Wedding Bells for Beatrice - Бетти Нилс - Wedding Bells for Beatrice Betty Neels Читать онлайн любовный роман

В женской библиотеке Мир Женщины кроме возможности читать онлайн также можно скачать любовный роман - Wedding Bells for Beatrice - Бетти Нилс бесплатно.

Правообладателям | Топ-100 любовных романов

Wedding Bells for Beatrice - Бетти Нилс - Читать любовный роман онлайн в женской библиотеке LadyLib.Net
Wedding Bells for Beatrice - Бетти Нилс - Скачать любовный роман в женской библиотеке LadyLib.Net

Нилс Бетти

Wedding Bells for Beatrice

Читать онлайн

Аннотация к роману
«Wedding Bells for Beatrice» - Бетти Нилс

You should marry again Beatrice sympathized with Gijs van der Eekerk. A widower with a small child and a busy medical career needed someone to make sure his domestic life ran smoothly.What she hadn't counted on was his decision to offer her the position. As his wife, she would have a comfortable lifestyle and everything that money could buy. But what was that, if Gijs couldn't offer her love?
Следующая страница

Wedding Bells for Beatrice Betty Neels

Dear Reader,

Looking back over the years, I find it hard to realise that twenty-six of them have gone by since I wrote my first book—Sister Peters in Amsterdam. It wasn’t until I started writing about her that I found that once I had started writing, nothing was going to make me stop—and at that time I had no intention of sending it to a publisher. It was my daughter who urged me to try my luck.

I shall never forget the thrill of having my first book accepted. A thrill I still get each time a new story is accepted. Writing to me is such a pleasure, and seeing a story unfolding on my old typewriter is like watching a film and wondering how it will end. Happily of course.

To have so many of my books re-published is such a delightful thing to happen and I can only hope that those who read them will share my pleasure in seeing them on the bookshelves again…and enjoy reading them.

Wedding Bells for Beatrice

Betty Neels

Table of Contents

Title Page









LADY DOWLEY’S Christmas party was in full swing, an event which achieved the very pinnacle of social life in the village of Little Estling, remotely situated as it was some nine miles from Aylesbury and well away from the main road. Remote though it was, it had more than its fair share of landed gentry and the retired professional classes scattered in and around the small place, carrying on tradition: cricket in summer, garden parties, church bazaars, carol-singing at Christmas …

The large ornate drawing-room in Lady Dowley’s Victorian mansion was full of people, not because she was especially liked in the neighbourhood but because she offered refreshments of a kind most of them were quite unable to afford: smoked salmon, Parma ham, delicious bits and pieces poised on minuscule scraps of toast. The wines were good too; her late husband had assembled a nice cellar before he died. She was an overbearing woman, still handsome in a middle-aged way and prone to interfere in other people’s affairs and with a deep-rooted conviction that she was always right. It would have upset her very much to know that her friends and acquaintances pitied her and, despite not liking her over-much, would be prepared to go to her aid if it should ever be required.

Happily unaware of this, she surged to and fro, being gracious to those she considered a little beneath her socially and effusive to those she saw as her equals, and presently she fetched up before a middle-aged, thick-set man with a calm wise face and shrewd eyes.

‘Dr Crawley, how delightful to see you.’ She glanced around her. ‘And your dear wife?’ She didn’t give him time to answer. ‘And your lovely daughter?’

Dr Crawley said comfortably, ‘They are here, Lady Dowley, no doubt having a good gossip with someone or other. You’re keeping well? And Phoebe?’

‘I told her that she simply had to come—I go to all the trouble of asking any number of interesting people.’ She looked over his shoulder. ‘You must excuse me; there is a very old firm friend—do remember me to your wife if I shouldn’t see her … Perhaps she will come to tea soon.’

Dr Crawley made a non-committal noise. His wife, a sweet-tempered woman with a retiring disposition, was none the less the granddaughter of an earl, therefore to be cultivated by his hostess. Dr Crawley, whose family had lived on the outskirts of the village for generations, and who knew every single inhabitant, gave a derisive snort and then turned to see who was tapping him on the shoulder.

