Escapade
topple the old dear onto the breadboard and have a go at her. Did I get that right, Doctor?”
    “You oversimplify, Sir David, I am afraid.” Dr. Auerbach turned to the Great Man. “What Herr Doktor Freud has established, you see, is that the young male child craves exclusive sexual possession of the mother. After the witnessing of the Primal Scene—that is, of sexual intercourse between the parents—the child develops a hostility toward the figure of the father.”
    “Dr. Freud has obviously never met my mother,” said Sir David. “One look at Evelyn and he’d chuck that theory straight away. Along with dinner, I expect. Any child in his right mind”—he smiled at Mrs. Corneille—“and I include my younger self, of course—any child would be perfectly happy to let an entire rugby team take their chances with the old cow.”
    “David,” said Mrs. Corneille, “you really are a dreadful man.” “If you think me dreadful, Vanessa, then you really must meet Evelyn.”
    Dr. Auerbach was shaking his head. “It is not at all important what the mother looks like, Sir David. It is only important that—” 
    “Excuse me.” This came from the Great Man, who was rising from his chair. His face was white. His voice was weak and his body seemed unsteady. “I feel not well. Excuse me.”
    Holding his hand against his stomach, he nodded once, to no one in particular, and then he turned and stiffly walked away.
    Mrs. Corneille looked at me. “Is it something he’s eaten?”
    Sir David raised his eyebrows blandly. “His mum, perchance?” 
    Mrs. Corneille turned to him, frowned, turned back to me. “He looked quite ill. Will he be all right, do you think?”
    “Probably,” I said. “But it’s been a long trip.”
    “You motored down from London?” asked Sir David.
    I nodded. “And took the boat from Amsterdam, day before yesterday.”
    “That explains it then,” he said. “English food on top of Dutch. A marvel he can still walk.”
    I said to Mrs. Corneille, “I’d better go check on him.”
    She raised an eyebrow, as though mildly surprised. “Yes,” she said. “Perhaps you’d better.”

    The Morning Post
    Maplewhite, Devon
    August 17 (Early Morning)
    Dear Evangeline,
    Night time, cuddled up against the bolster in my four-poster, toasty warm beneath the sheets and blankets, scribbling away, so ridiculously happy that from time to time (no one else being present) I hug myself. And from time to time I quite forget that the Allardyce is snoring away in the next room.
    Maplewhite actually is haunted, Evy; there is at least one ghost in residence. Isn’t that wonderful?
    It was at dinner that I first learned of the ghost. We were all of us sitting round the table, Lady Purleigh at one end and Lord Robert at the other. It was the Allardyce who brought up the subject, between the turbot and the brandied chicken. ‘Now,  Alice ,’ she said, and even a blind man could have perceived how very much she relished this familiarity with the lady of the manor: the pleasure in her voice was so thick it had clotted, like Devon cream. ‘You really must tell us all about this ghost of yours. Rebecca de Winter mentioned a few things, but she was very vague about the details.’
    Lady Purleigh smiled. She has a lovely smile. She is, as I said, a lovely woman. (She was wearing a dress of black silk crepe de chine, cut on the bias; there are desperate women, I expect, who would kill to obtain this dress.) ‘But I’ve never really seen it,’ she said. ‘I’ve heard it, of course.’
    ‘What does he say ?’ asked the Allardyce.
    ‘He doesn’t say anything, actually. He only moans and groans. And only sometimes, late at night.’ She seemed very nearly apologetic. That she is in any way related to the Allardyce will forever remain one of life’s great mysteries. ‘He’s not an awfully interesting ghost, I’m afraid.’
    ‘But that’s only one of them, Mother.’
    This came from the Honourable Cecily,

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