SETTING: A library, Edwardian in style. At stage left, a teenage girl, CORA, is sitting at a desk and writing, as her tutor, PHINEAS looks on.
PHINEAS: Now Cora, would you remind me the common name of the narcissus?
CORA: Ah... A daffodil? And it's named after the demi-god who was very handsome but also very vain.
PHINEAS: Both are correct. You're doing quite well, I daresay you're even surpassing your brother.
CORA: I hope you mean Nigel and not Frederick.
PHINEAS: Frederick isn't ready for Botany yet, although Nigel does better with Literature than science.
(CORA's mother, ISABEL ALICIA, enters stage right.)
ISABEL ALICIA: Coraline, it's time for your dance lesson.
CORA: Must I go? It'll be the last I see Dr. LeClare before he goes to Lochere next week.
PHINEAS: I'll only be gone for the week, my father requested me home to help with his latest project.
ISABEL ALICIA: I do hope it's not another impossible machine.
PHINEAS: You're so much like your father, your ladyship, you only see things for what they are. Nobody said impossible.
ISABEL ALICIA: Go on, Coraline. Your dance lesson is starting soon, and Madame Danica is waiting.
CORA: Yes, mother... (Exits stage right)
PHINEAS: She's doing very well. She's bright.
ISABEL ALICIA: As expected. (Beat) I wouldn't expect anything less from one of your children.
PHINEAS: Must we still keep this from her?
ISABEL ALICIA: That she's not really a Faraday? Yes, if we want her, not to mention our reputations to remain intact.
PHINEAS: You know, it hurts me to lie to her, Belle.
ISABEL ALICIA: I know, me too, but it's for all our sakes. The world is still quite old fashioned. I doubt either of our countries would take well to a well-respected scientist having an affair with a married baroness. It wouldn't matter if we're good people or not.
PHINEAS: I still wish you could leave the Baron Faraday, or that you hadn't married him at all.
ISABEL ALICIA: It would still create a scandal if I left him for you, since we both know we can't stay away from each other. As for the latter... I suppose that was my own fault, not having realized our feelings for each other sooner. (She chuckles) I honestly thought those poems you wrote me in your letters were just you trying to show off.
PHINEAS: I kind of was, and I guess I should have been more straightforward.
ISABEL ALICIA: You were trying, I just didn't notice. We'd been writing each other since we were children, so I should have. I didn't realize until after I married Oswald.
PHINEAS: Did you ever love him?
ISABEL ALICIA: I did at one point. He was saying all the right things, and he was the right match. But as soon as Nigel was born, it just wasn't thrilling anymore. I guess it was all obligation. (She strokes his cheek) I only know what passion is because of you.
PHINEAS: I can say the same, for another person. I've always loved you, Belle.
ISABEL ALICIA: And I you, Phin. (She kisses him)
(CORA reenters, holding a book, but stays far stage right, and listens in. ISABEL ALICIA and PHINEAS do not notice her when the kiss is broken)
ISABEL ALICIA: I should repeat Coraline's sentiments, must you really go?
PHINEAS: As I've said to her, it's only for the week. I'll be back before you even notice I'm gone.
ISABEL ALICIA: I find that hard to believe, you're a hard person to miss.
PHINEAS: I try.
ISABEL ALICIA: You know, Coraline adores you so much. Sometimes I think some part of her knows the truth. (Beat) That she's your flesh and blood.
(CORA drops her book, and runs offstage)
ISABEL ALICIA: What was that?
PHINEAS: Lise, I hope. She's a lot better with secrets than Angelica.
ISABEL ALICIA: (Looks stage left) Nobody.
PHINEAS: Perhaps we should continue in the garden. (Offers her his arm) Shall we?
ISABEL ALICIA: Absolutely.
(ISABEL ALICIA AND PHINEAS exit stage right)
CORA: (Calling) Yes, Madame, I'll only need a moment. (She sits back at the desk) (Beat) (To the audience) I only dreamt that. It can't be true... (She buries her face in her hands)