His daughter Beatrice was a head taller than he, a splendidly shaped girl standing five feet ten inches tall in her bare feet and as pretty as a picture. She had light brown hair, long and straight and coiled in the nape of her neck, large grey eyes with sweeping lashes the same colour as her hair, a delicate nose and a wide, sweetly curved mouth above a determined chin. She was smiling.

‘Father, cheer up—we’ll be able to leave in another half-hour or so. I’ve left Mother with Mrs Hodge discussing knitting patterns.’ She stopped abruptly as a pair of hands covered her eyes from behind. ‘Derek, it is you, isn’t it? Has the path.

lab thrown you out at last?’

She put up a hand to her forehead. ‘Don’t you dare to make my hair untidy, it took me hours …!’

The hands dropped and she was turned round, smiling, offering a cheek for his casual kiss, aware that there was someone with him. A man of vast proportions with grey hair cut very short and heavy-lidded blue eyes. It was an unpleasant shock to see that he was looking at her with a detached coolness so that her smile faded. He doesn’t like me, she thought uncertainly, but we don’t even know each other …

‘Beatrice, this is Gijs van der Eekerk—Gijs, this is Beatrice Crawley; we’ve known each other since we were trundled out in our prams. Years ago.’

She shot him a look—any minute now he would tell this man how old she was. She held out a hand and said, ‘How do you do?’ and had it engulfed in a firm grip. ‘Are you visiting Derek?’ she asked, wanting to hear his voice.

‘For a day or so.’ He stood, looking down at her, making no effort to hold the kind of social conversation she expected.

‘You’re Dutch?’ she asked for the sake of something to say. ‘You know England well?’

‘I come over fairly frequently—this is a very pretty part of the country.’

She agreed and wished heartily that Derek and her father would stop whatever they were saying to each other and help out with the talk.

‘What a pity it is that convention prevents us from saying what we wish to say and forces us to make small talk about the weather.’

He had a deep voice and his English was faultless with only a slight accent. She stared at him, at a loss for words for a moment. Then she said, ‘That wouldn’t do at all.’ She spoke sharply. ‘But I think you would like to.’

He smiled then, a small smile which made her feel foolish although she had no idea why. ‘Indeed I would, and I must warn you that at times I do.’ He paused. ‘Speak my mind.’

‘Then I am sorry for whoever has to listen to you,’ she said with a snap. ‘You’ll excuse me? I see someone I want to talk to.’

She left him and he watched her go before joining her father and his friend.

She knew everyone there, going from group to group, exchanging gossip, and all the while knowing that she would have to find the wretched man and apologise for her rudeness. All the same, she reminded herself, she had meant it.

Her mother and father were on the point of leaving when she saw him again, talking to the Reverend Mr Perkins. She made her way slowly towards them, intent on getting the business over since they weren’t likely to meet again.

The rector saw her first. ‘Beatrice—I’ve been wanting a word with you—come over to the rectory in the morning, will you …?’ He looked apologetically at the man beside him. ‘Christmas, you know—such a busy time.’ He held out a hand. ‘A pleasure meeting you, and I hope it may be repeated.’ He beamed at Beatrice. ‘I leave you in good hands; Beatrice is a sweet girl.’ He trotted off, unaware of the effect of his words.

Her companion lifted his eyebrows. ‘I’m delighted to hear that,’ he said pleasantly, ‘and, I must admit, surprised.’

Beatrice’s magnificent bosom swelled with sudden temper. ‘I might have known,’ she said bitterly. ‘I came to apologise for being rude, but I’m not going to now.’

He said to infuriate her still more, ‘No, no, why should you? You have a very good expression in English—to vent one’s spleen—so very apt, I have always thought. Besides, bad temper suits you. Pray don’t give a thought to apologising.’

‘Well, I won’t. It is a very good thing that we are never likely to see each other again, for we don’t get on.’

‘Apparently not.

’ He sounded uninterested, waiting for her to end the conversation.

‘Goodbye,’ said Beatrice. If she had known how to flounce she would have done so, but she didn’t, so she walked away with her chin up and a very straight back. She looked just as delightful from the back, the man reflected, watching her go.

