Half an hour later, Susan was still waiting, sitting in the parked Lincoln on Oleander Road, and becoming a bit irritated. She glanced at her watch again, and thought, “If we don’t hurry, he’ll miss that plane. What could be keeping him?”

She waited another five minutes, and then thought, “This is ridiculous. I’d better go find him.” She removed the keys and got out of the car, carefully locking the doors behind her. She peered into the darkness down the lane, and, for a moment, thought she saw something moving. She called “Derek?” but got no answer. It must have been just the wind in the trees, the moonlight catching the leaves.

As she walked down the lane, she noticed that although the lane was rutted, the ruts were dry, and the road moderately passable. And, although the vegetation was dense, the moon was bright, and she had no trouble finding her way to the large ancient house. It was fronted by several large white columns, eerily glowing in the moonlight, and a wide wrap-around porch. She climbed the porch to the door, and, finding no doorbell, raised the large knocker and let it drop. After trying this three times with no response whatsoever from the house, she finally banged on the door with her fist. “Hello!” she cried. “Anybody there?”

She was just beginning to believe she had walked down the wrong lane, when the huge door slowly opened, accompanied by a mournful complaint from its hinges. Behind the door stood a slight, but stocky young black man, about her age, in a black tee-shirt and blue jeans. She noted right away that he was well-built (“I’m engaged but not dead yet” she thought to herself), and that he was perspiring a little.

He looked her over briefly and, in a completely incongruous upper-class British voice, intoned “Her ladyship is not receiving callers this evening.” With that, he began to push the door closed.

Susan stared at him, then asked, “Antoine?”

The man froze and looked at her a bit harder, then said, “Susan? Is it little Susan? Come in child, come right in. Forgive me for not knowing you right away, but I'm a little preoccupied… Mina! Mina, guess who’s here!”

He threw his arm over Susan’s shoulders and brought her into an immense, lamp-lit hallway, complete with a suit of armor and a formal staircase. “Oh, forgive my appearance, I’m in the middle of a project for your aunt.”

“That’s quite all right. How is she?”

“Oh, in the peak of health. Simply the peak. She’s in the library, go on in right through there, and I’ll bring you a glass for some sherry.”

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Created by KKris. Last Modification: Saturday 20 of August, 2005 15:13:43 EDT by KKris.