What an eventful day! Little wonder Matty is weary. After the evening meal, she leaves her guests to entertain themselves in the drawing room and prepares for bed. She could sleep standing up.
And yet. She lies on her back. She lies on her side. She screws up her eyes. She opens them wide. Her thoughts are racing, jumping, spinning, as if her skull is hosting the Berlin Olympics. But these games are less orderly than Hitler’s. As soon as she packs a thought away, another springs up jack-in-the-box style.
She is still awake when the guests retire. Now she must contend not only with her own disarray but the snuffling and snoring that manifests theirs. Has she the strength to smother them one by one with a pillow? Simpler to step outside.
Never one to dwell on misfortune, Matty feels instantly cheered. Although her carcass aches from her fall, she casts off the covers and slides out of bed. She dons her dressing gown and shoves her feet into her tartan slippers.
Slinking down the corridor, she recalls playing hide and seek with the boy, inventing variations to occupy him when his father was peevish. Now, letting the outside door close quietly behind her, she feels electrified at the thought of outwitting the prince.
Out in the cobbled courtyard, she cinches her gown at the waist and tugs the lapels to her throat. The night might be cold, but the navy-blue sky is shot through with diamonds. The firmament soothes her, as it soothed the boy when demons stirred his sleep.
When she has had her fill of stars, Matty turns back, confident she will swiftly nod off. But when she tries the handle, the door to Tuke House is locked.
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