Beatrice, sitting beside her father as he drove home through the scattering of houses and up the hill on the other side to where they lived, replied rather absentmindedly to her mother’s comments about the party, while she reflected, very much to her surprise, that she wished that she could meet Gijs van der Eekerk again. Not because she liked him, she hastened to assure herself, but to find out more about him.

Her mother’s voice interrupted her thoughts. ‘Will you see Tom tomorrow?’

Tom?’ Beatrice sounded vague, ‘Oh, I don’t know …’

Mrs Crawley’s maternal instincts were at once on the alert. ‘What a charming man that was who came with Derek—I wonder where he comes from and what he does …?’

Beatrice muttered, ‘I’ve no idea,’ and her father made no effort to enlighten them; instead he made some placid remark about the evening.

Christmas was only two days away. George, the Crawleys’ son, a medical student nine years younger than his sister, would be coming home for two days’ leave and two elderly aunts would be arriving in the morning to spend Christmas—there was more than enough to keep Beatrice busy what with helping her mother prepare for Christmas and helping with the flowers at the church. Making mince pies and arranging holly wreaths made a welcome change from her job at St Justin’s Hospital in the heart of the East End of London. She liked her work—being responsible for the smooth running and maintainance of the extensive laboratory attached to the hospital. She had gone there straight from her domestic science course and gradually worked her way up to her present job—as high as she could go. Sometimes the thought that she would be there for ever crept into her mind—twenty-eight was no longer the first flush of youth and despite several offers of marriage she had felt no urge to accept any of them. There was always Tom, of course, who tended to behave as though he had only to beckon and she would come. He was ambitious, working his way ruthlessly to a consultant’s status, and she sometimes suspected that the love he professed for her was a good deal less than his anticipation of a path smoothed for him by a father-in-law who knew all the right people. He was a pleasant companion and she saw a good deal of him—had even invited him home for a weekend. Her mother and father had been hospitable and friendly but she was aware that they hadn’t liked him.

George arrived soon after breakfast on Christmas Eve, laden with a bag of washing, a crate of beer and a great many parcels. ‘Presents,’ he explained cheerfully, ‘but I’ve not had time to wrap them up—I know you’ll do it for me, Beatrice.’

‘I’ll be sorry for your wife when you get one,’ said Beatrice good-naturedly and filled the washing-machine before going in search of paper and labels. He sat at the kitchen table drinking mugs of coffee and telling her what to write on the labels in between answering his mother’s questions about his work. He was just starting his second year and had passed his first exams; he loved it, he assured her, and Beatrice, who had a very good idea of a medical student’s life, smiled at him. They got on well together despite the difference in their ages and, perhaps because of this, he had always confided in her.

She finished the presents, cut him a hunk of the big fruitcake on the dresser and went to answer the doorbell.

It was the aunts, elderly and rather old-fashioned, having been driven from Aylesbury in a hired car. They were sitting in the back, very erect, their faces composed under formidable felt hats. Beatrice greeted them and the chauffeur, asked him to bring in the luggage and went to help her aunts out of the car. They were both quite capable of helping themselves but it never entered their heads to do so. They never spoke of the lordly head of the family but they didn’t forget him either. Certain standards had to be maintained; they reminded each other of this from time to time and they had no intention of altering a way of life which had been normal in their youth, but despite their stiff manners they were dear old things—Beatrice loved them.

She eased them out carefully, kissed the proffered cheeks and led the way indoors.

Later that morning, the old ladies settled in and the chores done, Beatrice got into the elderly cloak hanging behind the kitchen door and worn by everyone in the family and took herself off to the church to find Mr Perkins. He was putting a plug on the fairy-lights on the Christmas tree and making a bad job of it. Beatrice took it from him, rearranged the wires, screwed them down and handed it back to him. He was a nice old man, everyone in the village liked him, but he needed a great deal of looking after since his wife had died.

He thanked her warmly. ‘I asked you to come and see me but I’m afraid I can’t remember why.’ And before she could suggest anything, he said, ‘What a very nice man that was with young Derek—I wish I had had more time to talk to him. I trust we shall see him again …’

‘Well, I shouldn’t think so,’ said Beatrice. ‘He’s Dutch, you know, and only here on a visit.’

‘A pity. Ah, I’ve remembered what I wished to ask you, my dear. If you could give a hand with the children during the blessing of the crib?’

