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The eldest cousin

‘Here is Michael at last. Jane, permit me to introduce you to the eldest of your cousins.’ I stared as he bowed in greeting. It was true Sir Donald had said nothing of his appearance,...

Welcome to Carmaliot

The village huddled in a valley fold, its single street rising fairly steeply between converging slopes. Above and beyond the clutter of buildings, on the horizon, an immensely larger house was silhouetted against a sky...

A smiling sacrifice

The morning was grey to match my feelings, and bitingly cold. Sir Donald was handed in to sit with his back to the coachman, and I was placed opposite. I was permitted to have the...

A fine gentleman

It was just after four o’clock that Sir Donald arrived, by growler and unaccompanied. I had expected something more impressive: a private carriage and a retinue of servants. But it was a rare occasion even...

A stiff white hand

They brought him back from the dockyard on a cart. It was a cold day, with drizzling rain, and the men who accompanied the body were wet and bedraggled. They had covered him with a...

Honouring the dead

The graveyard was not far from the house, less than ten minutes on foot, but the Jelains insisted on the carriage. Sarnia was still too weak to walk out, Mrs Jelain declared, and Edmund supported the argument. In fact, Sarnia was not sorry to acquiesce. Although she had ceased taking Dr Falla’s potion, a lethargy clung to her mind and her limbs felt weak. She was grateful for the help of Edmund’s arm as he led her from the landau to the graveyard.

A need to touch

The lawn behind the Manoir was even better kept, of still more ancient tending, than the one in front; but where that had a circle’s regular shape, this stretched out among cypresses and gnarled magnolias...

The world grows worse

They set out next morning, with a tide and a fresh south-easterly. Mr Fernie’s boat was larger and better kept than Tostevin’s, a two-masted ketch newly painted green, with a crew of two men and...

Leave of absence

‘How did you get leave of absence from the bank?’

‘Mr Merton granted it. I asked for it in lieu of the holiday I was to have later in the summer. He readily agreed – you know how indulgent he is.’

She said quickly: ‘You did not tell him that you were alarmed on my account?’

‘I did not speak of you at all. I spoke of an aunt at Southampton who was ill, and needed me.’