66. Hallucination Manicure

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"Mr Linton."


"Mr Linton, wake up. We have to go inside."

"Why?" I mumbled, unwilling to open my eyes.

"Because... Well, because I say so!"

I chuckled. I knew that voice. Cold. Commanding.

"Not good enough," I murmured.

"You are still in my employ, Mr Linton. You have to do what I say."

"Not after hours, Sir." A yawn escaped me. Talking was tiring business. Maybe I should just go back to sleep. I was lying on something so comfortable...

The comfortable thing shifted and grabbed me.

"If you don't get up, Mr Linton, I'm going to carry you. Either way, you will get out of this chaise."

Oh. Mr Ambrose. It was Mr Ambrose I was lying on. How had that happened? I was sure he hadn't volunteered to be my personal sofa.

"Did you hear me, Mr Linton? I will drag you out of here, whether you want to or not."

For a moment I considered letting him do it. Truth be told, I felt too warm and fuzzy to think about walking. Being carried might actually be nice. However, the moment that thought of weakness popped into my head, the vigilant feminist inside me reasserted herself. I might utilize men as a couch, I might even allow them to pay me wages. But the day I allowed a man to carry me in his arms because I felt too unsteady on my poor little feminine feet would be the day I publicly confessed to being a chimpanzee.



Blindly I groped around, grabbing Mr Ambrose and pushing myself into a sitting position.

"Be careful with my coat, Mr Linton! It's only ten years old and..."

"...still in mint condition." I nodded. "Yes, I know. You've told me before. I'm not stupid, you know."

"Maybe not. But you are drunk."

"Drunk? Me? Of course I'm not drunk!" Outraged, I staggered out of the chaise. How dare he suggest such a thing? I was stone-cold sober! And I had plenty of witnesses to the fact. Grasping the carriage wheel to support me, I pointed with my free hand at the yellow piggy sitting beside the driver. "Ask him over there, if you don't believe me."

"Me?" The driver looked taken aback. "Well, Sir, I could not hazard a guess as to..."

"Not you! The Pig."

"Pig? What pig?"

The driver's nervousness seemed to increase. What was the matter with him? A yellow pig wasn't something you could miss easily, was it?

"Forget it, Godwin." Mr Ambrose appeared beside me. With a jerk of his head, he indicated to the driver and the yellow piggy that they should leave. "Take the chaise away and care for the horse."

He was obviously bent on ignoring my logical arguments! So typically male!

"Yes, Sir, only..." the driver hesitated. "What about the other men, Sir? I should go back and..."

"Warren will have reached the tavern by now with all the reinforcements he could muster," Mr Ambrose cut him off. "Do as you're told. I and Mr Linton will go inside now."

"Yes, Sir. As you wish, Sir."

Climbing from the box, the driver and the yellow piggy started doing Mr Ambrose's bidding, leading the horse and carriage away. The power of this man was unbelievable! Even little yellow animals were under his power, even though I was sure they weren't on his payroll!

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