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John found her in the small attic where she kept her equipment, the painting propped in front of her.

“I thought that had gone?”

“They’ll not be taking this week.”

But not, he noted, they can’t; she was honest even in her perks. He stepped behind her for a squarer view, but it didn’t recommend itself to him any more than at first glance.

“What’s it say to you?”

Her interest was usually in technique, not substance. He was a little surprised when she said “Death’s-head symbology? You know this stuff better than me. Repentance, loyalty, concepts of honour.” After a pause she added, as if changing the subject “I’ll take whatever work Francis has for me, if McAllister agrees it.”

He left her contemplating shadows, and he left her sadly. He had wondered why his father had sent her after that piece. He thought now that perhaps he knew.

Twice in a week? And a return from Kathryn Blake, as well? Take it as a good omen …


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