A Lady in the Smoke 2 (Chapters 11-15)

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Elizabeth goes back with her mother, feeling very miserable.

That night she has terrible nightmares about her horse being burnt to death. So the following morning she decides to ride her beautiful mare. She usually does this in secret as her mother doesn’t approve of her riding since her father died after a nasty fall from a horse. After she rides for an hour or so, she feels better, but she has to return home as it starts to rain. Then a maid comes rushing to find her and tells her that her mother has been crying and calling for her. When she gets changed and enters the bedroom, her mother is now calmer, but she is told that she has been talking gibberish and calling Elizabeth’s name twice. When she approaches her mother, Lady Fraser keeps talking about a man, saying that she is sorry for having sent for him. Nobody knows what the woman is saying, but then she falls asleep.

Her cousin later tells her that they have decided to call the doctor that treated Lady Fraser after the accident, that is, Paul Wilcox. Elizabeth can’t help but feel upset, thinking about meeting Paul again. The only person she tells about Paul and her feelings is her friend Anne, who comes to see her. Anne explains that she came back earlier from Scotland when she heard she had been in that terrible train accident. Ann also tells her that things at home are not better. Felix, her brother’s best friend, the one who he tried to get out of the opium den, was also on the train and died. Philip, Anne’s brother, is very upset, and it doesn’t help to hear their father say that this was a divine punishment and this is what happened to Felix. Elizabeth tells her that maybe Philip should go away and have a change of scene for a while. Apart from that, Elizabeth learns that the person who sold some land recently in the area is another neighbour, Mr Pinsley, and the man he had dealings with is Mr Hayes. Anne promises she is going to find out more about it.

When Paul Wilcox turns up, Elizabeth is really nervous. He examines Lady Fraser, and the conclusion that he reaches is that Elizabeth’s mother is suffering the effects from a trauma, and with all probability her mind has put together her husband’s sudden death and the train accident, and that is why she is not herself. When Elizabeth is finally alone with Paul, she is disappointed as the man doesn’t mention anything personal, but he tells her that after the hearing the government is considering closing the railway company whose father sold the shares from, which will mean a blow to her fortune. When he leaves, Elizabeth is hurt that the intimacy they enjoyed when he didn’t know who she was is gone, and now she feels very sad. Poor Elizabeth. We could say she has a very privileged life, but it is sad that she is not free to choose.

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