The Chain of Destiny

Free The Chain of Destiny by Betty Neels

Book: The Chain of Destiny by Betty Neels Read Free Book Online
Authors: Betty Neels
these houses, got out, opened the door and reached for Horace, and by the time he had done this the front door had been opened by a cosy-looking woman of middle age, dressed very neatly in black. She smiled at Suzannah as she mounted the few steps to the door.
    â€˜Good morning, miss. I’m Mrs Cobb, housekeeper to the professor. I’m to see that you have a cup of coffee before you leave, and I’ll show you where your cat will live. Glad to have him, too; the professor’s got a dog, but my old cat, Flossie, died a while ago and I do miss her.’
    She had led the way into the house as she spoke, into a small hall, very elegant with its striped walls and polished floor. ‘If you wouldn’t mind coming to the kitchen, miss…’
    There was a baize door beside the curving staircase at the back of the hall; they went through it, down some steps and through another door into the kitchen. The house, Suzannah realised, was a good deal larger than it appeared from the street, for the kitchen was large with a glimpse of smaller rooms leading from it and, through the window at the end, quite a long garden.
    â€˜He’ll live here with me,’ explained Mrs Cobb, ‘but of course he’ll have the run of the house, and through this door…’ she opened another door and went down a short passage which in turn opened into a garden-room, ‘there’s all this for him to roam in. And be sure I’ll take the greatest deal of care of him, miss. If you let him out so that he can look around…?’
    The sun warmed the garden-room, and it was comfortably furnished with lounge chairs and little tables. ‘You just have your coffee here,’ advised Mrs Cobb, ‘and let the little man roam.’
    She bustled off and Horace, freed from his basket, sauntered around, sniffing at the greenery and finally settling in one of the chairs. Mrs Cobb, coming back with the coffee-tray, looked pleased. ‘There! I knew he’d settle. Handsome, isn’t he?’
    Suzannah sat and drank her coffee and then, warned by Mrs Cobb that Cobb would be driving her to her employer in ten minutes’ time, went away to tidy herself in the luxurious little cloakroom tucked away behind the staircase. From the glimpse she had of the house, the professor lived in the greatest comfort—more luxury. She would have liked to have seen more of the house. There were several doors leading from the hall, but they were all shut, and she resisted the temptation to open them and went back to the garden-room to say goodbye to Horace, who, curled up half asleep, did no more than open an eye.
    â€˜I’ll be back,’ she assured him, and followed Mr Cobb back into the hall once more and then out to the car. She felt terrible: like someone who had jumped into the deep end of a swimming pool and remembered at the last moment that she couldn’t swim.

CHAPTER FOUR
    T HEY HADN’T FAR to go, but during the short drive Cobb, seeing her downcast face, talked cheerfully. ‘The missus will love Horace,’ he told her. ‘Dotes on cats, she does. I dare say she’ll drop you a line to let you know how he is.’
    Suzannah said gratefully, ‘Oh, do you suppose she would? I’d be very grateful; you see, I’m not quite sure how long I’ll be away.’ She added doubtfully, ‘I hope I’ll do.’
    â€˜Don’t you fret, miss. The professor doesn’t make mistakes; if he thought you were right for the job, then you’ll be OK.’
    He turned the car into a Belgravia square. ‘Here we are.’ He drew in his breath with a satisfied hiss. ‘Just on time, too.’
    The Bentley was gliding to a halt before one of the massive houses in the square, and Cobb drew up just behind it, got out, opened Suzannah’s door and with a cheerful, ‘Goodbye, miss,’ left her with the professor, who had got out of his car too.
    His, ‘Good

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