NB: Excerpts do contain SPOILERS.
William Ransom, ninth earl of Ellesmere, viscount [ ], [etc.] shoved his way through the crowds on Broad Street, oblivious to the complaints of those rebounding from his impact.
He didn’t know where he was going, or what he might do when he got there. All he knew was that he’d burst if he stood still.
His head throbbed like an inflamed boil. Everything throbbed. His hand—he’d probably broken something, but he didn’t care. His heart, pounding and sore inside his chest. His foot, for God’s sake, what, had he kicked something? He lashed out viciously at a loose cobblestone, and sent it rocketing through a crowd of geese, who set up a huge cackle and lunged at him, hissing and beating at his shins with their wings.
Feathers and goose-shit flew wide, and the crowd scattered in all directions.
“Bastard!” shrieked the goose-girl, and struck at him with her crook, catching him a shrewd thump on the ear. “Devil take you, schmutzige bastard!”
This sentiment was echoed by a number of other angry voices, and he veered into an alley, pursued by shouts and honks of agitation.
He rubbed his throbbing ear, lurching into buildings as he passed, oblivious to everything but the one word throbbing ever louder in his head. Bastard.
“Bastard!” he said out loud, and shouted “Bastard, bastard, bastard!!” at the top of his lungs, hammering at the brick wall next to him with a clenched fist.
“Who’s a bastard?” said a curious voice behind him. He swung round to see a young woman looking at him with some interest. Her eyes moved slowly down his frame, taking note of the heaving chest, the bloodstains on the facings of his uniform coat and green smears of gooseshit on his breeches, reached his silver buckled shoes, and returned to his face with more interest.
“I am,” he said, hoarse and bitter.
“Oh, really?” She left the shelter of the doorway in which she’d been standing, and came across the alley to stand right in front of him. She was tall and slim, and had a very fine pair of high young breasts—which were clearly visible under the thin muslin of her shift, because while she had a silk petticoat, she wore no stays. No cap, either—her hair fell loose over her shoulders. A whore.
“I’m partial to bastards, myself,” she said, and touched him lightly on the arm. “What kind of bastard are you? A wicked one? An evil one?”
“A sorry one,” he said, and scowled when she laughed. She saw the scowl, but didn’t pull back.
“Come in,” she said, and took his hand. “You look as though you could do with a drink.” He saw her glance at his knuckles, burst and bleeding, and she caught her lower lip behind small white teeth. She didn’t seem afraid, though, and he found himself drawn unprotesting into the shadowed doorway after her.
What did it matter? he thought, with a sudden savage weariness. What did anything matter?