Henrietta Paisley fell backwards onto the sofa, fanning her flushed face with both hands. She panted, each breath forced as she gasped from the unfamiliar exertion of running. Patience was taken aback at this unusual sight. In general, Henrietta never ran anywhere. She proceeded through life at a sedate, orderly pace as befitted her status in life: a respectable widow of middling years with excellent social connections and superlative matchmaking skills. Right now, Henrietta resembled a woman who had run for her life from some disaster or perhaps even an escaped wild animal from a travelling circus. A torrent of words came out in between desperate gulps for air as she yanked at her bonnet ribbons and let the elaborate confection fall to the carpet next to her.
“Oh, my dear Patience. What can I say? A disaster. A tragedy, after all my dreams and expectations for you were realised only last week, or maybe it was longer, but anyway, it was a remarkably short time ago. In all my life, I’ve never heard of such a strange thing. It’s quite unbelievable.” She patted her greying curls back into place. “An act of God, one might say, although I’m not sure how much He has to do with modern life nowadays, and what with all the wickedness in the world I can’t see how people can expect divine intervention anyway.”
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