74. Sisterly Love

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And then, there came a knock from the door behind me.

"Lill? Lill, are you in there?"

Ella! My angel, my darling sister, my life-saver! I love you!

"Yes! Yes, I'm in here."

Something pushed against my back.

"Why won't the door open?"

"Because I'm standing against it."

"And why are you standing against the door?"

"Good question. Have been asking myself the same thing." Like a fox between a regiment of red coats, I slipped between Eve and Flora. Turning, I saw the door open. Ella stood in the doorway, looking from me to Patsy to Flora to Eve and then to me again. When her eyes fell on me, an expression of quiet gravity appeared on her face which I had seen only once before: when our neighbours' cat had gotten squashed by a coach and she had gone to deliver the news to the bereaved family.

"Patsy, Ella, Eve," she said without removing her gaze from me, "would you mind leaving me and my sister alone for a few minutes? There is something we have to discuss in private."

"Sorry, Ella, not right now. We were here first, so we get to talk first." She waved Ella off. "Go off and play, we've got serious things to talk about."

At this, Ella did not quail and shrink back, or hurry off with an apologetic 'I'm sorry to disturb you' as I expected – she raised her chin and met Patsy's eyes.

"So have I, and what I have to say cannot wait. I have to discuss something of the gravest importance with my sister. You will please leave now. You can talk to her after I'm finished."

Patsy's mouth dropped open. She was so surprised that she did something which she had never, ever done before: what she was told. Her feet started moving towards the door, while her eyes were fixed with utter disbelief on the little wisp of a blonde girl ordering her around.

"Err... I see. All right, Ella. We'll see you outside, Lilly." And with a last look at Ella, like a bulldog would look back at the chicken that has just chased him off his yard, she left the room, Eve and Flora in tow.

Closing the door behind them, Ella advanced towards me. She was smaller than me, but still she made me feel like a naughty child as she looked at me with those wide, blue, sincere eyes of hers. Her gaze could have made an archangel confess his secret sins.

"Lill," she said, shaking her head.

I waited for more, but nothing was forthcoming. It seemed she expected me to know what she meant without actually saying it. Clairvoyance, however, was not yet among my many talents.

"Ella," I said, hoping to encourage some further explanation through reciprocal brevity.

"Lill," she said again, with another very graceful and sad shake of the head.

"Ella."

This was getting a bit tedious. I wondered if I should broach a different subject, or for that matter, any subject. But then, it was taken out of my hands.

"Lill, please tell me nothing happened."

Ah! Finally, a variation.

Not that I understood was she meant, but still, it was progress.

"Fine. If you really want me to: Nothing happened. Nothing at all." I rubbed my head, which was still throbbing a bit. "Now can you please tell me when and where nothing was supposed to have happened?"

"Lill!"

"And while you're at it, tell me what kind of nothing happened that was supposed to have actually happened. I am a bit fogged, to be honest."

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