Marshall Godfrey the 8th Viscount Raynham is in need of a wife, but his strenuous efforts to acquire one through normal channels have failed. He's out of patience and out of time. His twin sisters are being launched into society, but he can only hear within a very short distance. How can he protect them if no one tells him what people are saying? His plan is to hire a woman to hover at his shoulder and repeat into his ear what people are saying, but he can't take a secretary into polite society.
The fourteenth applicant is a thin bonneted creature in old ill-fitting clothes. She slowly unties the ribbons and removes the hideous hat hiding her face. She isn't ugly, but. Marshall's unfavourable assessment is suspended as the small window behind the solicitor's desk becomes a golden square. Sunshine breaks through the overcast sky, bends around several corners and showers the woman with light. She looks like she's stepped out of the Dutch paintings he saw on his grand tour. Poetic words sprout through his melancholy like brightly coloured tulips. She's plain, but there's something pleasing about the woman with honey coloured hair.
She can't possibly be the one. She probably has an irritating voice. She's probably in love with some Vicar. She probably smells like a close stool. She'll probably be unfit for purpose. He meets her curious expression with a scowl, she looked hungry. If she passes all the tests she'll be more inclined to become a temporary wife.