Spoiler warnings as usual.
‘No,’ said Uncle Edward, his face a violent shade of puce. ‘Absolutely not. You cannot possibly spend Christmas with that man at the Red House without a chaperone.’
‘The servants will be there. I’d think Mrs Gates would be chaperone enough for anyone.’
Uncle Edward’s grunt showed what he thought of the servants. Hilary shook her head.
‘Well, I think you're being beastly unfair. It’s my house, and I’ve already written to Lord Peter to invite him. He’s going to think me a fearful idiot if I have to say he can’t come after all. It’s simply silly to think that Lord Peter could possibly be after my money – he’s plenty of his own, and Aunt Mildred was saying only yesterday that she’d read he was in love with Harriet Vane – the detective writer, you know – so he’s unlikely to be interested in luring me into unspeakable vice, either.’
Uncle Edward's deserves credit for restraining himself from using bad language in his reply to his niece, but very little else. And so Lord Peter never saw Will Thoday die, nor learnt who had killed Geoff Deacon.
Excerpt from a review of ‘Her Footsteps in the Evening’, by Hilary Thorpe, as reviewed by Harriet Vane for The Daily Yell.
Miss Thorpe’s theme of a young girl driven to flee from a censorious trustee into the arms of a dissipated one, is handled with a lightness of touch that brings freshness and wit to a familiar story.’
‘Well, I read The Constant Nymph over Christmas’, Hilary said, tucking into a mince pie with gusto. ‘It was banned at school, of course, but Aunt Mildred never thinks to ask me what I’m reading, and I shouldn’t have told her anyway, and I thought that if that sold so well, something that actually had a sensible ending and less feeble people ought to do even better. I hope you’re not feeling sorry for Uncle Edward. You know, he didn’t want me to go to Oxford, and it was only Lord Peter’s being there and having the Wilbraham money that made him have to give in. Besides, all his friends have gone from thinking that he failed to put his foot down firmly enough to thinking him absolutely heroic for putting up with me for as long as he did, so he hasn’t done too badly out of things.’
‘You were abominable to your aunt in it, you know.’
‘Well, yes, I was,’ admitted Hilary, ‘and I know I ought to be ashamed of it, but honestly, Harriet, you can’t imagine how it was with father and mother both dead, having to go and live with someone who made it abundantly clear with every sentence how badly she thought they had brought me up, and determined to undo everything and turn me into the daughter she never had. She actually tried to persuade me to marry Freddie Wallis from the tennis club instead of going up to Oxford. Horrid cat. I’m glad if I paid her back.’
Harriet, observing the fires of youth, withdrew from the subject of Mrs Thorpe. ‘We’ve got fifteen minutes before we need set out to meet Peter. I hope you won’t think it’s too grimly feminine, but would you like to see the baby? He should be waking up about now, and I dare say you’ll need the copy for the sequel.’
From the Minutes of the Meeting of the East Level Waterways Commission Boundaries Committee held on 14 April 1930.
Item 5 (a) (vi)
Agreed, the responsibility for the maintenance of the Van Leyden sluice to lie with the Fen Drainage Board.