74. Sisterly Love

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"Lill, don't joke about this! This is serious!"

"Are you sure? I'm not, because I still don't have the foggiest idea what you're going on about."

At last some life flooded into Ella's face. She stepped forward, grasping me by the arm and shook it.

"Lill, pull yourself together! You were with a man last night, weren't you? That man!"

Actually, I had been with several dozen men, about half of which had been trying to kill me at one time or another. I didn't think it prudent to share this with my little sister, though. For some strange reason my aching head couldn't figure out, she seemed to think that the company of one man was already inexcusable. So I just said: "Yes, I was. What about it?"

Ella sucked in a breath.

"Oh God, Lill! Do you know what could have happened last night? Or... dear merciful Lord, what if it actually did?"

"Certainly I know," I mumbled. The pain wasn't getting better from the shaking. "I could have caught my death in that powder-room. Showers without boilers for hot water should be prohibited by law."

"Showers? Lill, what are you talking about?"

"What are you talking about? I still don't have a clue. You look at me as if you're not sure whether I should be confessing my sins in a month-long session, or thanking God on bending knees for escaping the jaws of hell. What's the matter with you?"

Ella bit her lip, hesitating. Whatever was biting her butt, it was something not easy for her to say.

"Did... it happen last night?"

"It? What it?"

"You know! It!"

"No, I don't know 'it'. I would be happy to make the acquaintance of 'it' and shake its hand, but only after you've explained to me what 'it' is."

"Well... it is... it! You know! It!"

"Thank you for that elucidating explanation, my dear little sister."

Ella bit her lip again. "Just... just tell me... what happened last night. Please."

I groaned. "I'm not actually very sure, you know. My memory of last night is a little vague."

"Oh." Again that lip-biting. This apparently came as an unpleasant surprise to her. No wonder. When you were about to preach to somebody about the grievousness of his sins, it's preferable that the sinner still remembers them. It saves quite a lot of confusion.

"Well... when you came home last night, you were intoxicated. Do you remember that?"

I pressed my hand to the left side of my head. The ache was particularly acute there.

"Oh yes. I remember that."

"And I undressed you and put you to bed. Do you remember that, too?"

"No. I think I might have been unconscious at the time. That sort of thing usually impedes my memory a little."

Ella was immune to sarcasm. It was a very useful skill at times.

"And before that, my dear sister? Do you remember anything of what passed before you returned home?"

"It's all a little hazy," I said, evasively. My quota of good lies had already been used up for the day. Plus, my head wasn't feeling its best today.

"You went to see him, didn't you?"

I blinked in confusion. "Him? Him who?"

"You know perfectly well who I mean! You went to see him! The young man you have been seeing."

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