Helena took one look at the chaos and burst out laughing. So did Lady Ormsby. Their combined mirth affected even Emily, who gave up the tussle and sat on the floor, giggling. Mrs. Fanshawe’s face turned scarlet with rage. Wuffles managed to rip a large bunch of purple grapes off the crown of the hat and tossed it into the air with an exultant yap.
Mrs. Fanshawe then took matters into her own hands. She got off the sofa and, with a menacing look, retrieved a heavy poker from the fireplace.
The small dog would never survive the blow Mrs. Fanshawe planned to inflict on him. Helena rushed to grab Mrs. Fanshawe’s upraised hand before the woman could bring the poker down on the dog’s back.
Meanwhile, Lady Ormsby noted the looming danger in one glance. She clapped her hands sharply and said, “Wuffles! Heel, boy!”
Wuffles abandoned his prize, ran to his mistress, and grovelled at her feet. Mrs. Fanshawe swung around, nearly knocking Helena over, and advanced upon Lady Ormsby with a terrible expression of wrath.
Lady Ormsby, the last descendant of a long line of military leaders and a daughter of warriors of the realm, stood her ground with pride. Unafraid, she looked down her aristocratic nose, and curled her lip in contempt at Mrs. Fanshawe.
Helena froze, not sure what to do next. Then she heard the most welcome sound.
“What on earth is all that noise?”
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