‘Yes, of course. Six o’clock this evening, isn’t it?’

‘So kind. When do you go back to your work, Beatrice?’

‘Boxing Day, in the evening. It’s lovely to be home for Christmas. I must fly—the aunts and George are staying with us, and Mother needs a hand in the kitchen.’

‘Yes, yes, of course.’ He smiled gently. ‘Run along … It seems only the other day that you were a little girl. How old are you now, Beatrice?’


‘You should be married with children.’

‘As soon as I can find a husband I’ll do just that, and you shall marry us.’ She laughed as she spoke, but really, she reflected as she sped home, it was no laughing matter. She hadn’t lacked for prospective husbands but somehow none of them had touched her heart. ‘I dare say I shall make a splendid aunt,’ she said to Horace, the elderly cat who had invited himself to live with them some years ago and had been there ever since.

Horace jumped down off the wall and followed her into the house. He had long ago realised that when she was at home he could be sure of getting his meals on time. Her romantic future was of no concern to him.

She hadn’t been home for Christmas for three years and she enjoyed every moment of it, especially the blessing of the crib with the children milling around, some of them dressed in curtains and their mothers’ dressing-gowns and gold paper crowns, enacting their own little play round the crib. Beatrice, nipping smartly to and fro, shushing the noisiest of them and rearranging the curtains which had come adrift, thoroughly enjoyed herself. She went home to supper when it was all over and listened to her aunts’ gentle reminiscences of their youth and presently slipped out of the room to join George and listen to his account of his life at the hospital. She gathered that it wasn’t bad—he was clever and when he chose worked hard and didn’t mind the long hours of study. He had friends too, and his social life, as far as she could gather, was a lively one.

‘What about you?’ he wanted to know. ‘Isn’t it about time you got married?’ He added, ‘What about Tom?’

She took this in good part. ‘It’s a funny thing, George, I’ve done my best to fall in love with him, but it’s no good. You see, I don’t think it’s me he wants, it’s a quick way to the top, and Daddy could help him …’

‘Toss him out, my dear. Isn’t there anyone else?’ She said no in a doubtful voice while Gijs van der Eekerk’s handsome features floated around in her head. She shook it vigorously and said ‘no’ again quite violently. Why should she think of him when she so disliked him?

George gave her a curious look and said nothing. So there was someone, even if she didn’t know it herself. The thought pleased him; he had never liked Tom, who patronised him.

Christmas Day, its traditions never varying from year to year, came and went with its presents, church in the morning, turkey and Christmas pudding, crackers and cake, and then Boxing Day, pleasantly easygoing after the hustle and bustle, followed it all too swiftly. Beatrice loaded her bag into her own Mini, added a box of food which her mother considered necessary to augment what she considered to be the hospital stodge, hugged everyone and promised to be home again as soon as she could get a couple of days off, and drove away, down the lane past Lady Dowley’s imposing house and through the village. A pity Derek had a week’s leave, she reflected; she saw very little of him at the hospital but from time to time they saw each other going their various ways and very occasionally they had gone out to supper when they were both free.

She took a side-road to Aylesbury and presently joined the A41 which took her to the outskirts of London. She was a good driver and there was very little traffic. She went across the city, a lengthy business, weaving in and out of streets becoming more and more shabby as she went east. Presently she could see the bulk of St Justin’s ahead of her, towering over the rows of grimy little houses and shops, and turned in through its open gateway to park her car at the back of the hospital and go in through a side-door. It opened on to a passage going left and right and she took the one going away from the hospital to the newer block which housed the path. lab and the various departments appertaining to it. Her flatlet was on the top floor, a large room, nicely furnished, with its own little shower-room and tiny kitchenette. The view from its windows was depressing enough—chimney-pots and boarded-up shops and warehouses—but she kept an array of pot plants on the sills which screened the worst of them and had added over the years bright cushions, and pretty lamps so that the place was welcoming. She was a lucky young woman, she told herself as she unpacked her bag. She had a good job, reasonably well paid, and she liked her work. On the ground floor she had her office where she dealt with the cleaners, the part-time cook who came in from time to time to provide the laboratory staff with meals if they weren’t able to go to the hospital canteen, and, as well as this, she paid the bills, and worked her way through a great deal of paperwork which the hospital administration demanded of her. She kept a motherly eye on everyone too, reporting sickness or injuries, and she dealt with the mundane running of the place—the plumber, painters, maintenance men—and, over and above that, dealt with the foibles of the varied learned gentlemen who worked there with their assistants. She was known rather grandly as the administrator but she thought of herself as the housekeeper.

