By Anne Dean
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There was no way in which anyone could have got into the gallery. There could have been no one standing behind Harriet when Penelope turned back. ‘The only way into this gallery is up those steps,’ said the captain. ‘And Harriet and I were standing at the top of the steps all the time our party remained here,’ she said firmly. ’ She had now come back to the head of the stairs and she found that she was rather cold. She pulled her pelisse closer about her and descended the first two steps – to the place from which Penelope had fallen.
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. ’ She gave a weary smile. ‘Now go please,’ she urged. ’ Dido left the sickroom and walked slowly down the elegant sweep of Madderstone Abbey’s great staircase, pausing for a moment to gaze over the curve of the banister to the pattern of coloured marble on the hall floor below.
Now, if we were on board ship, it would be a different matter. Some men get overwrought when they have been a long time at sea, Miss Kent, and imagine that they see all manner of things. Why, I remember one occasion …’ ‘But we are not at sea, Captain Laurence,’ interrupted Dido who was in no mood for naval talk. She began to walk along the uneven stones of the gallery. ’ she mused. ’ ‘There cannot have been anyone here in the gallery,’ said the captain as he followed her, ‘for you see there is no door here,’ he waved a hand at the blank walls.