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Lady Vanessa Hertford 

A handsome woman from a privileged background, she is now in her early fifties. She is one of those women that seem able to keep their figure and good looks with little effort. Once a lady in waiting to the queen, and then mistress to King Charles V, to whom she bore a son. She still has an affection for the King but understands that it can never be publicly reciprocated. 

She is highly intelligent and understands the intricacies of the Darwinian society. She is currently employed by the King as a go-between, a problem solver, and a source of advice and intelligence. She hopes that one day, her illegitimate son will be given a position of importance, and, with a bit of luck, he might even marry into privileged society, if not royalty himself. 

There is a rumour that she once had an affair with a Spanish attaché. This indiscretion became something of a scandal as it was seen as a betrayal to the royal house and a possible compromise to national security. 

As it happened, the affair ended abruptly just before the Spanish attempted to retake Puerto Rico from the Americans. A Spanish fleet, consisting of an invasion force and an escort, was intercepted and destroyed by the American fleet. How the Americans knew of the supposedly secret, Spanish invasion, and how it was that the escorting warships were ‘distracted’ from their task of protecting their less well-armed transports, is unclear. 

It was noted that within three months of the abortive invasion, the Spanish Crown finally ceded Puerto Rico to the USA and Lady Hertford acquired a country estate, courtesy of the American ambassador in London. 

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Illustrations by

Richard Verlander

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