She was opening a can of soup when the telephone rang. ‘You’re back,’ said Tom. ‘I thought of you living in the lap of luxury while the rest of us worked ourselves into the ground. I suppose you went to several marvellous parties …’

‘One,’ said Beatrice and wondered why she felt no sympathy for him.

‘Lucky girl. How about telling me all about it tomorrow evening? I shall be free for a few hours—we might go and have a meal somewhere. Seven o’clock suit you?’

She frowned, faintly annoyed that he was so sure of her accepting. ‘I shall be busy tomorrow—everyone will be working late; there’s the seminar on the following day …’

For heaven’s sake!’ He sounded as peevish as a spoilt child. ‘Why must you fuss over those old back-room boys?’

‘I’m not fussing, just doing my job.’ She spoke sharply and he was quick to hear it.

‘Sorry, Beatrice—I’m tired, I suppose. Let’s meet around eight o’clock and have a cup of coffee—tell you what, I’ll be in the car and if you aren’t there by half-past I’ll know you couldn’t make it.’

She couldn’t in all fairness object to that; she agreed and hung up with the nagging thought that perhaps she had been unreasonable. He was a busy man and good at his job and she was aware that sooner or later he would ask her to marry him, and always at the back of her head was the unpleasant thought that he didn’t love her—not with the kind of love she wanted, anyway. She was sure that if she had been a hospital clerk with a father who had no influential friends he would never have entertained the idea of marrying her. On the other hand, he was ambitious and hard-working and had a charming manner when he needed it; he would make a success of his career and she would have a pleasant enough life. She wandered around the room, picking things up and putting them down again, feeling unsettled.

There was plenty to keep her occupied the next day. Very neat in her dark grey dress with its white collar and cuffs, she toured the whole place, making sure that the domestic staff were doing what they were supposed to do, calculating with the cook just how many morning coffees and afternoon teas she would have to get ready. She hadn’t had the list of names yet, which was vexing, although she did know the number of men who would be attending; at least she could make sure that the lecture-room near her small office could be got ready.

The various laboratories were all hard at work again after Christmas and she was kept busy: an urgent call for a new light bulb, a worn washer on one of the sink taps, demands for hot milk from Professor Moore, the dermatologist, who had a frightful cold, more demands for Panadol from his secretary, who was convinced that she had caught it.

Really, thought Beatrice, I’m actually the caretaker with a bit of book-keeping thrown in. Administrator was far too grand a word for it.

Several of the labs were working late; she sent up coffee and sandwiches to the technicians and took herself off to her flat. It was already after seven o’clock and she would have liked to have a shower, get into her dressing-gown and eat her supper by the small gas fire, with a good book. Instead she showered and changed into a green wool dress and put on a thick wool coat, rammed a woolly cap on to her head, found gloves and handbag and went out of the building, along the passage and through the hospital until she reached the entrance. Tom was there; she could see him sitting in his car, reading the paper. He saw her too as she crossed the forecourt, folded the paper and opened the door for her.

‘I was going to give you another five minutes, but I guessed you would come.’ He sounded smug.

His tone implied that she would always come running … never mind if she were tired or cross or just not feeling like going out. She busied herself with her safety-belt and stayed silent. He made it worse by remarking that she would feel better after a drink and launching into a very complicated account of his own busy day.

Beatrice, feeling ruffled because he hadn’t bothered to ask her if she had had a good Christmas, wished she hadn’t come. And why had she come? she asked herself. Force of habit? She had allowed herself to drift into something more than casual friendship with Tom and it struck her now that it was time it ended. She was a kind-hearted girl and although he was exasperating her now she was honest enough to admit that she had enjoyed several pleasant evenings with him when they had first become friendly; it was only later that she’d realised that he was using her as a means to an end. Perhaps she could talk to him presently.

