The Eynsford-Hills lived in Covent Garden, in a high brick house surrounded by a sleek black fence. The house looked more or less as posh as the houses surrounding it; if anything, it gleamed a little too brightly.
The gardens were exquisite. It was rumored they were tended by Mrs. Eynsford-Hill herself, who planted a breathtaking array of every flower imaginable. Mrs. Eynsford-Hill was rather flowerlike herself, and the image was exultant in her labor.
The interior of the Eynsford-Hill residence was similarly lush, but there, it was whispered that the interior gardens were to cover up the rather dilapidated rooms. That, surely, was also the work of Mrs. Eynsford-Hill, for Mr. Eynsford-Hill — or Freddy, as most people called him — would no sooner know how to decorate a room than he would know how to earn a shilling.
There were very few people who dreamed of calling Mrs. Eynsford-Hill “Eliza”, though that was her name. She had few students and fewer friends. There was no family at all to be seen. It was rumored that she had a sinfully rich father somewhere in America, who occasionally sent them fifty pounds when they were particularly hard up, for the Eynsford-Hills were the very definition of genteel poverty.
Four days a week, students of phonetics filed into the house and tramped into the sun room. Those lessons supplied almost the entirety of the family’s income. No one knew where Eliza had studied, or what she taught the students, but in the sun room, she managed singlehandedly to keep her family afloat.