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Authors: Joan Aiken

Midnight is a Place (34 page)

BOOK: Midnight is a Place
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"Ah, he was a wayward, reckless boy—but everybody loved him. He had a way of looking at you and smiling—Quincy was rather a hard parent, y'know, Eulalia. If he had been more understanding, now—"

Lucas thought sadly about the life and death of Denzil Murgatroyd. What a waste of that gifted, lively, inventive boy, he thought. If he had meekly done what his father wanted, and devoted himself to the Mill, would things have turned out better? What good did it do, that everybody loved him? If he and Sir Randolph had not quarreled, would Sir Randolph have been a better person, not left such a trail of destruction behind him? Does Anna-Marie take after her father? No, Lucas thought, she is herself, no person is a continuation of anybody else. And then he thought, perhaps I could write about Denzil Murgatroyd. Perhaps I could write his story.

Once upon a time,
he thought,
there wad a hoy
... and then stopped short in astonishment as the two images overflowed across one another, the image of Greg and the image of Denzil. They were the same person, and I never guessed it till now.

"So what will you do with your park, Eulalia?" said Lord Holdernesse.

The sun was low on the horizon, the shadows were long, it was becoming chilly.

"Well," said Lady Murgatroyd, "what shall we do with it, my dears? Build another great house?"

"No, no, let us not," said Anna-Marie. "Besides, we have no money. I have thought what I shall do: I shall collect snails. I have seen a sign saying that doctors at the infirmary will buy snails—with shells—for fourpence a quart; people want them for cage birds, also. And I do not believe the Friendly Boys will be able to say they have the rights to the snails in Blastburn. Also the doctors want frogs, one penny each, and worms are required by the men who sell turf. I shall get the other fluff-pickers to help me too; I think they did not look happy and will be glad of a change. And Luc can help me and we shall do quite well."

But Lucas thanked her and he thought he would have enough to do.

"And we'll write, read, sing—run a music school—"

"
Avec le diapason de Handel, alors!
"

"Just live here," said Lucas.

"Do come and call on us, Gus, whenever you like," said Lady Murgatroyd, as he raised his hat to them and took his departure.

They went into the icehouse where the fire smoldered gently and there was a warm smell of woodsmoke. Redgauntlet thumped his tail.

"I think perhaps this evening it would be a nice thing if you were to play your violin a little, Monsieur Ookapool,
n'est-ce pas?
" said Anna-Marie.

BOOK: Midnight is a Place
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