‘We’ll go to the Tower Thistle,’ he told her, ‘have something in the bar. I mustn’t be away for more than an hour or so, and I’ll probably get called up during the night. I could do with some sleep too. We had a splendid party on Christmas night, didn’t get to bed until two o’clock and got called out just after five. Ah, well, it isn’t for ever—once I get a decent private practice—a partnership, perhaps …’ He went on at some length, sure of himself and her attention.

She was only half listening; the first of the specialists would be arriving in time for coffee in the morning and she was going over her careful catering once more, saying, ‘Oh yes?’ and, ‘Really?’ and, ‘Of course,’ at intervals. Once at the hotel, a vast place which she didn’t much like, she had to give Tom her undivided attention, sitting opposite him at a table in the bar, eating sandwiches and drinking a glass of white wine. The sandwiches were small and elegant, garnished with cress, and Beatrice, who was hungry, could have eaten the lot.

‘You’ll have had a good square meal,’ said Tom comfortably, ‘but do devour one—there’s just enough horseradish with the beef.’

She nibbled one, thinking of fried eggs on baked beans and a huge pot of tea or coffee. It was a funny thing, but Tom wasn’t the kind of man you could ask to take you to the nearest McDonald’s. If he wasn’t hungry, then you weren’t either, or, for that matter, if he assumed that you weren’t hungry and he was he wouldn’t ask you if you were …

It was very noisy in the bar and he had to raise his voice when he spoke. He put his elbows on the table and leaned towards her. ‘Isn’t it time that we made a few plans?’

‘Plans? What plans?’

He smiled at her indulgently. ‘Our future—I’ve another six months to do at St Justin’s then I’ll be ready to get a practice—buy a partnership. I’ll need some financial backing but your father could put me in touch with all the right people—he may be a country GP but he knows everyone worth knowing, doesn’t he? Besides, your mother …’ He paused delicately and his smile widened and he added coaxingly, ‘Once all that is settled we might get married.’

Beatrice sought for words; the only ones she could think of were very rude, so she kept silent. He must have been very sure of her—his proposal, if you could call it that, had been an afterthought. She twiddled the glass in her hand and wondered what would happen if she threw it at him. She said very quietly, ‘But I don’t want to marry you, Tom.’

He laughed, ‘Don’t be a silly girl, of course you do. Don’t pretend that I’ve taken you by surprise. We’ve been going out together now for weeks and I’ve made no secret of the fact that I want to settle down once I’m away from St Justin’s.’

‘I don’t remember you asking me if I had any plans for the future,’ observed Beatrice. She was bubbling over with rage but she looked quite serene. ‘But you—your plan was to get my father to put in a good word for you—I don’t know where Mother comes in … Oh, of course—being the granddaughter of an earl.’

‘A little name-dropping never does any harm,’ answered Tom complacently. ‘Can’t you just see it in the Telegraph? “Beatrice, daughter of Dr and the Hon. Mrs Crawley”.’ He sat back in his chair, smiling at her.

‘Tom, I have just told you—I don’t want to marry you. I’m sorry if you got the impression that I did. We’ve been good friends and enjoyed each other’s company but that’s all, isn’t it?’

‘I’m very fond of you, old girl.’ He didn’t notice her wince. ‘You’ll be a splendid wife, all the right connections and so on. I’ll make a name for myself in no time.’

The colossal conceit of him, reflected Beatrice; it was like trying to dent a steel plate with a teaspoon. He hadn’t once said that he loved her …

Characteristically, he didn’t ask if she wanted to go but finished his drink with an air of satisfaction at a job well done and asked, ‘Ready? I’ve got a couple of cases that I must look at.’

She got into the car beside him and he drove back to the hospital in silence. At the entrance he said, ‘We must get together again as soon as possible—you’ll have to give up your job here, of course.’

‘Tom,’ she tried to sound reasonable, ‘you don’t understand. I don’t want to marry you and I have no intention of giving up my job here. I think it might be better if we don’t see each other again. Surely we can part friends?’ She added coldly, ‘There must be plenty of suitable girls from whom you can choose a wife.’

‘Oh, you are being a silly girl. You’ll change your mind, I’ll see to that. I’ll give you a ring when I’m free.’

