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. . Kathryn Blake

So, the girl currently calling herself Kathryn Blake, who is

. . . only and always Kate – that short, sharp blade of a name that suits her down to the bone . . .

How best to introduce her,

. . . straight and slim and silhouetted starkly against the pastel sky?

It hardly scratches the surface, and there are so many surfaces, with Kate, for all that she is not

. . . inherently threatening . . . just a girl who might be sixteen or twenty-six, barely five feet four and slim as an eel, with only a touch of hardness about her eyes for warning.

There is some excuse, then, for the old family friend who sees only

. . . a charming girl, if a little flighty.  Plays chess rather better than she ought to, now I come to think of it.

And even he is not entirely surprised when he finds

She moved like poetry; she moved like a dream.  I’m an old man, and I’m entitled to bloody dreams, after what I’ve seen.  The man never knew what hit him, I’m certain of that.  I hardly saw it myself; and then she was standing, peeling off the long gloves, taking the gun from his cooling hand

There is always the risk with this girl, even when she is

. . . dressed demurely yet arrestingly in something soft and powder blue, her pale shoulders bare but her slim arms gloved to the elbow . . .


. . . suddenly the girl posed so elegantly at rest was a poised, feral creature, ready to spring.  Yet I swear she didn’t move an eighth of an inch.

So what else do you need to know about the girl who might well have been, as Marraine appears to believe

. . . the illegitimate daughter of an arms dealer’s wife . . .

Where has she come from, what has she been?  How did she become

. . . half a phantom . . . a whisper, a threat . . . more frightening than ten years to life . . .

Is there really no more to it than Peter Leighton would have it –

She was fourteen; the world had treated her badly; she contrived to fall into bad company.

She was indeed brought up in the household of an arms dealer to whom she is related only by a technicality.  She does have a number of things that she feels a need to make up for, and a number of useful skills to allow her to do so.  She is, as I have said elsewhere, a traceuse, a pick-pocket, and a cat-burglar.  She has attracted the interest of her natural father’s ex-employer, but they have a strong feeling that

. . . the girl’s no damn use . . . parlour trickery . . . nothing a conventional team couldn’t have brought in . . .

. . . and that may perhaps allow her to keep her hands clean – if she chooses to.

For now you will have to be satisfied with the last word that he is so rarely allowed from Pavel Yakovych.  He is fonder of her than is healthy for either of them, and he of all people knows that she is

. . . the katana that must not be mistaken for a showpiece simply because it is sheathed in embroidered silk.


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