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Vanquished

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“Adam!” said Louise, extending a hand to help him up. “My dear. Are you unwell?”

Adam blinked, finding himself slumped against the wall of the cellar and unsure of how he had got there. Then he shook himself and immediately bounced back to his feet, refusing Louise’s offer of aid. He seemed, as far as he could remember, to have fainted, but that was ridiculous. He never fainted! There was also something else terribly wrong… “Whatever has happened to Mrs Harker?” he asked urgently. “My dear Louise, you will not understand, I know, but she may be in the most terrible danger. Did you see her?”

“Mrs Harker made her apologies, but she had to leave,” said Louise, at the same moment, absently brushing what seemed to be a considerable amount of dust from her elegant silk skirt. “I believe her problem is now entirely solved and she has no further need of your services.”

Adam frowned. “That cannot be so. She was most distressed –” He frowned. It was most unaccountable, but his memory seemed suddenly unreliable on the subject of what, precisely, Mrs Harker had said.

Louise kicked a stake-like piece of broken chair away from her. “I assure you, my dear, it is so.”

“Very well,” said Adam, not entirely convinced, but there was no further point in standing around in Colonel Jackson’s cellar. It was no place for a delicate lady like his Louise, that much he did know. “Thank you, my dear. Come – we shall leave at once.”