He sat in the car with the engine still running, waiting for her to get out, and the moment that she did he shot away with a casual wave. Not the behaviour of a man who had only half an hour ago proposed to her. Bottled-up rage and hurt feelings choked her as she crossed the courtyard. It was cold and very dark once she was away from the brightly lit entrance. The bulk of the new block behind the hospital loomed ahead of her; there were still a good many lights burning—several of the path. labs were still working. She wished with all her heart that she were at home, able to go to her room and cry her eyes out without anyone wanting to know why unless she wished to tell them. Held-back tears filled her eyes and dribbled down her cheeks; there was no one to tell here …!

There was, however. Gijs van der Eekerk reached the door at the same time as she did; his large gloved hand covered hers as she put it on the door-handle.

He took no notice of her stifled scream. ‘They told me that you would be back—that you had gone out for an hour with Dr Ford. I thought we might bury the hatchet over supper.’

He took the hand off the door and turned her round so that the dim light above the door shone on her face.

His ‘tut-tut’ was uttered with all the mild good-natured concern of an uncle or elder brother. ‘Tears? May I ask why?’

‘Don’t you tut-tut at me,’ said Beatrice crossly, ‘and if I want to cry I shall and I shan’t tell you why.’

He offered a large handkerchief. ‘No, no, of course you shan’t and a good weep is very soothing to the nerves, only wouldn’t it be better if you wept in a warmer spot?’

She blew her nose. ‘Yes, of course if would. If you would let me go in I can get some peace and quiet in my flat.’

‘Splendid.’ He opened the door and, when she had gone through, followed her.

‘I’m quite all right, thank you,’ said Beatrice, belatedly remembering her manners. Then she added, ‘How did you get here?’

‘I’m to read a paper here in the morning.’

‘You’re a doctor—a surgeon …?’

‘A haematologist. Let us go to your flat. You can tidy yourself before we go somewhere and have supper.’

‘I don’t want … that is, thank you very much, but I don’t want any supper and there is no need for you to come with me.’

‘Ah—you had a meal with that young man who drove off in such a hurry?’

‘You were spying?’

‘No—no—I was just getting out of my car.’ He sounded so reasonable that she felt guilty of her suspicions and muttered,


‘So now let us do as I suggested, there’s a good girl,’ His avuncular manner was reassuring; she led the way to the top floor and opened the door of her flat.

He took her coat in the tiny hallway. ‘Run along and do your face,’ he advised her, and went round the room, turning on the lamps and closing the curtains and, despite the faint warmth from the central heating, he turned on the gas fire too. The sleeping area of the room was curtained off and she set to, repairing the damage done to her face and re-doing her hair, listening to him strolling around the room, whistling softly. She reflected that he was the first man to be there; it had never entered her head to invite Tom or any of the young doctors who from time to time had asked her out, and she wondered now what on earth had possessed her to do so now. Not that she had invited him; he had come with her as though it were a perfectly natural thing to do. She frowned as she stuck pins into her coil of hair; he was altogether too much and she would tell him so—show him the door, politely, of course.

He was sitting, his coat off, in one of the small easy-chairs by the fire, but he got up as she crossed the room, watching her. ‘That’s better. Supposing that you tell me what upset you then if you want to cry again you can do so in warmth and comfort before we go to supper.’

‘I have no intention of crying again, Doctor, nor do I want supper.’

Her insides rumbled as she said it, giving the lie to her words. She might have saved her breath.

He pulled forward a chair invitingly. ‘Did he jilt you or did you jilt him?’

She found herself sitting opposite him. ‘Well, neither really,’ she began.

‘A quarrel? It will help to talk about it and since I am a complete stranger to you too you can say what you like, I’ll listen and forget about it.’

She was taking leave of her senses of course, confiding in this man.

‘Well,’ she began, ‘it is all a bit of a muddle.’


Получить полную версию книги можно по ссылке - Здесь

Следующая страница

Ваши комментарии
к роману Wedding Bells for Beatrice - Бетти Нилс

Комментарии к роману "Wedding Bells for Beatrice - Бетти Нилс" отсутствуют

Ваше имя


Введите сумму чисел с картинки