73. Victory Party

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With a cry like a hunting-hawk, Eve burst into the room and jumped onto my bed with a force that jarred my teeth and made little fireworks of agony explode in my aching skull.

"Lilly, where have you been? We waited for you, hours after the event yesterday, and searched all over the place for you, and asked people, but they told us you left in a coach and we didn't know where you were so we came back here but then you didn't come home and so we didn't know where you were again and waited some more but you still didn't come so we decided to go home when it got dark but we were so worried and you must never do anything like that to us ever again, understand? We're all so terribly angry with you!"

She hugged me as if I were her favourite kitten and pressed a kiss on my forehead.

"Yes," I told her. "I can see how terribly angry you are."

"Shut up! You're a genius! A bloody genius! Did you know that? Well, you probably did, but just in case you didn't, I'm going to tell you: you're a genius!"

She hugged me again. Over her shoulder, I could see the figure of our ancient Butler, Leadfield, as he hobbled down the landing and respectfully stopped at the open door, not daring to enter a lady's room.

"Forgive me, Miss, but these... females simply forced their way into the house and insisted on seeing you. Should I..."

"It's no problem, Leadfield," I assured him, while attempting to duck out of the way of another of Eve's hugs. They were more than my head could take right now. "They're my friends. You remember Patsy, don't you? She came by last month to tea."

The old butler opened his mouth to give a reply, but you had to be quicker than that to be part of the conversation while Eve was in the room.

"You're a genius!" She burst out again. "An absolute genius. You know, at first we were so angry with you after you left us standing in Green Park – Patsy was foaming at the mouth!"

"She was?"

"Yes, and I didn't know what to do, take her to be checked for rabies or go after you and try to bring you to your senses or something else; there were a million ideas flying around in my head at the same time, you know how it is."

"I can guess."

"But we had already made the signs, and we couldn't just not go through with it because you had the jitters."

"Very admirable. But Eve..."

I should have known any attempt to stop her was in vain.

"And then we showed up there, and you appeared up on the stage, all dressed in men's clothes, and gave a speech! A speech! And everybody listened! And cheered! Long live suffragism! Oh Lilly!"

She hugged me again, but this time, I wasn't trying to fight her off. My attention was focused on Leadfield, who was still standing at the door. There were two red patches on his normally pallid face, and his eyes were about to pop out of their sockets.

"Dressed in men's clothes?" He gasped. "Miss Lilly! What in the Lord's name...!"

"Not in public," I groaned, hurriedly planting a hand over Eve's over-eager mouth to shut her up. "It was charades! We were playing charades."

"Oh! I see, Miss." The old chap's eyes retreated into their sockets, his frame visibly relaxing. He shook his head with all the bewilderment a sensible servant could muster at the upper classes' strange habit of dressing up in all sorts of insane clothing for fun. "Well, far be it from me, Miss, to begrudge you and your young friends your amusement."

"Thank you, Leadfield."

"Do you require anything? Master's old hats and coats? His Indian turban? The old cook's apron?"

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