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He wandered through the house, straightening the odd lamp, rifling through a book left open on the spindly-legged table. Once, before hard times had befallen him, this house had been rich, bright, full of dresses and women that shone like jewels simpering on the perfectly-tailored arms of perfectly-bred men.
Dinner parties and intimate dances--they weren't the Lincolns or the Jeffersons or the Saint-Benets, but they were proper society. Old money. The right sort.
He sighed, wandering alone down the dark halls, admiring the fine weave of the carpet, the delicate woodwork, the high ceilings. His step was light, his grey-green eyes fond as he explored the space he knew better than his own visage.
Things changed, of course, as they often did. War was hard on business, cholera and consumption harder. So much lost, so much changed from those happy, light-hearted days. Still, he had the house.
Samuel grinned suddenly, the look changing his face from genteel and stable to wickedly mischievous. He turned and slipped through a secret door in the main dining hall, suddenly cloaked in the deepest shadows.
Of course, the very best thing about being old money was breaking the rules and playing with the wrong sort.
No one knew Violet House as he did. No one else had played here so well, so long. No one else had made love in the secret rooms, terrorized the servants and horrified the governesses. No one else had brought a bat in from the attic and set it loose in the kitchen.
Danced above the well in the yard.
Seduced the stable hand in the tack room.
His laughter, light and airy, echoed for him as he left the dark hall forthe bright warmth that was his own room.
Things changed, of course. They always did. Still, the house was his.
Violet House belonged to the Ogletrees and with the Ogletrees it would stay.