you tell anyone?” said du Bois.
“Something must be done Vulpine,” said Sir John. “For the sake of the Mallums’ reputation.”
“Oh Lord, do they know!” said du Bois.
“No,” said Sir John, “I haven’t told them.”
“But, surely you can find it in your heart to turn a blind eye. No one is being hurt,” said du Bois.
“But Lord du Bois, it’s … it’s immoral,” said Sir John.
Lord du Bois turned away to look at the moor. A tear ran down his face in the moonlight.
“So people say, but how can it be. It’s natural, it’s what I am, who I am,” said Lord du Bois.
Sir John sighed.
“You seem a decent man, I’d hoped to reason with you, to get you to stop,” said Sir John.
“I don’t want to stop … I … don’t think I should. It feels right, not wrong,” said du Bois.
“But, my god, to tear apart that livestock in that way,” said Sir John. “That can’t be natural.”
“I … what?” said du Bois.
“The savagery on the animals and the impact on the Mallums. It isn’t without consequence,” said Sir John.
“What are you talking about?” said du Bois.
“Lycanthropy,” said Sir John. “You’re a werewolf.”
“I’m a what?” said du Bois. “I thought you were here because I’m a … a confirmed bachelor.”
“A confirmed bachelor?” said Sir John.
“You know … the love that dare not speak its name. But I can speak my love’s name. It’s Marsh, the Mallums’ butler. I passed him a note that night, and I’m going to see him now. We’ve been lovers nearly since I got here.”
“Oh,” said Sir John.
“That’s … not what you meant?” said du Bois.
“No, I thought you were the beast. I think it’s a werewolf,” said Sir John.
“Why … what … why would you think that?” said du Bois.
“I, never mind,” said Sir John. “Back to square one again!”
There was a silence.
“You won’t, say anything,” said du Bois. “I have money, I can…”
“No,” said Sir John. “I don’t want any money and don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.”
“Thank you,” said du Bois. “They’d throw me in jail.”
“It’s nothing,” said Sir John. “Please, go to your lover. Have your time together.”