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Нилс Бетти

A Secret Infatuation

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IT WASN’T difficult for Eugenie to decide what to do about Mr Rijnma ter Salis’s offer. It was a gift from heaven, a good omen, although she wasn’t sure what good it would do her, except allow her to be with him for a few weeks, when she had been steeling herself to wish him goodbye, never to set eyes on him again. Perhaps she would be able to discover something of his life, find out about his family and his home and this girl he intended to marry.

The knowledge would do her no good, of course, but it would stop her daydreaming …

The tiresome man had gone again; Sister Cross told her that over their coffee the next morning. ‘Birmingham,’ she said. ‘A stab wound—missed the aorta by a whisker—but nicked the pericardium. He went up overnight.’

Wishing to know more, Eugenie said in a diffident voice, ‘He seems to work very hard.’

‘Too hard. Time he settled down with a wife to nag him. He plans to marry in Holland, so I hear. A good thing too; half the nurses are in love with him.’

To which remark Eugenie had nothing to say. She didn’t mind the nurses; it was the girl in Holland, the one who had stolen his heart before Eugenie had met him.

She went away presently to check the theatre, and it wasn’t until much later that day that she had the leisure to think about him once more. She could see that taking the job he had offered her could lead to other things; she wasn’t a conceited girl but she couldn’t help knowing that she was strikingly beautiful, tolerably intelligent and had never lacked eager young men anxious to take her out. She felt fairly sure that given the opportunity she could stir up in Mr Rijnma ter Salis something more than the cool friendliness she had been shown by him. She was nice as well as beautiful, and if he loved this girl then she would be no more than his temporary theatre sister and show the same cool friendliness that he showed her. It would be hard, but she was quite prepared to do it. She told herself that she would make the most of the few weeks she would be with him and then get on with life without him. A bit like a heroine in a romantic novel.

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