That was this June past. My Lady kept smiling at Miss Rainey through all that transpired during the next few, short weeks. But I knew the doctor's verdict before it came: our year abroad had not effected a cure. Our year abroad had not changed anything. The illness has Lady Duff Gordon in its grip; it is shrinking her, it is draining her, and it is robbing us all of her in the process.
I am desperate for a solution. Everyone is desperate for a solution because, in our hearts, we know there is no cure. They are all saying it, saying it more loudly this time: Lady Duff Gordon will not survive another winter in England. Mr. Meredith and Doctor Izod have both told her, and Doctor Quail traveled down from London to instruct my Lady himself: if she is to live, she must leave. She must leave her beloved home yet again, her expansive household with its warm and embracing fug of books, pamphlets, papers, and endless loud and good-humored debate; she must leave her steadfast husband, and her precious children, and travel to a place where it actually is warm and light and dry in the dread, dark months of November, December, January, February, March; even April can be bitterly cold and wet in England. I would never have thought that one could die from the weather, no matter how miserable and gray it might be, but another winter will murder my Lady.
And so she must go. Her course is set. And I am to accompany her on her travels once again. My Lady and I are going to Egypt. I'll whisper it again, that wonderful word: Egypt.
Excerpted from The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger. Copyright © 2011 by Kate Pullinger. Excerpted by permission of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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