35. Problems? What Problems?

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I worked as hard as I could throughout the day. Yet the longer I worked, the more my thoughts wandered from my work and to Ella and my own men-problem. Well, man, really, not men. I probably wouldn't be able to think straight anymore if I had more than one of those creatures hounding me. Lieutenant Ellingham was quite enough.

 How the devil am I supposed to get rid of him? I demanded of myself, while puffing under the weight of a hundred heavy files.

He didn't seem to mind that my family didn't have much money, or that I didn't have ladylike manners. He only seemed to care for my family's respectable name, which would help him in his advancement in the military.

Hm... Can you get rid of respectable family name?

Well, short of changing my name or committing suicide, neither of which seemed a very good idea, I could only do something so humongously stupid and dishonourable that it would disgrace my entire family.

Then why not do that? Sounds easy enough for someone as talented as you.

True, I had no trouble of thinking of possibilities – I could ride through the marble arch, which only the Queen was allowed to do. I could dance naked on top of the marble arch, which not even the Queen was allowed to do. I could make a handstand in Hannover Square and start singing the French National Anthem. I could rob the bank of England.

The last idea sounds nice. Then you can quit this bloody job and go lead a life of adventure, going to see the Rain Forests and the Great Wall of China!

But, Alas, I was afraid that even dressed up as a man, nobody would take me serious as a bank robber.  You probably had to be six foot five for that, with a mask and a pistol.


Surprised, I looked down and saw that three messages lying in front of me on the desk. I had been so consumed with my own thoughts that I hadn't noticed them coming in. The first two were the usual missives from his mightiness, reminding me to bring him file number 35X119 and hurry up about it. The third one was different.

Mr Linton,

Taking into account your negligence in answering my messages, I must assume that something is the matter with you. Is it the same business as earlier today, the business we are never ever going to talk about anymore?

Rikkard Ambrose

I couldn't suppress a grin as I answered:

Dear Mr Ambrose,

No, that business we are never ever going to talk about again is not a problem – at least not yet. I am sorry for my negligence. I will bring the files immediately.

Yours Sincerely,

Miss Lilly Linton

But before I could rise, another message plopped onto my desk.

Mr Linton,

If it is not that problem bothering you, what is the matter?

Rikkard Ambrose.

My jaw dropped. Was I reading correctly? I reread the message. Then I turned on its head, and tried to read it like that, thinking I might be able to put a different construction on the words. Finally, I closed my eyes for ten seconds, yet when I opened them, the impossible words were still there.

My hand shaking slightly from the shock, I quickly composed an answer.

Dear Mr Ambrose,

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