Death in Leamington
encounter, I began to sing to myself but was disturbed from those thoughts by a loud sound above. As I hoped, I was rewarded by a further glimpse of Izzie as she opened the sash window and popped her head out of the opening to blow me down a final kiss.
Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.’
I shouted up at the window.
    ‘Be quiet, you idiot,’ she hissed back. ‘You’ll wake the patients.’
    ‘O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?’
    She threw something down at me. I picked it up. It was a little plastic juice bottle with a scribbled note and directions to her flat stuffed inside.
I’ll be home about 9.00am, meet me there if you can, with breakfast and jewelled favours,
I read.

Chapter Seven

    Pearl’s a Singer – (Presto) ‘Troyte’

    Leamington is a very new and neat town. It is more difficult to give a person who hasn’t seen England an idea of it than of such a place as Chester. It is very characteristic of England too. The prevalent hue of houses, sidewalks, road & everything is a cheerful drab or buff. The bricks are buff. The stucco with which the neat plain houses are mostly covered is buff. The stone of the nice sidewalks is the same color, and so are the smooth & clean roads. The houses are singularly devoid of all attempts at ornament or where there is any it is of a super-chaste description. The whole has that trim & trig aspect which belongs to everything English. We are living at a ruinous rate at the Regent Hotel here. We have a bed room, a large dressing room big enough for a single bed room and a parlor 7 breadths of Brussels carpet wide and as long as 11 breadths. The parlor has a wide window in the middle of its length (All English windows are very wide, which is a great beauty) & another at one end. An open grate with a fire at the end, bronzes on the mantle piece & a mirror over it. On the long side opposite the window is a long mahogany sideboard inlaid with a white wood. On this sideboard is a gilt and alabaster clock & two gilt vases all under glass bells and a mirror runs the length of the sideboard & over it hangs one of those round diminishing mirrors. There is another mahogany sideboard with a marble top and mirror over it at one end of the room. There is an oblong mahogany table with a cloth in the middle of the room supported on a sort of claw. At each window there is a little mahogany stand. At the end of the room is a chess & backgammon table. There are two fauteuils before the fire. There are two ladies sewing chairs & six common chairs. One large screen & two fire screens complete the furniture of the room. The bed room measures 6 breadths by 7½. The furniture is all mahogany. There is a four post bedstead and canopy. Marble topped wash stand. High bureau, cheval glass, lace covered toilet table with mirror, bed side table, chairs, etc. The dressing room is just half the size of the bed room & contains a similar wash-stand, toilet table, bath tub, bureau, etc. The house is so quiet that no one would imagine there was another soul in it but ourselves.
    Charles Sanders Peirce,
Letter from Leamington to his family in America (1875)

    Pearl Detroit Taylor knew before she stepped off the train that she probably would not harm him too much. She had far subtler ways planned to exact her revenge. The illegitimate daughter of a black Detroit seamstress, she was a star. She was feted across Europe as a blues and jazz singer – the woman with the honeyed voice. She had carefully built a career and a reputation as the complete entertainer; a reputation that she was not about to give up in a fit of recklessness. However, despite all this hard earned prosperity and indeed adulation, she still bore the scars of the past. Amongst them, the complex currents of her mixed race, her own troubled history and the mystery concerning the identity of her real father. She also had a diva’s reputation for being ‘difficult’.

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