By Anne Dean

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Sample text

You need an assistant. ’ ‘Now,’ said Harriet, folding her arms and frowning, ‘you are being satirical – and you know that I particularly dislike your being satirical. ’ ‘But …’ Just then the patient began to stir and both women turned to look at her. Harriet went to her side immediately. ‘Please, Dido, just do as I ask and take Lucy home. And … as for an assistant …’ She paused and watched the face upon the pillow thoughtfully for a moment. ‘If they can do without old Nanny at home, then tell them to send her.

It was an opinion which she might have expressed yesterday at Madderstone – if there had been an opportunity. For, no sooner had Captain Laurence carried the insensible Penelope into the hall of the great house, than Lucy had broken out with: ‘She saw the Grey Nun on the gallery! And the fright made her fall. It is true. ’ Dido had tried to intervene at this point with a suggestion that it was not certain that it was the nun she had seen. That she had not exactly named her … But reasoned argument was quite out of the question just then, for all the while Lucy was talking, Mr Harman-Foote was booming out orders for a man to ride to the village for the surgeon, and his wife was giving very exact directions as to how Penelope must be carried up the stairs.

He shook his head. ‘N … no,’ he managed at last. ‘It was not thought possible. The sides of the pool slope so gently, you know. ’ Lucy reached for her lavender water and I was in fear of the hysterics. But, luckily, the delay caused by his stammering prevented it. She could not very well give way to hysterics while she must wait and coax him into an answer. ’ There was a silence while Lucy considered this – and I began to hope that she might after all forgive poor Mr Wishart his shortcomings, since his opinion at least furnished her with a great deal to feed her imagination.

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