Betrayal at Lisson Grove

Betrayal at Lisson Grove by Anne Perry Page A

Book: Betrayal at Lisson Grove by Anne Perry Read Free Book Online
Authors: Anne Perry
enough of the idea at least to believe her? She must make sure he did not imagine it was in any way his fault.
    Then she must tackle the real task of the day: finding someone trustworthy with whom to leave her children, and do it instantly. Put in such simple words, the thought overwhelmed her. She stood in her nightgown in the centre of the bedroom floor, cold with failure.
    And yet she must go. She must fight for a future better than Pitt going from place to place trying to find a job for which he was suited, and for which someone would hire him. It would humiliate him. He had commanded men in Bow Street, required all manner of people to answer his questions, gone into great houses through the front door, not at the back like a beggar.
    Standing here shivering would achieve nothing. She might as well get dressed while she weighed it up. A white blouse and a plain brown skirt would be fine. She was going to do chores, after all.
    When Charlotte went downstairs, Mrs Waterman was waiting in the hall, her one suitcase by the door. Charlotte was tempted to be sorry for her, but the moment passed. There was too much to do for her to relent, even if Mrs Waterman wanted her to. This was an inconvenience. There were disasters on the horizon.
    ‘Good morning, Mrs Waterman,’ she said politely. ‘I am sorry you feel it necessary to go, but perhaps in the circumstances it is better. You will forgive me if I do not draw this out. I have to find someone to replace you by this evening. I hope you find yourself suited very soon. Good day to you.’
    ‘I’m sure I will, ma’am,’ Mrs Waterman replied, and with such conviction that it flashed across Charlotte’s mind to wonder if perhaps she already had. Sometimes domestic staff, especially cooks, found a cause to give notice in order to avail themselves of a position they preferred, or thought more advantageous for themselves.
    ‘Yes, I imagine you will land on your feet,’ Charlotte said a trifle brusquely.
    Mrs Waterman gave her a cold look, drew breath to respond, then changed her mind and opened the front door. With some difficulty she dragged her case outside, then went to the kerb to hail a cab.
    Charlotte closed the door as Jemima came down the stairs. She would be Charlotte’s height by the time she was a woman, and – from the softer lines of her body and the air of confidence as she walked – that was not far away.
    ‘Where’s Mrs Waterman going?’ she asked. ‘It’s breakfast time.’
    There was no point in evasion. ‘She is leaving us,’ Charlotte replied quietly.
    ‘At this time in the morning?’ Jemima’s eyebrows rose. They were elegant, slightly winged, exactly like Charlotte’s own.
    ‘It was that, or last night,’ Charlotte answered.
    ‘Did she steal something?’ Jemima reached the bottom stair. ‘Are you sure? She’s so terribly good I can’t believe she’d do that. She’d never be able to face herself in the glass. Come to think of it, perhaps she doesn’t anyway. She might crack it.’
    ‘Jemima! That is rude, and most unkind,’ Charlotte said sharply. ‘But true,’ she added. ‘I did not ask her to leave. It is actually very inconvenient indeed . . .’
    Daniel appeared at the top of the stairs, considered sliding down the banister, saw his mother at the bottom, and changed his mind. He came down the steps in a self-consciously dignified manner, as if that had always been his intention.
    ‘Is Mrs Waterman going?’ he asked hopefully.
    ‘She’s already gone,’ Charlotte answered.
    ‘Oh, good. Is Gracie coming back?’
    ‘No, of course she isn’t,’ Jemima put in. ‘She’s married. She’s got to stay at home and look after her husband. We’ll get someone else, won’t we, Mama?’
    ‘Yes. As soon as we’ve had breakfast and you’ve gone to school, I shall begin looking.’
    ‘Where do you look?’ Daniel asked curiously as he followed her down the passage to the kitchen. It was shining clean after last night’s

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