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Your Stories Await Telling

To Baron Dundarg | Saturday the 17th, delivered mid-afternoon

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A message written on white rag paper, with blue-black oak gall ink, sealed with the Melville coat of arms on viridian wax, and delivered by hand to Douglas' room at the Hen's Toes.



Long time no see, my friend. By now your sister must have filled you in, but in case she hasn't, Ophelia died. It almost destroyed me. I am not on the mend yet, but at least I am now trying to get there.
I would like to meet with you when and if it is convenient. Please send me a note to my room in the Castle, second floor of the main tower.

Your friend,



Edited by Duncan Melville
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As Douglas read the note, and his heart sank. Ophelia was dead. He hadn't had time to see his sisters since having dinner with them on the 15th, though he planned to take the girls for an outing after church, so this was the first he'd heard of it. Duncan had clearly gone to Cat first. That was good, she'd mother the bejeezus out of him and feed him up, which would care for the body and perhaps start to heal the soul. 

Ophelia Melville. Ophelia Dolittle. The quiet, thoughtful one of the three sisters, not that he knew any of them well, but the marriage had brought great wealth to Melville and, from what Douglas had seen, there had been genuine affection there. And now she was gone. He muttered something unprintable in Gaelic, his joy at hearing from Duncan after so long tempered by empathy for the man's loss. He didn't know what it was like, of course; the only women whom Douglas had lost, he'd lost to other men, but Duncan's own admission that he was hurting was enough. 

It nearly destroyed me. He must have loved her, like Douglas had loved Heather; he hadn't even realised. Duncan had once suggested that Douglas seek to marry Ellen Doolittle, and they could be brothers in law as well as in arms. He'd approached Sir Cedric, who had offered him Natalie; the youngest, said to be beautiful but without much smarts, Douglas had considered the offer but turned it down at the time. He didn't care much about looks, but smarts he valued. Duncan had definitely got the pick of the three, and now she was gone, leaving a hollow feeling in Douglas's chest that he could only imagine was magnified a thousand fold for Duncan. He had a feeling they'd had a daughter; he hoped that was correct. It was something. Hopefully her presence would bring her father some comfort.



I cannot tell you how glad I am to hear from you, and how sorrowed by your news. Ophelia was a good woman, and I know she was good to you. I am certain Saint Peter welcomed her with great fanfare. 

Come have dinner with me tomorrow at 7 of the clock, at the Hen's Toes, if you will. They set a good table and the common room is quiet enough that we can talk. I have missed your company and would be delighted to have it again. 

Your brother in arms, and in spirit,



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