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For Ever and Ever

For Ever and Ever

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Published by romantic lady

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Published by: romantic lady on Jun 15, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 Mary Burchell When Leonie Creighton was chosen as Claire Elstone’s companion on a voyage toAustralia, she knew that the whole purpose of the journey was to separate Claire from a youngman of whomherfather disapproved. So it was a considerable shock to her to find, the firstnight out, that this very young man was aboard too in the capacity of Assistant Surgeon—andthat he didn’t seem to be quite the villain that Sir James had pictured.Leonie was extremely worried as to what to do; and she had troubles of her own as well,connected with the Senior Surgeon, who had, it seemed, thought her a silly little flirt in herhospital days and did not seem prepared to revise his opinion now.But when an emergency arose on board, it was to Leonie that he turned for extra help inthe ship’s hospital, and so began for her a happiness that was not to end with the voyage but tolast“for ever and ever”. 
“Tooooot-toot!Toot-toot! Tooooot-toot! Toot-toot!” From far overhead sounded the call of theship’s siren. And, as the long-short, short-short cry dominated every other sound on board, afaint shiver seemed to pass through the ship. Hardly a movement—only the suggestion of amovement. For a second all the gay, eager, excited chatter was stilled, and then it broke outwith even more energy in cries of—“We’re off!” “She’s moving!” “Goodbye—goodbye!” Leonie, whose own more personalgoodbyes had been said in her mother’s house that morning, stood back a pace or two from theship’s rail and waved decorously and gratefully to her employer on the wharf below. But, evenas she did so, she was aware that he probably did not see her at all. For him, as he waved hisvery expensive, fine linen handkerchief, there was only one person on the ship. His daughterClaire, who stood beside Leonie.“Goodbye!” Claire called, in her sweet, clear voice, and her dark eyes widened with suddenemotion, while the peach-like curve of her cheek flushed with feeling.“She
a pretty creature!” Leonie thought, with a sideways glance at what she was alreadybeginning to regard as her charge. “No wonder he thinks the earth revolves round her.”“Look! You can see the water between us now!” Claire Elstone turned to Leonie for amoment, her lovely face alight and quivering with an almost childlike joy which Leonie had notexpected. “We’re really off. We’re safely started!”“Safely” was not a word Leonie herself would have applied to the departure of so famous aliner as the
which, after all, must have accomplished this process rather often, butif Claire felt they had achieved something, that was all right with Leonie. So she just smiledreassuringly and said, “Yes—we’re off. First stop Gibraltar,” and waved once more to heremployer, hoping that poor Sir James was not feeling utterly bereft as he saw his one adoredchick sail away on the voyage which he had planned with such care.That she herself should have been part of the plan was still something Leonie could hardlycredit. And, as she stood there now, watching others make their more poignant and heartfeltgoodbyes, her thoughts travelled back to that incredible bleak January morning when Sir JamesElstone, head of Elstone Electrical Enterprises Ltd., had called her into his palatial private officeand bade her be seated in one of the handsome mahogany chairs usually reserved for muchmore distinguished visitors.Leonie was not even one of Sir James’s two private secretaries. She was merely thesecretary of the principal private secretary. She had sometimes, it was true, done personalwork for the head of the firm, and on two occasions at least she had received an Olympian nodof approval. But never had she expected him to face her across what looked like half an acre of gleaming mahogany and address her as though she were a board meeting. Rather an importantboard meeting at that.“Now, Miss Creighton”—Sir James consulted some notes on the desk in front of him—”youhave been with us two years, and daring that time you have given every satisfaction. This has

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