lady nadine looked over her balcony and saw uncle charles sitting in the garden.
althea, she asked her niece, would you please go and tell uncle charles i wish to speak to him? he is sitting in the garden, beside the new roses.
of course, aunt, althea agreed.
althea made her way down to where uncle charles was seated, and found that he was asleep.
he looks so peaceful, althea thought. like he is having the most beautiful dreams any person has ever had. it would be a shame to wake him.
uncle charles? she asked a couple of times. barely in a whisper, but uncle charles did not respond, and althea decided that she had followed the letter of aunt nadine’s request, and returned to the house.
lady nadine was mildly annoyed but not seriously discountenanced by althea’s failure, as althea was little more than a child. she rang for her personal maid, soames, and instructed her to tell uncle charles that she , nadine, wished to see him.
he appears to be asleep, lady nadine instructed soames, but do not have any qualms about waking him.
yes, my lady, the dutiful soames replied.
but when soames reached the sleeping charles, she, like althea, thought she had never seen a creature, not even a dog or a cat, look so completely at peace with the world, and after a few half hearted shakes of his drooping left arm, she desisted and returned to the drawing room.
he just looked so peaceful, my lady, she explained to nadine. i did give hm a few good shakes, honest i did, but what could i do? i didn’t want to knock him out of the chair and on to the hard ground.
oh very well, lady nadine exclaimed. tell benton i wish to see him.
benton, the butler, arrived and was given his marching orders.
look here, benton, he is asleep unless he happens to have just woken up. i want you to bring him here. i do not care how annoyed he might be, do you understand? lady nadine felt like adding, it is i who am mistress of this house and charles is just a wretched parasite and hanger on without a penny of his own to his name, but of course she said nothing of the sort to a servant.
but when benton reached the still slumbering charles, his heart, too, went out to him.
lord bless me, benton thought, i have never seen a live soul look so at peace. a few dead ones in my time, but none still alive. and he made no effort to wake him.
i am sorry, my lady, he reported, but i could not wake him, not without getting positively violent. but he was breathing quite normally, so i do not think there is anything to fear on that score.
lady nadine admitted defeat. in that case, she sighed, summon cousin marcus instead. i believe you will find him in the library, working on his history of the hittite empire.