worked here, Maggie thought. But then I really donât know much at all about any of these people, do I?
Their eyes met, and Maggie could not help feeling uncomfortable. She had not missed the bitter disappointment on Malcolm Nortonâs face when Mrs. Woods revealed that Nuala had canceled the sale of her house. But he had been cordial at the wake and funeral yesterday and had suggested that he would like to have a chat with her about her plans for the house.
She paused just long enough to greet Mrs. Norton, then followed the maid down the corridor to the corner office.
The maid knocked, waited, and at the invitation to enter, opened the door for Maggie and stepped back, closing it once Maggie was inside.
Dr. Lane stood up and came around his desk to greet her. His smile was cordial, but it seemed to Maggie that his eyes were appraising her professionally. His greeting confirmed that impression.
âMs. Holloway, or Maggie, if I may, Iâm glad to see that you look a bit more rested. Yesterday was a very difficult day for you, I know.â
âIâm sure it was difficult for everyone who loved Nuala,â Maggie said quietly. âBut Iâm really concerned about Mrs. Shipley. How is she this morning?â
âShe had another weak spell last evening, but I looked in on her just a while ago, and she seems quite fit. Sheâs looking forward to your visit.â
âWhen I spoke to her this morning, she particularly asked if I would drive her out to the cemetery. Do you think thatâs a good idea?â
Lane indicated the leather chair in front of his desk. âSit down, please.â He returned to his own chair. âI wish sheâd wait a few days, but when Mrs. Shipley makes up her mindto do somethingÂ .Â .Â . well, nothing changes it. I do think that both of her little spells yesterday were caused by her deep emotion over Nualaâs death. The two of them were really very close. Theyâd gotten into the habit of going up to Mrs. Shipleyâs studio after Nualaâs art class, and they would gossip and have a glass or two of wine. I told them they were like a pair of schoolgirls. Frankly, though, it probably was good for both of them, and I know Mrs. Shipley will miss those visits.â
He smiled, reminiscing. âNuala once told me that if she were hit over the head and then asked her age when she came to, sheâd say twenty-two and mean it. Inside, she said, she really was twenty-two.â
Then as he realized what he had said, he looked shocked. âIâm so sorry. How careless of me.â
Hit over the head, Maggie thought. But feeling sorry for the manâs acute embarrassment, she said, âPlease donât apologize. Youâre right. In spirit Nuala never was older than twenty-two.â She hesitated, then decided to plunge in. âDoctor, thereâs one thing I must ask you. Did Nuala ever confide to you that something was troubling her? I mean, did she have a physical problem she may have mentioned?â
He shook his head. âNo, not physical. I think Nuala was having a great deal of difficulty with what she perceived to be giving up her independence. I really think that if she had lived she eventually would have made up her mind to come here. She was always concerned about the relatively high cost of the large apartment with the extra bedroom, but as she said, she had to have a studio where she could both work and close the door when she was finished.â He paused. âNuala told me that she knew she was a bit untidy by nature but that her studio was always the scene of organized chaos.â
âThen you believe that canceling the sale of her houseand the hasty will she left were simply a last-minute panic attack of sorts?â
âYes, I do.â He stood up. âIâll ask Angela to bring you up to Mrs. Shipley. And if you do go to the cemetery, observe her carefully, please. If she seems in any way