Flora Greysteel

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The daughter of a physician, Lancelot Greysteel, travelling with his family on the Continent, Flora Greysteel is a young woman to whom Jonathan Strange becomes much attached during the period when he believes his wife to be dead. Though he does not openly declare his feelings, Flora is soon sensible of them and finds herself much drawn to him[51]. Later however, realizing that Strange's wife is alive and he is no longer free to turn his affections elsewhere, she so works upon her passionate emotions as to subdue them at last into friendship[60]. This friendship she heroically proves by accepting the charge of being the first protector of Arabella Strange when the latter is finally released from her enslavement in Faerie[60,68].

Miss Greysteel's mother being dead, she has been raised largely by her father and his sister. We are told that in appearance Miss Greysteel is pretty, with a translucent complexion improved by the breezes of the Adriatic, and that she sometimes wears a white muslin gown. We are also to understand she plays the pianoforte[51]. This perhaps may make her sound like a great many other young Englishwomen who are to be met with making the Continental tour, but she has more sterling qualities than these. She reads; she is interested in the history of English magic (or at least, she is so after she meets Jonathan Strange)[53]; she has powers of penetration unusual in one so young; and the reputation, as her aunt tells her, of being "more clear-headed and steady than other people". Her aunt's judgment might be set down to family partiality were it not that later events fully support it. For example, needing Miss Greysteel's help in the rescue of his wife Jonathan Strange pursues her to Padua and, as he is still labouring under the fairy's curse, he appears to her there wrapped in the shroud of Eternal Darkness and accompanied by Storm and Rain. Now, any young woman might be expected to quail at such an approach, but Miss Greysteel does not flinch. Instead she instantly hurries to his aid. And not only does she promise her help, she is quick to perceive the harmful effects of his indulgence in the tincture of madness, has influence enough with him to dissuade him from its further use, and wit enough to dispose of it where it can do no more harm[60].

Further proof of Miss Greysteel's personal charms may be found in Lord Byron's exclamation on first meeting her father, "Ah!...The physician with the beautiful daughter!"[56]; and the interest she immediately arouses in the gentleman with the thistle-down hair[54]. (And to be candid, it is hard to say which of these two admirers would alarm a careful parent more.) Later still we learn that a gallant young Irish captain visiting Padua feels a strong regard for Miss Greysteel, though we do not hear if it is mutual; or even whether he summons up courage enough to court her directly.

Miss Greysteel's manners are elegant but never squeamish. Early in her friendship with Strange, when she has cause to suspect he has formed an improper attachment with another, she neither withdraws into sulky ill-temper nor feigns too much delicacy to give him a hint about the reason for her coolness. Her candour brings forth an explanation that completely clears the air[51].