Felicia expressed interest in the most expensive silk, Miss Sophy was quick to allay her fears about cost.
“Within the budget that be,” she soothed. “And just the right color for you. I can see you now, taking a stroll in that. What a picture you will present.”
“Do you think it will be all right?” Felicia asked of Lady Louisa. “I cannot imagine that Mrs. Barton will think such finery is appropriate for a governess.”
“But there will be times when you will need a pretty dress,” Lady Louisa interposed quickly, hoping that Miss Sophy would forget what she had just heard. She was not anxious to have the word around that Felicia was a servant, and a temporary one at that. No, she cherished the hope that somehow she could persuade Felicia to stay with her permanently.
Miss Sophy smiled to herself. It was always a pleasure doing business with Lord Umber. He was always such a gentleman when it came to paying the bills and never questioned them at all. If this Miss Felicia wanted to pretend she was a governess, that was her business. Miss Sophy was far too discreet to make any comment.
After a day spent choosing patterns and fabrics, Miss Sophy left for London, promising to return within the week with the new wardrobe. Between them, Lady Louisa and Miss Sophy had persuaded Felicia to take five gowns and, unknown to Felicia, Lady Louisa had asked Miss Sophy to make up two evening gowns as well.
Meanwhile, Felicia participated in daily sessions with Dr. Ross. They were not totally unproductive, for while she was in the trance she was able to answer some of the questions about her childhood. However, if Dr. Ross asked her anything about her immediate past, she remembered nothing.
When she was out of the trance, they discussed what had been learned. After four days they had managed to build a composite picture of her early childhood, which Dr. Ross concluded had been quite normal and happy.
“It really is an interesting case,” he said to Lady Louisa over tea one afternoon. “Felicia is well-bred, well-educated, and well-adjusted. Yet I begin to see that something terrible happened to her in the recent past that is the real cause of her amnesia. The blow to her head was not the true cause of her loss of memory.”
“Whatever could have happened, do you suppose?” Lady Louisa asked, a worried frown creasing her brow.
“Any number of things. At this stage, all I know is that the true cause is painful. So painful her unconscious mind is refusing to recall it. You haven’t heard from your friend in Manchester, I suppose?”
“No, and neither has Felicia heard from her Mrs. Barton. And I am hoping that she never does, for I swear that I have become so fond of her, I cannot bear to think of her ever going away.”
“A pity really, for I was hoping Mrs. Barton would provide a key to open more memories,” he leaned forward conspiratorily. “’Tis possible we can between us persuade her to stay, for I am certain that the longer she is here, the less she likes the idea of going to Manchester.”
“I am just afraid that it is a little dull for her at Alverston. Mayhap I should ask Ian to come down soon with a house party. If Felicia could mingle with people her own age, do you think that will help?”
Dr. Ross hesitated for a moment. He was pleased that Lady Louisa was showing interest in someone other than herself. It marked a big change in her normally reclusive attitude. But his real concern was for Felicia and how she would react in Lord Umber’s presence. Nonetheless, he liked the suggestion. “Medically speaking,” he finally replied, “I think it would do you both some good.”
When Felicia was informed of the forthcoming visit, she said nothing, keeping her fears to herself. Dr. Ross sensed her uneasiness but decided not to interfere.
However, her fears diminished as she was caught up in the whirl of activity that ensued. Extra servants were hired from the village, and they descended