“Well, you have turned down social invitations in the past.”
“The twins were ill Annabella, I couldn’t very well leave them!”
“That’s what a nanny is for!”
“Nanny Webster was ill and ready for retirement. Since she retired, we have not replaced her.”
“Well I feel that you should. I could recommend a few nannies.”
“We can manage. I may go to the agency.” Lucinda stated politely, in attempt to close the conversation. She glanced at the oak Grandfather clock.
“My Goodness! Is that the time? It’s almost midnight!”
Annabella raised an eyebrow. “You’re not Cinderella are you?” She laughed.
“You know, Cinderella’s dress turns to rags at midnight.”
“Annabella, if that was intended as an insult then I am most hurt!”
“Oh of course it wasn’t! Don’t be such a silly goose!”
“Pray, excuse me, I must find Edward, we had discussed that we would leave no later than 11.30pm.”
Lucinda scurried out of the room and up the fine, carpeted staircase. She knocked on the first door on her left, turning the hand-painted door knob and wafting away the thick plume of smoke from one of George’s numerous cigars, catching a glimpse of the outline of her husband.
“My dear, is all alright. You’re not feeling ill again are you?”
“No, only, it’s midnight.”
“Ah so it is, are you sure that nothing troubles you?”
“I’m tired and would like to return to the children.”
“Very well my dear. I am always happy to oblige.”
George smiled. “Then, I too must find my wife.”
Annabella sat in one of the high backed armchairs, playing with one of her long ringlets, a tiny kitten sat on her knee.
“Lucinda! You have returned. I had forgotten to show you my latest present! This is Muffet, my new kitten, isn’t she a little doll of a thing?”
She held up the tiny, tortoise shell kitten. “Why, Annabella, she’s tiny. She must be very young indeed.”
“Well of course she is silly, she’s a kitten!”
“No, I what I meant is, she is perhaps too young to be separated from her Mother. Surely, she is not two weeks old yet?”
“She is 3 weeks of age. She squeaks all the time, I can’t think why?”
“I couldn’t tell you. Edward? Are you near by?”
“Yes dear.” He called. “In the next room.” He walked out, standing in the doorway.
“Edward, I think we should go, we can’t take advantage of this wonderful hospitality any longer.”
Annabella pursed her lips, but nodded. “Very well, as you please. Johnson, would you get their outdoor wear?”
Lucinda kissed Annabella politely. “Thank you for inviting us to such a splendid dinner party.”
“It is our pleasure, but has something upset you? You look rather pale and peaky. Not yourself.”
George outstretched his hand to Edward, which he took gladly. “I very much enjoyed our chat Edward.”
“And I also George, I have found your company most pleasant.”
“The pleasure is all mine. Goodnight friend.”
With that Edward and Lucinda exited through the front door, walking along the cobbled path to where their horse and carriage was waiting.
“Lucinda, whatever is the matter?”
“There is! Something has upset you, come on now, don’t try and hid your emotions.”
“It-it is only something small and silly.”
“Edward,promise that you wont think or say that I’m fool?”
“Have I ever?”
“Then, you must tell me all.”
“That-that kitten was far too young to be taken away from her Mother! It was like she was crying for her, Muffet was only three weeks old. A kitten shouldn’t be separated until it is six weeks of age!”
“Ah. Don’t worry. She will take good care of the little kitten I’m sure. Is that truly what this is all about?”
“Yes!” She sobbed.
“I feel that you are tired and would benefit from a good nights sleep in case you are a little under the weather. Don’t worry about a thing. I will check on the twins if you would like go upstairs.”
He embraced her, holding her close. “Goodnight my love, I’ll join you in a minute and don’t you worry about a thing.”
To be continued…