You know, I am starting to think the Gentleman with the Thistle-Down Hair may not be all that benevolent a fellow.
See, let’s review: he has both Lady Pole and Stephen Black dragged out to go dancing all night long, leading her to madness and him to exhaustion. Any attempt by either to tell anyone what’s happening to them causes the two to suddenly start speaking gibberish. Lady Pole gets the bright idea to embroider her sad state of affairs, but that might cause more problems. Those “more problems” would be Norrell’s righthand man Childermas sneaking into Stately Pole Manor and stealing the tapestry before she can finish it.
It seems Norrell is monitoring the letters Jonathan and Arabella are sending to each other to make sure Strange never finds out what Norrell did to resurrect Lady Pole. That’s done, in part, to keep Jonathan safe and try to limit the damage the Gentleman causes. Of course, it also is being done because Norrell is rather embarrassed at what he’s done in the name of bringing back English magic.
But that lack of information means when the Gentleman spots Arabella, he wants her to join his little menagerie too. What’s stopping him? She seems a little smarter than most and won’t agree to anything without consulting her husband first. Not that Jonathan is any expert on fairies, but at least it’s keeping Arabella safe for now.
But where is Strange? He’s in Portugal assisting Lord Wellington against Napoleon’s forces. He has a crate full of Norrell’s books, but those books are destroyed by a stray cannonball while Strange is trying (and failing) to move a forest. While Strange is being helpful in many ways, he isn’t always doing what Wellington wants (like move a forest) instead doing things that are helpful in other ways (like revive some dead Neapolitan soldiers for intelligence purposes).
But it looks like Wellington won the war, because Jonathan is soon home safe and sound, with Norrell wanting his books back. The only book that came back is the children’s biography of the Raven King that Arabella gave her husband when he became a magician.
But here’s the thing: Lady Pole is angry. She’s only 19 and has another 75 or so years ahead of her of the Gentleman tormenting her every night. About the only relief she gets is when the Gentleman is playing with Stephen, showing him his birth and telling him how Stephen will one day be a king.
That relief allows Lady Pole to break out of her secured room and then try to shoot Norrell on the street. The only thing that stops her is Childermas sensing her approach and jumping in the bullet’s path.
So, yeah, that Gentleman is up to no good.