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Lamia Victoriana

by Tansy Rayner Roberts

The poet’s sister has teeth as white as new lace. When she speaks, which is rarely, I feel a shiver down my skin.

I am not here for this. I am here to persuade my own sister, Mary, that she has made a terrible mistake, that eloping as she has with this poet who cannot marry her, will not only be her own ruin, but that of our family.

My tongue stumbles on the words, and every indignant speech I practiced on my way here has melted to nothing. The poet looks at me with his calm, beautiful eyes, and Mary sits scandalously close to him, determined to continue in her path of debauchery and wickedness. I cannot take my eyes from the poet’s sister.


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