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datatime: 2022-11-27 03:48:25 Author:dgtqbqGp

"Not on purpose, Mrs. Ramage," Ian said.

"Did ye speak, young sair?" Mrs. Ramage, the Carmichaels" crotchety but lovable old housekeeper, asked him as she came in from the pantry. As usual, her mobcap was askew and she smelled of the snuff she still firmly believed, after all these years, to be a secret vice.

"Dear old Geoffrey" He spoke it aloud this time as he stepped into the huge and stuporously warm West Country kitchen.

The moisture running down his cheeks now was not rainwater but tears.

Get them as far under as you can, he thought blindly. Make sure you do that so if she changes the bed she won't pull them out with the ground sheet. Get them as far under as you . . . you . . .

"Did ye speak, young sair?" Mrs. Ramage, the Carmichaels" crotchety but lovable old housekeeper, asked him as she came in from the pantry. As usual, her mobcap was askew and she smelled of the snuff she still firmly believed, after all these years, to be a secret vice.

Get them as far under as you can, he thought blindly. Make sure you do that so if she changes the bed she won't pull them out with the ground sheet. Get them as far under as you . . . you . . .

Although Ian Carmichael would not have moved from Little Dunthorpe for all the jewels in the Queen's treasury, he had to admit to himself that when it rained in Cornwall it rained harder than anywhere else in England.

"All done?" she asked a few moments later.

"I am," he said. "It hurts . . . too much. My knee, mostly. Where you . . . uh, where you lost your temper. I'm not ready to be picked up. Could I have five minutes to . . . to . . . " He knew what he wanted to say but it was drifting away from him. Drifting away and into the gray. He looked at her helplessly, knowing he was going to be caught after all.

He shoved the last under the mattress, then leaned back and looked up at the ceiling, where the W's danced drunkenly across the plaster.

She got him over to the side of the bed.

"Yes." He actually had needed to urinate quite badly - in all the excitement he hadn't had time to think of such things.

"Yes." He actually had needed to urinate quite badly - in all the excitement he hadn't had time to think of such things.

"I am," he said. "It hurts . . . too much. My knee, mostly. Where you . . . uh, where you lost your temper. I'm not ready to be picked up. Could I have five minutes to . . . to . . . " He knew what he wanted to say but it was drifting away from him. Drifting away and into the gray. He looked at her helplessly, knowing he was going to be caught after all.

"All done?" she asked a few moments later.

Geoffrey was right, of course - dear old Geoffrey was rarely wrong - but sometimes when he was alone, the Gearless of Misery's escape from the Grim Reaper came forcibly home to him, and it was nearly impossible to hold the tears back. He loved her so much; without her he would die. Without Misery, there would simply be no life left for him, or in him.

The moisture running down his cheeks now was not rainwater but tears.

"I am," he said. "It hurts . . . too much. My knee, mostly. Where you . . . uh, where you lost your temper. I'm not ready to be picked up. Could I have five minutes to . . . to . . . " He knew what he wanted to say but it was drifting away from him. Drifting away and into the gray. He looked at her helplessly, knowing he was going to be caught after all.

He shoved the last under the mattress, then leaned back and looked up at the ceiling, where the W's danced drunkenly across the plaster.

"Just a minute longer, Paul, and you can take a snooze."

He remembered Geoffrey saying You must not cry in front of her, old man - that is the one thing you must never do

She got him over to the side of the bed.

"Annie, could you wait five minutes?" he managed. She looked at him, gaze narrowing slightly. "I thought you were in a lot of pain, buster."

He shoved the last under the mattress, then leaned back and looked up at the ceiling, where the W's danced drunkenly across the plaster.

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